Monument ponders more days free of vehicles

Colorado National Monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo said the park will consider hosting more vehicle-free days along Rim Rock Drive after receiving rave reviews about the closure of the roadway Saturday.

“Certainly I want to hear from folks, and I do get a lot of letters asking us to do this,” said Anzelmo, fresh off a cycling ride along a 14-mile stretch of Rim Rock Drive.

“At this point, the plan is to keep this an annual event,” she said.

From the visitor center to the intersection with Glade Park Road, the Monument on Saturday was opened exclusively for cyclists, joggers and the occasional dog as the Colorado National

Monument Association hosted the first of several planned events running up to the park’s 100th anniversary in 2011.

Entrance fees were waived in recognition of National Public Lands Day.

Dogs, which usually are allowed only on a leash in the visitor center’s parking lot, were welcome on Rim Rock Drive and along trails.

But Saturday was special for what wasn’t at the Monument: motorized vehicles.

“A couple people saw three bighorn sheep munching on the side of the road,” said Don Regan, an interpretive ranger at the Monument. “You would never see something like that with all the traffic.”

Michelle Wheatley, visitor services chief at the Monument, said the park averages roughly 1,000 vehicles on Rim Rock Drive on a weekend day. Some 20 people were waiting at 7 a.m. for the road to close Saturday as early morning winds quickly gave way to a still, sun-drenched fall sky.

The sound of car engines was replaced with next to nothing on Saturday morning; singing birds and stirring critters occasionally pierced the silence.


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