Plan ahead, because this centennial celebration isn’t to be missed
Turning 100 in Mesa County is a monumental achievement — literally.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Colorado National Monument, the 25th area to be selected for federal administration in U.S. parks history.
Myriad events have been scheduled in 2011 to mark the occasion. However, park officials set aside Saturday, May 21, as the day to celebrate the monument’s centennial.
The official date of the 100th anniversary is May 24, but officials thought a Saturday was more convenient for people.
“We are inviting the public to join us to commemorate,” said Joan Anzelmo, superintendent of the monument. The monument “is a living, breathing, evolving place that serves our whole community.”
The day’s anniversary events will begin with a ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday outside the visitor center with an opening blessing from Northern Ute Tribal Elder Clifford Duncan.
The Ute Indians are the indigenous people of the monument area, said Michelle Wheatley, who heads up the monument’s interpretation and visitor services.
After Duncan’s blessing there will be performances by the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra and Appleton Elementary School Choir and a keynote speech from U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.
There also will be a man in character as John Otto, who is credited with helping the unique area receive its status as a national monument in 1911.
The anniversary ceremony will culminate with birthday cake and other light refreshments.
Parking for the event will be limited to the Saddlehorn Picnic Area and Saddlehorn Campground loops. Staff will be on hand to help direct traffic. Guests will be shuttled to the visitor center.
Those planning to attend the anniversary ceremony should be at the West Entrance Station on the Fruita end of the monument from 9:30–10:15 a.m. to receive free admission.
Free shuttles will be provided from 9:30–10:15 a.m. from Fruita’s Dinosaur Journey, 550 Jurassic Court, for those who want to avoid driving into the monument.
After the ceremony, a number of other activities will commemorate the 100th anniversary, including the grand opening of the visitor center’s new exhibits.
Wheatley and other monument staff have spent years working on the new, more modern exhibits, which will replace the 47-year-old exhibits currently in the visitor center.
The new exhibits will highlight the monument’s geology, Colorado Plateau, Pinyon-Juniper Woodland, Ute Indians, John Otto and the Road Building Era that saw the completion of Rim Rock Drive.
From 2:30–3:30 p.m. in the visitor center’s auditorium, there will be a special showing of the Rocky Mountain PBS documentary “Colorado National Monument, Celebrating 100 Years of John Otto’s Dream.”
And at 4 p.m. on the visitor center’s back porch, ranger and geologist Don Regan will give a 30-minute presentation about the erosion and landscape of the monument.
Centennial events have been scheduled throughout 2011, including ranger walks, a car tour and more. For further centennial information, go to http://www.nps.gov/colm or call 858-3617, ext. 360.