Otto’s Bathtub off Liberty Cap Trail in the perfect location
Otto's Bathtub off Liberty Cap Trail in the perfect location
I think I know why Beatrice Farnham boogied on old John Otto shortly after they married at the base of Independence Monument in June of 1911.
She didn’t like the bathroom setup — especially that tub.
Happens to the best of couples.
I’m quite sure that as a young Boston artist, Beatrice must have gazed in awe at the remarkable colors — vivid reds, purples, oranges and rusted browns — created by iron and other minerals in the rock of these canyons made famous by her hubby.
Apparently, however, she didn’t like the same colors in her tub. In fact, she found the reality of John’s life a bit rustic — kind of like the rock. A few weeks after her own wedding, she split and never came back.
“I tried hard to live his way, but I could not do it, I could not live with a man to whom even a cabin was an encumbrance,” she reportedly said later.
No cabin, no indoor plumbing, and just look at that ring around the tub!
Who knows how often Otto bathed, yet his bathtub is marked on the National Park Service Map. The trail to Otto’s Bathtub is supposedly marked with a cairn just beyond two switchbacks about 3.3 miles from the Liberty Cap Trail head on Rimrock Road in Colorado National Monument.
However, Otto must have kicked the cairn out. Or maybe he WAS taking a bath, and was just a little shy. Either way, the marker may or may not be there if you’re looking for the tub.
But the tub is still there, and has been for many moons.
Liberty Cap Trail head — and Otto’s Bathtub — can be reached by driving to the top of Colorado National Monument along Rimrock Drive, or by finding your way to the Wildwood Trail head off South Broadway on the Redlands.
If you’re really looking for the tub, however, start from the top. To reach that trail head, take Monument Road 4.4 miles to the east entrance of the national monument where Monument Road turns into Rimrock Drive. Stay on that for another 11.8 miles.
You’ll come to the Black Ridge Hunter Access Road to the left (west). A couple hundred yards farther and to the right, you’ll see the Liberty Cap Trail parking area. If you’re traveling from the Fruita side or west entrance to the monument, drive about seven miles past the visitor center.
The upper reach of this trail winds across gently sloping Monument Mesa through pinyon-juniper forest and sagebrush flats for 5.5 miles, where it finds the Liberty Cap itself. It then descends 1.5 miles to the Wildwood Trail head in the valley below.
Throughout the upper reach, this trail is gentle and meandering. The switchbacks at about 2.5 miles out can get your heart rate up slightly, but they are not strenuous.
The actual location of Otto’s tub is secluded, tucked away in a beautiful Entrada Sandstone formation on the side of Monument Canyon.
Old Otto really had to work to find that perfect spot — he even chiseled steps in the rock for access to the “tub.” In reality, he probably designed this as a simple water collection station.
If you miss the small “social trail” with a carin on your left-hand side below the switchbacks approximately 3.3 miles from the trail head, you’ll eventually end up at the cap. If you happen to find that left turn, you’ll be a little less than a mile from the Tub. Here, the trail will meander through some pinon/juniper growth and eventually to the rim of Monument Canyon. From that point, most of the trail is on the slick rock along the edge to the tub.
I found two other spots I thought were the Tub in this area, but they had no chiseled steps. That just made the searching a little more fun.
While Beatrice wasn’t entirely happy, Otto must have loved it out here with nature and all. In his tub. Or not, as the case may be.
Liberty Cap, the white-capped rock this trail is named for, and which you can see from town if you’re looking a little northwest of the east entrance of the monument, is a 160-million-year-old remnant sand dune.
From Liberty Cap and Independence Monument to the smallest detail carved in stone, the grand sculptor in Colorado National Monument was erosion, with time a loyal ally. And, although Beatrice didn’t want to live and bathe in it 100 years ago, we can certainly soak it all in today.