Colorado National Monument: Coke Ovens

Traverse a red-rock hillside on this easy 1-mile out-and-back that lands atop a cluster of sandstone pinnacles in the Colorado National Monument’s grandest canyon.
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Traverse a red-rock hillside on this easy 1-mile out-and-back that lands atop a cluster of sandstone pinnacles in the Colorado National Monument’s grandest canyon.

This quick, 1-mile out-and-back is a perfect way to stretch your legs while driving (or biking) the Colorado National Monument’s scenic Rim Rock Road. From the Coke Ovens Overlook, you’ll drop onto a sandstone trail that winds westward toward the back of the canyon and traverses below the park road and huge red-rock walls. Just an easy 15 minutes from the trailhead you’ll land at a fenced-in viewing platform above cream-colored pinnacles in the Wingate formation. The bulbous rocks below the platform resemble ovens traditionally used for baking coal into a cleaner-burning fuel called coke.

In addition to a close-up of the Coke Ovens, this platform provides a great view into Monument Canyon and a preview of the trail following its base. As you turn back toward the trailhead, watch for yellow-headed collared lizards and plateau whiptails sunning themselves on sun-heated rocks along the trail, and look west over the canyon for soaring golden eagles or red-tailed hawks.
There are no facilities at the trailhead, so bring water and be sure to stop at the visitor center restroom about 3.5 miles north on the road before your hike.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 1.6

Waypoints

COK001

Location: 39.077834, -108.727956

Begin by following the trail from the west side of the Coke Ovens Overlook. Stop to read the tips and rules at the map kiosk and note that dogs are not allowed on any monument trails. Descend a few steps and a long switchback below the overlook.

COK002

Location: 39.077109, -108.727816

At the T-junction with the Monument Trail, turn right toward the back of the canyon. Look up for a cave that runs alongside the CCC trail just below the road.

COK003

Location: 39.076743, -108.727516

Look left toward an eroding arch in the cliff below the roadside trailhead as you walk across a wide sandstone shelf.

COK004

Location: 39.07536, -108.726196

The trail skirts huge, smooth sandstone cliffs as it approaches the overlook. You'll see hand-carved evidence of other (vandal) tourists' visits.

COK005

Location: 39.07526, -108.723395

The viewing platform above the pinnacles marks the end of the trail. Spend a few minutes framing perfect pictures of the rocks and canyon below before turning back toward the trailhead.

Trailhead

Location: 39.077842, -108.727977

This map kiosk lists detailed information about backcountry and trail travel in the monument. This route begins just west of this sign.

Descending

Location: 39.077076, -108.72831

Monument Canyon

Location: 39.076776, -108.727612

Steps

Location: 39.076743, -108.727527

Though the trail is mostly wide and easy, there are a few steps.

Sandstone Trail

Location: 39.076093, -108.726969

Slickrock

Location: 39.075368, -108.726186

Coke Ovens

Location: 39.07526, -108.723428

Looking down onto the Coke Ovens from the observation platform at trail end.

Monument Canyon

Location: 39.07531, -108.723364

The viewing platform also offers a close-up view of Monument Canyon.