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O'er the Land of the Free

On July 4, 1911, less than two months after the Colorado National Monument received its official designation as the newest feather in the cap of the National Park Service, park superintendent John Otto climbed 450 feet to the top of the canyon's most iconic sandstone monolith and – planting an American flag there to mark the occasion – dubbed it Independence Monument.

"John Otto was the first caretaker of Colorado National Monument, and he was very patriotic," says Joan Anzelmo, the park's current superintendent. "We're in the midst of our centennial year, and it's an honor to continue the annual tradition he began 100 years ago to the day."

The Mesa County Technical Search and Rescue Team will lead the climb beginning at 6 a.m. and raise Old Glory at 11 a.m.; local Rotary clubs are hosting an ice cream social immediately afterward in the Saddlehorn Picnic Area. Park admission is $10 per vehicle, $5 for cyclists or hikers.

"Visitors will be able to view the flag-raising ceremony from the back deck of the visitors' center, multiple vantage points along Rim Rock Drive or the Independence Monument Overlook," Anzelmo says. "But this year, I imagine the most popular spot will be the overlook on Otto's Trail."

For more information, visit or call 970-858-3617.
Mon., July 4, 2011


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