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Freedom Flies High

Colorado National Monument

National Park News

On Monday morning, 15 ambitious rock climbers, led by 13 Mesa County’s Technical Search & Rescue Team members, scaled Independence Monument, a 450-foot high monolith, with Old Glory in tow.

Across Monument Canyon, hundreds of visitors, armed with binoculars, lined Rim Rock Drive to watch the climbers reach the summit of Independence and hoist the Stars and Stripes. As the flag was raised, the patriotic sounds of the Star-Spangled Banner, played by a local brass quintet, could be heard echoing across the canyons, a poignant reminder of the freedom fought for by our ancestors and celebrated by us today. 

In addition to celebrating our nation’s history, Independence Day revelers paid homage to Colorado National Monument’s 100th anniversary. Monday culminated a full century of flag-raising rock climbers ascending Independence Monument.

Following the flag raising ceremony, visitors enjoyed an old-time ice cream social and the Influx Jazz Band Concert at Saddlehorn Picnic Area. 

 The tradition originated with the park’s first caretaker, John Otto, a staunch patriot, who named many of the rock formations including Independence Monument, after patriotic topics. He launched this flag raising ceremony on July 4, 1911, the same year President Taft signed a proclamation creating Colorado National Monument. One hundred years later Otto's unique tradition is still honored by the park and local communities.


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