Take a Hike: Otto's Bathtub

 Photo by TJ Smith

Photo by TJ Smith

With a name like Otto’s Bathtub, this hike draws curious hikers, as well as those interested in its history, arches, and scenic canyon views.

Use the easy-to-access Liberty Cap trailhead and parking lot right off Rimrock Drive to begin this family-friendly trek. The moderate, 8.5-mile round-trip hike begins through high desertscape on an old park service road that closed in the 1970s. (Note: This is also a great cross-country ski route in the winter, snow permitting.)

Your first gander of Monument Canyon appears at two miles. Keep alert so you don’t miss the cairn at 3.25 miles that marks the left fork to Otto’s Bathtub, taking you off the Liberty Cap Trail.

You’re now on a less defined trail that snakes through juniper and pinyon and over slickrock, just under a mile from Otto’s Bathtub. As long as you follow the rim, you will eventually reach your goal while enjoying remarkable canyon views along the way.

Just prior to Otto’s Bathtub is a narrow ridge some consider an obstacle, but to others it’s a non-technical crossing. You can bypass the ridge by taking a lower route on the right to a sandstone bowl. Here you’ll view several window arches hidden beneath the trail.

The first basin-like formation you come to after the ridge may deceive you into thinking you’ve reached the Bathtub, but don’t stop there. Traverse another couple hundred yards along the slickrock rim to look down on the actual, natural outdoor bathtub. Notice John Otto’s handiwork of sandstone steps and hand-hole pegs, which can be found throughout Colorado National Monument.

Horses are allowed on this trail, but dogs are not. Allow four to five hours to hike round-trip, or plan some extra time to picnic, play, and explore. This is also the perfect location for a little quiet, secluded “zen time.”

Melanie WisemanHiking