What’s Up at Colorado National Monument

 CNMA is looking to raise funds to upgrade Saddlehorn Amphitheater and its surrounding trails at Colorado National Monument / Photo by Cat Mayer

CNMA is looking to raise funds to upgrade Saddlehorn Amphitheater and its surrounding trails at Colorado National Monument / Photo by Cat Mayer

Rebuilding the Saddlehorn Amphitheater

When built in the 1960s, the Monument’s Saddlehorn Amphitheater featured a stage, wooden bench seating, and asphalt trails from the campground. Little has changed in the intervening decades, leaving the facility woefully out-of-date. But not for long.

The Colorado National Monument Association (CNMA) is currently raising funds to upgrade the amphitheater and trails. The goal is to revitalize an outstanding community venue for concerts, lectures, events, and park interpretive programs.

According to Michael Paxson, executive director of the CNMA, the most expensive component involves improving and rebuilding the trails to ADA specifications. The benches will also be rebuilt, and an up-to-date AV system will be installed.

All told, $525,000 is being raised through a combination of grants, individual donations, and some very special wine. Yes, wine. (See below.)

 The 2018-19 Colorado National Monument bike jersey.

The 2018-19 Colorado National Monument bike jersey.

Limited Edition Cycling Jersey

The Colorado National Monument is a cycling destination with an international reputation. But aside from photos, tired legs, and memories, until 2017 there was nothing available for visitors to commemorate their climb.

“Cyclists would come into the Rim Rock Shop looking for a jersey and asking why we didn’t have one,” recalls Paxson.

These requests inspired Paxson to partner with Pearl Izumi to create custom bike jerseys using local photography. The first jersey showcased a National Park Service image of Independence Monument. The 2018 version features a Rick Ahern photo of the Monument by moonlight, and a Julie Bellitt photo of a collared lizard against a monumental background will debut in 2019.

Bicycle lights, cycling socks, and commemorative patches proclaiming “I Rode the Monument” are also available at the Rim Rock Shop. During December, CNMA members receive an extra 20 percent off any shop purchase.

 Benefit wine for Colorado National Monument Association by Colterris Winery / Photo by Cat Mayer

Benefit wine for Colorado National Monument Association by Colterris Winery / Photo by Cat Mayer

Raising Money, Bottle by Bottle 

In a unique partnership, Colterris Vineyards and CNMA released 150 cases of Monumental 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon in late July. For every bottle sold, $5 goes directly to the Saddlehorn Amphitheater project.

Monumental 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is an estate wine, meaning that all of the grapes were grown in the Grand Valley by the vineyard. It’s a “big, rich, opulent” wine that will improve over time, reaching its peak in 8-10 years, according to local wine grower Scott High, who with his wife, Theresa, owns Colterris Vineyards.

John Lintott, the art coordinator for CNMA, created an original oil painting of Independence Monument for the label, which is embedded into the glass. Each bottle is hand-numbered.

More than half of the wine was sold before release, with the remainder available locally at both Colterris Vineyards tasting rooms in Palisade, as well as Andy’s Liquor Mart, Fisher’s Liquor Barn, and Redlands Liquors in Grand Junction.

A second run of 300 cases is planned for 2019. These bottles will also be numbered and feature original artwork.