How to Hike (and Not Get Lost!) on the Devils Kitchen Trail in Colorado National Monument
The 1.9-mile hike to the Devils Kitchen is our favorite hike in Colorado National Monument! On this trail, you’ll get to see the largest canyon in Colorado National Monument, unique hoo-doo rock formations, and even do a bit of rock scrambling if you want. In the summer, you can also see desert wildflowers along the dirt trail. If you are looking for an adventure that won’t take all day, the Devils Kitchen trail is for you!
You’ll be immersed in the walls of No Thoroughfare Canyon as you traverse slick rock and a dry river bed toward the otherworldly rock spires known as the Devils Kitchen.
Our guide to the Devils Kitchen Trail has details on how to get to the trailhead and what to expect on the trail, including a crucial tip that will keep you from making the same mistake we did!
Colorado National Monument Info
Colorado National Monument charges an entrance fee of $25 per vehicle for 7 days. You can also use a national parks pass. We get an America the Beautiful Pass every year since it pays for itself after 3 visits to a national park service site. There are over 2000 locations included in the pass throughout the United States. It’s definitely worth getting the pass if you plan to visit other national parks.
Devils Kitchen Geology
The Devils Kitchen sits amidst the red rock walls of the south side of No Thoroughfare Canyon in Colorado National Monument. Several totem-shaped spires and large boulders tower 50 feet over the rocky grotto, forming a cave-like area, the “Devils Kitchen” itself. No Thoroughfare Canyon is the largest canyon in the Monument, and it gets its name literally, as the canyon dead ends and there is no way through it.
Devils Kitchen Trailhead
The Devils Kitchen Trailhead is located nearly immediately (0.2 miles) after the east (Grand Junction) entrance to Colorado National Monument. You can definitely enter the Monument from Fruita on the western end, but it will take you much longer since Rim Rock Drive through the park is not the most direct route. That said, driving Rim Rock Drive should be on your Colorado National Monument itinerary, even if it’s not the same day you do the Devils Kitchen hike.
At the trailhead, you can park on the left, but if spots are full, you can also park at the Devils Kitchen Picnic Area. The Devils Kitchen Trailhead is shared with the No Thoroughfare Canyon Trail, the Old Gordon Trail, and the Serpents Trail.
Devils Kitchen Trail Description
At 1.9 miles long and between 100-403 feet (estimates for this vary depending on your exact route) of elevation gain, the Devils Kitchen hike is nevertheless a moderately difficult hike. This is because the trail gets a bit lost the closer you get to the “kitchen”, and depending on your route, you may have to scramble boulders and squeeze your way through rock openings.
From the trailhead, follow the path for about a tenth of a mile (0.13 miles) to the first junction. Take the branch on the right to continue towards the Devils Kitchen. The left leads to the Old Gordon Trail and Echo Canyon Trail. During this first part of the trail, you are likely to see some desert flora in the summertime, so don’t forget to look down!
From here, you’ll go another tenth of a mile (0.13 miles) to reach the next junction. Take the branch to the left for Devils Kitchen (the right continues on the No Thoroughfare Canyon trail) and continue across the wash.
In about 0.3 miles, the trail ascends somewhat steeply towards the Devils Kitchen. As you start to climb the beautifully carved rock steps, you’ll be looking directly toward the monoliths and spires that comprise the Devils Kitchen.
When you get to the top of the stairs looking at the Devils Kitchen, continue along the slickrock towards your left and around to the front of the grotto! It sounds simple but so many hikers, us included, miss this and end up taking a very convoluted way to end up in the same spot. This is the crucial tip we mention in the intro to this post! I’ll say it again: When you get to the top go left across the slick rock around to the front of the Devils Kitchen formations.
If you are feeling adventurous (and certainly you are!) climb inside the Devils Kitchen grotto for a rock window that overlooks No Thoroughfare Canyon. You can also explore the area around Devils Kitchen, just be sure to stay on the trails to avoid damaging the terrain and plant life. When you’re ready, continue back the way you come for 0.6 miles to return to the trailhead.
What to Wear on the Devils Kitchen Trail
The most important thing to have with you on the Devils Kitchen hike is water. They don’t call it the Devils Kitchen for no reason! In the summer, this place is scorching, with temps in the 90s Fahrenheit on average each day. If you are doing this hike in the summer, you should carry a gallon jug for each person each day. You should also bring sun protection like hats and sunscreen.
A pair of durable sneakers or hiking shoes and clothes that feel comfortable to you is all you need! Note that while summer days are hot, nights are cool, and winters are cold. There are cool temps every night even in the summertime. Your best bet is to pack a lot of layers, like a wool baselayer, a pullover, and a coat or jacket if hiking anytime other than summer. In summer, shorts and T-shirts are sufficient but we still recommend a jacket layer as well.
Where to Stay for Devils Kitchen Trail
There are a lot of options for where to stay near Devils Kitchen Trail and the Colorado National Monument. Saddlehorn Campground is your best option within the park, and the towns of Palisade, Grand Junction, and Fruita are all good options just outside the park.
Saddlehorn Campground within Colorado National Monument is definitely the most convenient location to stay when visiting CNM or hiking Devils Kitchen Trail. The campground is located near the Saddlehorn Visitors Center. You can check Saddlehorn Campground reservations and availability online.
Hotels in Fruita, Palisade, and Grand Junction
Fruita, Palisade, and Grand Junction are all excellent bases for a trip to Colorado National Monument. Fruita and Grand Junction hug either end of CNM, and Palisade is just outside Grand Junction and a great choice for those who want to see Colorado’s wine country as well.
Grand Junction Hotels
- Hotel Maverick
- Courtyard by Marriott Grand Junction
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott Grand Junction Downtown/Historic Main St.
- Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Grand Junction Downtown
- Days Inn by Wyndham Grand Junction
Palisade/Wine Country Hotels
The Devils Kitchen Trail is an exciting, short hike for those who want to immerse themselves in otherworldly rock formations on their visit to Colorado National Monument! While on Rim Rock Drive, don’t miss Otto’s Trail or the Coke Ovens Trail, two other short hikes in the Monument. Combined with a scenic drive on Rim Rock Drive, you could even do all three of these hikes for a perfect one-day itinerary in Colorado National Monument.
If you are visiting Colorado National Monument as part of a larger Colorado trip, be sure to check out our guides on Rocky Mountain National Park!