Whatever the season, Grand Junction offers a host of outdoor adventures. From the majesty of Colorado National Monument to 18 wineries, Grand Junction and the surrounding Grand Valley in Western Colorado offer an abundance of natural beauty and activity.
Here's just a sampling:
Colorado's Canyonlands - The Colorado National Monument
Tour the Colorado National Monument, a 20,000-acre landscape of towering rock spires and majestic canyons offering spectacular views of the Grand Valley. Visitors can get a glimpse of its splendor by taking the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive that climbs 2,000 feet above the Grand Valley of the Colorado River. Along the route, several roadside overlooks provide opportunities to stop and savor the sights.
A spectacular view of Colorado's Grand Valley may be enjoyed from the top of Serpent's Trail, a vigorous hike with more than 50 switchbacks. The more gently sloping Otto's Trail leads to an overlook for a panoramic view of a population of monoliths. For more adventurous hikers, the Monument offers backcountry routes from 4 to 8.5 miles in length.
Adjacent to the Colorado National Monument are Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness and McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. These remote settings offer natural arches and unusual Colorado landscapes for hikers, mountain bikers and backcountry explorers.
Endless Forests and More than 300 Lakes
Rising 6,000 feet above the Grand Valley, Colorado's Grand Mesa is an outdoor recreation paradise that offers a network of more than 700 miles of hiking, biking, skiing, and snowmobiling trails. Also, more than 300 lakes swarming with trout, and a lush forest habitat for porcupines, coyotes, red fox, elk, and deer display the beauty. The 63-mile Grand Mesa National Scenic & Historic Byway is a national treasure that can be reached just to the east of Grand Junction, Colorado.
A Taste of the Valley
The fertile Grand Valley near Grand Junction is home to 18 wineries. The Valley is recognized as the focal point of Colorado's rapidly growing wine industry. Accessible by bicycle, automobile or motorcoach, wineries offer year round complimentary tastings and tours as well as individual events. Leading varieties include Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Gris. Also home to the famous Palisade Peaches, fruit stands are found among the vineyards and will tempt you by the bushel. Ask for recipes.
Self-guided and escorted tours are available. For information about escored tours contact American Spirit Shuttle at (970) 523-7662; Absolute Prestige Limousines at (970) 858-8500; A Touch With Class Limousines at (970) 245-5466; or Absolute Perfections at (970) 201-6785.
Ride the Rivers
The Grand Valley offers access to seven raftable rivers, from mild float trips to exciting Colorado whitewater. If you're experienced, bring your own gear or equipment rental companies are happy to provide boats and vests. Outfitters offer both single and multi-day trips with opportunities to hike the canyons, visit Indian ruins and spot bald eagles, deer and other wildlife.
For more information about raft trips contact Rimrock Adventures, at (970) 858-9555 or toll-free at (888) 712-9555; or Adventure Bound River Expeditions at (970) 245-5428 or toll-free at (800) 423-4668.
Dinosaur Expeditions and Tours
The Grand Valley is located within the famed "Dinosaur Diamond" of Western Colorado and Eastern Utah, which is internationally known for its wealth of dinosaur excavation sites, exhibits, fossil trails and hands-on paleontological activities.
The Museum of Western Colorado operates Dinosaur Journey offering the opportunity to tour the paleontological museum and view robotic dinosaur replicas and fossils. The museum features dinosaur skeletons, activities for kids, and a working paleontology laboratory.
The Museum of Western Colorado sponsors seasonal one-day and multi-day dinosaur expeditions in some of the world's richest dinosaur quarries including the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in the Rabbit Valley Natural Resource Area.
Amateur dinosaur hunters can dig for leaf and insect fossils on all-day and half-day guided tours. For more information about dinosaur digs, contact the Museum of Western Colorado at (970) 242-0971 or toll free at 888-488-3466.
Scale the Red Rock Canyons
Grand Junction is nestled between the alpine peaks of the Rocky Mountains and the countless monoliths and canyons of the Colorado Plateau. Both experienced and first-time rock climbers will appreciate the variety of landscapes to conquer.
Outfitters offer both climbing classes and guided climbing adventures. Learn the basics of rock climbing and rappelling while developing safety practices and learning equipment care.
Experienced climbers will enjoy guided day climbs or multi-day guided trips. For more information contact Colorado Alpine & Desert Adventures at (970) 245-8513.
World Class Mountain Biking
Offering more than 1,000 miles of bike trails that range from paved roads to challenging single track, Grand Junction and the surrounding Grand Valley are becoming an ideal mountain biking destination. The region's terrain ranges from desert landscapes to mountain aspen groves, with enough variety to suit all levels of riding ability.
Popular backcountry rides include the renowned Kokopelli's and Tabeguache Trail -- both 142 miles in length. The Kokopelli's Trail begins at Loma (15 miles west of Grand Junction) and ends at Moab, Utah. The Tabeguache Trail begins at Grand Junction and travels south to the town of Montrose.
Wild Horses of the West
Between 80 and 120 wild horses roam the hills of the Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Area, which encompass just over 30,000 acres in the Colorado canyons and plateaus of the Bookcliffs north of Grand Junction. Catch a glimpse of these wild horses on a half-day or evening horseback riding tour.
For more information about horseback riding and wild horse tours, contact Rimrock Adventures at (970) 858-9555 or (888) 712-9555.
At an altitude of 4,597 feet, Grand Junction, Colorado, is warm in the summer and moderate in spring, fall and winter with more than 275 days of sunshine each year. What a great place to play!
For more information, call the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau at (970) 244-1480.