GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -Located in Colorado’s Wine Country, just a few hours west of Denver, Grand Junction provides visitors a truly unique Colorado escape. With access to more than 20 wineries, 3,000 square miles of state and federally protected public lands, outstanding recreation activities including biking, hiking and fishing, some of the best golf in the state, unique shopping and dining experiences, and much more, Grand Junction offers a variety of memorable vacation opportunities. Here are 15 ways to explore Grand Junction in 2015:
Raise a glass at newly opened Red Fox Cellars. This family run winery in Palisade offers a comfortable, relaxing tasting room with a rustic and inviting feel where guests can sample a variety of their unique wines. Red Fox Cellars offers complimentary tastings as well as wine available by the glass or bottle. In addition to wine, Red Fox Cellars will soon be offering a constantly rotating selection of fruit wines/ciders from their draft system, all hand made from local fruits.
Take in a show at the recently renovated Avalon Theatre. The historic Avalon Theatre, located on Main Street in Grand Junction’s downtown, recently underwent a $9.65 million renovation, providing a state-of-the-art performance venue and movie screening theatre. This year, the theatre is welcoming exciting performances from nationally acclaimed groups including Lyle Lovett & His Acoustic Group, Comedian Rodney Carrington, and the Grand Junction Symphony presenting Mozart in March, with more acts being added weekly.
Celebrate 100 years of the National Parks Service at the Colorado National Monument. The National Park Service will celebrate its Centennial in 2016 with a variety of special events and programming beginning summer 2015 and leading up to the anniversary in August 2016. Explore the Colorado National Monument and soak in one of the grand landscapes of the American West. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama that is only a few minutes from Grand Junction. Visitors can experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, and view bighorn sheep and soaring eagles.
Bike the Riverfront Trail from Fruita to Grand Junction. The Riverfront Trail expansion project now allows visitors to walk, jog or bike from downtown Grand Junction to Fruita on the newly finished Monument Section of the trail. The Riverfront Trail snakes for miles along the mighty Colorado River, passing through cottonwood forests and open space. The trail has many access points, and visitors can spend an hour or a day exploring the beauty of the riverside environment from the communities of Palisade, Grand Junction and Fruita.
Enjoy locally sourced food prepared by executive chef Josh Niernberg. Dine at Jodi and Josh Niernberg's popular Bin 707 Foodbar in Downtown Grand Junction, at one of the themed West Slope Supper Club pop-up parties, or out of their new food truck at one of their many Feast in the Field events. Chef Niernberg serves seasonal American Cuisine from Grand Junction’s best brewers, winemakers and farmers!
Ride the train to Colorado Wine Country’s wine festival. A not-to-be-missed opportunity is to travel by train and enjoy the scenery while getting to Colorado’s Wine Country. Buy a ticket on Amtrak’s sought after California Zephyr route, departing anywhere between San Francisco and Chicago, riding the spectacular scenic rails through the Rocky Mountains to reach Grand Junction. Once there, relax at the 22 wineries or to experience the state’s largest wine festival the third weekend of September at the annual Colorado Mountain Winefest.
Fruita Fat Tire Festival. Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of a Colorado mountain bike tradition, the US Bank Fruita Fat Tire Festival. Guests can ride miles of pristine MTB Trails, meet MTB friends from around the world and support those who share their same passion and MTB lifestyle. There is a great line-up of live musical entertainment, an exciting expo and much more.
Shop Downtown Grand Junction. Main Street in Downtown Grand Junction has been a pedestrian-friendly shopping district since the early 1960’s when visionary city leaders lined the street with trees and created its meandering design. The heart of Grand Junction has been brilliantly revitalized and expanded in the past few years to include more public art, patio dining and wonderful landscaping. Guests won’t find big box chain stores here. What they will find is boutique shopping, unique toy stores, charming candy stores, bookshops, cute kids’ clothing, bike shops, outdoor gear and other unique retailers.
Follow Your Nose to Lavender Fest. There’s a lot more than grapes growing in Colorado’s Wine Country. Lavender farms are becoming increasingly popular in the area. Fields of the distinctively scented purple flower bloom around Grand Junction each summer before being harvested for use in culinary and medicinal applications, as well as aromatherapy. Each July, visitors can learn more about the unique plant that’s used in everything from perfume to homeopathy during the annual Lavender Festival in Palisade.
Grind the Recently Expanded Public Trail System at The Three Sisters Park. Mountain bikers will love the recently expanded trail system at The Three Sisters Park which includes an additional 130 acres of desert landscape, adjacent to the well-known and popular Tabeguache/Lunch Loop Trail system, located just minutes from downtown Grand Junction. It offers gentle terrain that is perfect for hiking and biking trails for all levels, including families and kids.
Hike the Grand Mesa. This 10,000 foot Grand Mesa overlooks the town of Grand Junction and provides a year-round haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can try boating or fishing on over 300 pristine lakes or hike 100s of trails that are easily accessed from the Grand Mesa National Scenic Byway. Seek the popular and challenging Crag Crest Trail.
Palisade Peach Festival. Each August, as Palisade’s peaches ripen and thousands of visitors flock to the small town just east of Grand Junction for the Palisade Peach Festival for a weekend of activities that celebrate the delicious, fuzzy fruit. The festival offers a variety of activities from cooking demos to peach-eating contests, parades, carnival rides and more.
Hit the Links at Grand Junction’s Top Courses. With five beautifully designed and maintained public courses, Grand Junction is one of Colorado’s top destinations for golf enthusiasts. Due to the area’s mild, high-desert climate, golfers can enjoy a round almost any day of the year. Golfers won’t want to miss the #1 public golf course in Colorado as ranked by golf digest, The Golf Club at Redlands Mesa.
Raft the Mighty Colorado. Visitors can conquer exciting whitewater rapids on the Green River, Gunnison River or Colorado River while starting their rafting adventure in Grand Junction. Or, they can float tranquilly downstream while enjoying the local scenery. Multi-day trips and single-day adventures are both available seasonally with professional guides.
Sample the Best in Colorado Produce and Artisan Products at the Farmer’s Market. Foodies can sample fresh produce and live entertainment at a variety of farmers' markets in Grand Junction throughout the summer and fall travel seasons. Area farmers markets are a bounty of homegrown fruits, veggies and flowers. These entertaining markets are a popular warm-weather destination for locals and visitors to mingle, peruse booths offering a variety of hand-crafted products, and tap their toes to great folksy rock bands.
About Grand Junction (www.visitgrandjunction.com). Grand Junction is Colorado’s Wine Country featuring 22 wineries with year-round tasting rooms, and boasts more than 275 days of sunshine annually which helps produce much of the state’s peach and fruit crop. It is the largest city in Western Colorado, located near the Colorado River between Salt Lake City and Denver on Interstate 70. At an altitude of 4,586 feet, warm summers and moderate spring, fall and winter seasons allow for year-round golf, hiking and world-renown biking. Among Grand Junction's spectacular red cliffs and winding canyons are the 11,000-foot Grand Mesa, the world's largest flat-topped mountain, the 7,500-foot Book Cliffs including the Wild Horse Area, and the 7,000-foot Colorado National Monument. Other attractions include three national scenic byways, rafting, hunting, fishing, extensive public art displays, museums, and a vibrant downtown. Grand Junction lies in the heart of the Colorado-Utah Dinosaur Diamond and the Grand Circle.