Five Ways to Experience Grand Junction that Should be on Your List!

It’s no surprise that Grand Junction, Colorado—known for its diverse landscapes including mountains, rivers, canyons, lakes, and mesas—also offers contrasting and unique experiences that showcase another side of the state that you might not expect. Hike along a trail with dinosaur tracks or make your own while mountain biking or skiing at Powderhorn Mountain Resort.  

And with so many unique options to consider, the toughest part is deciding where to start. To help you out, we designed this go-to guide with all the details you need to ensure your getaway provides you just the right balance of unique adventure and a peaceful escape, leaving you refreshed and rejuvenated.

1. Wander Colorado National Monument

There are endless ways to explore the outdoors in Grand Junction, but if this is your first visit, you’ll definitely want to check out the Colorado National Monument. You will find trails that range from easy, half-mile hikes to 14-mile backcountry treks. No matter what trail you choose, as soon as you enter the Monument,  the sight of the towering cliffs and intricate spires will leave you speechless. Additionally, don’t forget to check out Window Rock at the Book Cliffs View Overlook, it is truly a stop worth making. Independence Monument View, Artists Point, and Cold Shivers are also iconic viewpoints along the way, but who are we kidding? Every view from the Colorado National Monument is iconic.

 
 
 
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2. Dirt, H20, or Powder

Grand Junction is a year-round outdoor adventure destination due to its consistently temperate climate. Regardless of the season, the Grand Junction area has a wide variety of mountain bike trails to explore. With wide-open spaces and little to no crowds, Grand Junction makes you feel like you own the trail. The Lunch Loops offer some of Colorado’s best and most demanding mountain bike trails that will have you pushing yourself to a whole new level. The Kokopelli Trail Network has an abundance of fast and flowy trails with various technical sections mixed in. It also provides you with some of the best views, that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Grand Junction is also the perfect place to get out on the water. James M. Robb-Colorado River State Park is designed with different sections that run along the Colorado River, each providing a different experience, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, rafting, or simply enjoying a leisurely float on a tube to relax with nature. Highline Lake State Park is the go-to lake for locals, and Imondi Wake Zone is the hotspot for those looking to cool off on a wakeboard – the cable system accommodates beginner to expert water enthusiasts (open April – October).

If you are making ski trip plans for the upcoming winter season, a trip to Powderhorn Mountain Resort is a must. Considering it is less than an hour from Grand Junction, spans 1,600 acres of terrain, and averages 250 inches of fresh powder each year, it makes it hard to pass up. Besides the terrain park, over 30 percent of the ski resort offers challenging runs for more advanced skiers, including Bear Claw, Sweet Misery, and Equalizer. If you like tree-skiing, Powderhorn has some of the best in the state with 1,200 acres of off-piste powder. Back-country skiing is also free for those that want to earn their turns.

 
 
 
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3. Step Back in Time

Who isn’t at least a little bit fascinated by dinosaurs? Considering that so many dinosaur bones have been found in this region of Western Colorado and Eastern Utah, it is no surprise that there are ways to get up close and personal with these ancient beasts. Featuring robotic dinosaurs, a vast collection of fossils, and a real working paleontology lab, the Dinosaur Journey Museum is a fun place to start for the kiddos. Check out the Dinosaur Hill Interpretive Trail. This one-mile trail is appropriate for all abilities and goes past the site of the 70-foot long, 30-ton Apatosaurus that was collected in the area back in 1901 by Elmer Riggs - one of the biggest dinosaurs ever discovered. The Trail Through Time is another popular dino trail, a 1.5 mile moderate round trip in the Rabbit Valley, 20 miles west of Grand Junction. Interpretive signs will help you see the 140 million-year-old Jurassic Age dinosaur and plant fossils along the way. 

 
 
 
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4.Taste the Harvest of the Area

For something casual and unique, stop by TacoParty in Downtown Grand Junction. Every week they offer a new menu of six appetizers, six tacos, and gourmet soft-serve ice cream (yes, we just said that) —all made with an intention to showcase local farmers, ranchers, brewers, distillers, and winemakers. With options like duck confit, persimmon salsa, arugula, and miso purée, these are not your ordinary tacos. And we promise you haven’t had guacamole like this before. 

 
 
 
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If you’re intrigued by what’s going on at TacoParty, you’ll also like Bin 707 Foodbar. Both are owned by Josh Niernberg, a James Beard Award-nominated Chef, known for showcasing fresh, innovative, and local ingredients. At Bin 707, the menu is seasonal, which guarantees you a quality farm to fork experience. The Yam Rosti Smoked Trout, Colorado Lamb, and Porchetta dishes are all the talk of the town. The famous Bin Burger topped with Beehive white cheddar, complemented by twice-cooked, hand-cut skinny French fries has been a long-time local favorite. It became so popular that Chef Niernberg had to open a sister restaurant, Bin Burger, to support the demand.

5. Be inspired with Local Art

You don’t have to go far to experience the art of Grand Junction. Downtown is a certified Creative Art District and is thoughtfully decorated with inspirational murals, unique sculptures, and colorful landscaping. Take a walk down the pedestrian-friendly Main Street and immerse yourself in Art on the Corner, a famous collection of over 100 sculptures, perfect for selfies and fun group photos. Close by is the Western Colorado Center for the Arts and also the Art Center which displays several rotating exhibits that will leave you feeling creatively inspired!

As you can see, Grand Junction offers authentic Colorado experiences that are unique to this area: trails that provide you the peace and quiet you long for, the agricultural bounty of nearby farms and orchards that treat your palate with new and progressive culinary bites, history to bring the past to life, and arts to leave you uplifted. Stop by the Grand Junction Visitor Center at 740 Horizon Drive right off I-70 or visit VisitGrandJunction.com for more trip ideas and information on the area’s many affordable lodging options.

Written by Matcha for the City of Grand Junction.

 

Looking for more ideas on how to spend your day in Grand Junction? Check out itineraries starting on page 16 of the Grand Junction Adventure Guide.