Grand Junction sits right at the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers. The name "Grand Junction" even comes from the city's proximity to these two significant riverways. The Colorado snakes through the Grand Valley, and downtown Grand Junction is only a few minutes walk from its sandy banks.
Along the Colorado River there are 24 miles of paved paths, perfect for walking, biking (including e-bikes except at the Audobon section of the trail), even rollerblading. Grand Junction's Riverfront Trail makes it possible to get from Downtown Grand Junction, all the way to Loma, over 20 miles away, without ever getting on a major roadway. And the best part is, there is plenty to do along the way of this paved scenic trail. From birdwatching and fishing to dining and craft beverage sipping, to art and wildlife gazing, all can be experienced at a leisurely pace any time of day or night.
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Start at the Las Calonias Amphitheater, right next to the Grand Junction Botanical Gardens. From the parking lot, hop on the trail and start heading west. In front of you and to your left, stunning views of the river and of Colorado National Monument’s red rock canyons will accompany you the entire way.
As head out, you’ll see Watson Island, one of Grand Junction’s 16 parks. Covered with large oak trees that thrive from the river, Watson Island is also a fun and challenging frisbee golf course. Even if you’re not playing, the paved paths that navigate this little island make a perfect scenic stroll that doesn’t stray too far from the parking lot.
If you skip Watson Island and keep heading west down the trail, you will soon come across the first series of underpass murals. As part of the aRT Project, Grand Junction changed what normally would attract graffiti and developed an opportunity for local artists to create elaborate murals on the concrete bridge supports instead. Artists submitted draft designs, and seven were chosen to bring their vision to life along the Riverfront Trail. Murals can be found under the Redlands Parkway, Lower No Thoroughfare, Riverside Overpass, and Highway 50 overpass. These murals aren't the only art you'll find along the way. Sculptures also reside along the trail, like the large flying birds that watch over the benches at one of the scenic rest areas.
Along the Riverfront trail is also a stellar place for birdwatching. Blue Herons use their long legs to land in the shallow waters while they feast on fish. Hawks soar overhead along with Bald Eagles. The best bird watching in all of Grand Junction can be found right off the main artery of the Riverfront Trail. Take the short Audubon Trail to Connected Lakes, a wildlife area home to more than 200 species of birds! The calm waters of the four connected lakes are perfect for kayakers and paddleboarders who are often seen floating across the water. You can cast your line at Connected Lakes too; anywhere along the Colorado River is popular for fly fishing.
Stopping for some nosh is convenient - Handlebar Tap House is right off the Audubon Section of the Riverfront Trail. Stop in and choose from over 20 beers on tap to go along with a hearty burger or their famous cowboy fries. Locals would argue these are some of the best fries in the area. Or, head into downtown, just a few minutes ride from the parking lot at Las Calonias. Try Tacoparty, a small taco shop with an upbeat, modern and vibrant ambiance where seasonal artisan tacos are on the menu. Each week features six new taco combinations made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Also rotating weekly is their selection of soft serve ice cream, which most definitely makes for the perfect treat after an afternoon spent enjoying Grand Junction’s Riverfront Trail.
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Check out the Grand Junction Adventure Guide.