How to Create a Grand Junction Summer You'll Never Forget

Summer is a special time of year. It’s the perfect time to be outside, to explore, to experience something new while days are sunny and long. This summer in Grand Junctin is going to be packed full of experiences that you’ll cherish forever, so start planning now!

Must Attend Festivals

Summer is synonymous with festival season. Sunny days are perfect for outdoor events spent with friends. There’s no better way to do that then a campout at one of the largest country parties on Earth. Every year, thousands of people come together to camp out under the stars for three days of Country Jam, a music festival held right outside Grand Junction. Along with those thousands of fans, some of the biggest names in Country Music descend on Grand Junction. Summer 2019 brings together country legends like Little Big Town, Alabama, Sam Hunt, Luke Bryan, and many more.  

After Country Jam, it’s time to cross a physical challenge off the summer bucket list. Check out the Grand Junction Off-Road Classic. This epic mountain bike festival is made up of either 15, 30, or 40-mile rides on some of Colorado’s best and most technically challenging trails in the famed Lunch Loops trail system. At the same time, the Downtown Grand Junction Music Fest is happening. The off-road classic combined with three days of live music and festivities unites outdoor enthusiasts from all over the country. So tune-up your bike and show up to accomplish something grand and then relax in the beer garden and enjoy three days of free live music in one of Colorado’s most charming downtowns. 

Finally, you have to experience a truly unique small-town festival. Mike was just an ordinary chicken with an exceptional will to live. This persistent little chicken lived for 18 months after his head had been cut off and went on to become a nationwide celebrity. Mike toured the country while people came from all over to see the Headless Chicken. Now, every year the town of Fruita has Mike the Headless Chicken Festival, a two-day event with live music, a car show, 5k runs, and of course, a hot wing eating contest.

Stop by to see what else is happening this summer!

Camp on the World’s Largest Flat-Top Mountain.

The Grand Mesa is home to some of the darkest night skies around, which makes for unmatched stargazing. In the summer months, the northern hemisphere is lit up with the Milky Way, making the stunning band of our galaxy visible for much of the night. The Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-top mountain, boasts over 300 lakes and they all reflect the glowing skies at night. For campgrounds with amenities, Island Lake Campground and Jumbo Campground are both perfect locations. To find your own slice of paradise with some dispersed camping, head down Lands End Road. This 12-mile stretch passes through open plains and aspen groves with plenty of sites to choose from.

      Land's End Observatory on top of the Grand Mesa

During the day, the Grand Mesa plays host to plenty of fishing, paddling, SUP’ing, hiking, and biking. Island Lake is a popular destination for paddlers, feel free to travel out and explore the island in the middle! Crag Crest is a hiking trail that takes you high above your surroundings. This skinny trail overlooks dozens of lakes and has breathtaking views in every direction. Looking to get some pedaling in? County Line is a moderate 7-mile trail that rolls through the forest and boulder fields with a few scenic lookouts to the lakes below. Skip the pedaling at Powderhorn Mountain Resort and let the chairlift do all the work. All you have to do is cruise the fast and flowy downhill trails and we dare you not to squeal with excitement!

     Photo by @skipowderhorn

Climb Independence Monument

Summit the 450-foot monolith that is Independence Monument. John Otto, the founder of the Colorado National Monument, first climbed this giant tower in 1911, and people have been following the route he made ever since. Otto worked day after day for weeks building his route into the side of Independence so others could summit and stand on an area only large enough for a school bus. He hammered in iron pipes to make handholds and carved steps into the stone to aid the ascent. He wanted the climb to be accessible to anyone. While everyone can see Independence Monument from several viewpoints on Rim Rock Drive, only adventurous outdoor enthusiasts choose to climb and then view Rim Rock Drive from atop Independence Monument. Several climbing outfitters are approved by the National Monument to run guided climbs. If you want to reach the high point of your summer but aren’t sure how to get started, a guided climb is the way to go.

     Photo by @ash_posh_bgosh

Enjoy a Game at JUCO

Every year, for over 60 years, the Junior College Baseball World Series has been held right here in Grand Junction. Teams from around the country gather for a week of competitive tournament action. Cheer from the stands with other fans as these young athletes put all their dedication, passion, and practice to the test. No ball game would be complete without a hot dog or, better yet, treat yourself to an area favorite, the Navajo Taco. Served on a large flat piece of fried dough piled high with ground beef, lettuce, sour cream, beans, and salsa - you’ll need a fork and an appetite to eat it!

Float the Colorado River

There’s no better reprieve from a hot summer day than a leisurely float on the Colorado River. The river through town is calm and gentle, which means you don’t need to be an expert river runner to get out on the water. You don’t even need a raft, an inner tube will do just fine. Plan ahead and drop off one car down river then drive east to hop in for your refreshing float downstream.

The James M. Robb Colorado River State Park is a series of five sections spread out along the Colorado River from Palisade all the way to Fruita and are great places to start or end your journey! Hop in at the Corn Lake section that has easy river access for boaters and rafters, so you can just walk right in on the boat launch. Be sure to plan ahead with sunscreen, snacks, water and shades.

     Photo by @gofruita

Take advantage of one of these great western Colorado experiences, or pack them all into a fantastic summer season. Either way, don’t you think it’s time you made the trip to Grand Junction to experience something dramatically different?


Check out more summer activities on page 29 of the Grand Junction Adventure Guide.