Blessed by nature, Grand Junction, Colorado is surrounded by otherworldly geography. The city is framed by three natural wonders, known as Nature’s Trifecta. The diverse landscapes are unique not only to Colorado, but the entire planet.

Nature's Trifecta

The Colorado National Monument, part of the NPS (National Park Service) is the first of the three geological sites and is often referred to as a mini-Grand Canyon. Towering spires, red-rock canyons and scenic overlooks have been carved by nature over millions of years, showcasing intricate layers of rock that tell a geological story. Second is the Grand Mesa, which stands at over 10,000 feet in elevation and is the largest flat-top mountain in the world. Bursting with over 300 alpine lakes, the Grand Mesa is everything you imagine when you think of Colorado – aspen groves mixed with evergreen forests and wildflowers abound. Tying out the trifecta is Rattlesnake Arches. The Arches are the second-largest concentration of natural arches in the world with over 35 to view, and all without the crowds you find at other popular locations. 

 

While there are many notable landscapes in Grand Junction, there is no other place in the world where you can find three geological wonders as distinctive and as contrasting as Nature’s Trifecta! The convergence of these obscure landscapes creates a tapestry of natural beauty and endless opportunities for year-round adventures unique to each of the four seasons. Even the New York Times agrees, recognizing it as a top tier destination to visit

Aerial View of Cross-Country Skier on the Grand Mesa

To kickstart your 2024 travel plans, check out this epic list of 24 activities to explore in Grand Junction. Although this will keep you plenty busy, don’t sleep on last year’s list of 23 things to do. Considering area lodging is very affordable, year-round, you can now justify extending your stay and checking off a few more epic Grand Junction experiences.

 

1. Powder for Days - Skiing & Snowboarding

Snowboarder at Powderhorn Mountain Resort

Just 45 minutes from Grand Junction, break free for a day trip to a skier’s and snowboarder’s paradise on the Grand Mesa at Powderhorn Mountain Resort. With four chair lifts, an average snowfall of 250 inches, alpine tree skiing, and two terrain parks, Powderhorn is a perfect winter escape for those looking to carve some Colorado corduroy. Also known as one of the most welcoming and affordable ski resorts in Colorado, Powderhorn is very family-friendly and doesn’t have the traffic jams and crowds you find at other popular Colorado ski resorts. Powderhorn was also just named as one of the best snowboarding resorts in the world by Travel + Leisure.

 

2. Snowy Trailblazers - Snowshoeing

Four people snowshoeing through the Trees

Don’t let fresh powder stop you from exploring the great outdoors on foot. Strap on snowshoes and seek out the epic views on the Grand Mesa this winter. Snowshoe on the Lost Lake Trail for a moderate four-mile roundtrip hike that leads to two beautiful frozen alpine lakes, South Mesa Lake and Lost Lake. While you can turn around at South Mesa Lake, the full hike is completed by continuing past to Lost Lake. If you prefer to stay close to others and on groomed trails, check out the Ward Lake Nordic Ski Trail. Here, snowshoers are welcome to follow the Nordic ski trails so you don’t have to navigate a trail yourself. Be sure to walk on the sides to avoid damaging the ski trails.

 

3. Nordic Gliders - Cross-country Skiing

Girl Nordic Skiing on the Grand Mesa with her Dog

Grand Junction has over 31 miles of professionally groomed Nordic ski trails across three different areas on the Grand Mesa: Skyway Trails, County Line Trails, and Ward Trails. These trail areas are maintained by the Grand Mesa Nordic Council. They work to provide a safe and enjoyable cross-country skiing at no charge. There’s also no need to leave Fido at home because the County Line and the Ward trail areas are dog-friendly, which makes it a perfect winter activity for you and your pup! The Nordic Council hosts clinics, retreats, and classes for beginners to advanced – they are an amazing resource.

 

4. Earn Your Turns - Back-country skiing

Backcountry Skiing on the Grand Mesa

The Grand Mesa offers more than traditional winter sports. With the rising popularity of backcountry skiing, also known as 'off-piste' or 'alpine touring,' backcountry skiing involves exploring unmarked areas beyond resort boundaries. The Grand Mesa’s abundance of snow, expansive remote areas and diverse terrain make it an ideal location for this adventurous sport. The old Mesa Creek Backcountry Ski Area consists of 13 backcountry runs for you to conquer or purchase an uphill ski day pass at Powderhorn Mountain Resort for only $19. 

 

5. Powder Pilots - Snowmobiling

Snowmobiler Jumping on the Grand Mesa

Grand Junction has become a prime destination for snowmobile enthusiasts, offering pristine alpine wilderness, a mild winter climate, and an array of snowmobile trails and wide open areas. The Grand Mesa has over 800 square miles of snowmobile terrain to explore including the iconic Sunlight to Powderhorn Trail, spanning 123 miles. This trail runs from Powderhorn Ski Area to Sunlight Ski Area and is one of the longest snowmobile trails in the contiguous United States. 

 

6. Drop a Line

 
Ice Fishing

Guide to Ice Fishing in Colorado

Chasing the next big kahuna doesn’t have to stop when the water freezes. Grab your poles, your auger and head to the Grand Mesa this winter for amazing ice fishing opportunities. One of the most popular areas to ice fish is Island Lake, which is the largest lake on the Grand Mesa. It is filled with catchable trout and has been the source of some impressive Snake River cutthroat trout and brook trout. If you prefer fishing on smaller bodies of water, the Mesa Lakes area consists of three smaller lakes - Sunset Lake, Beaver Lake and Mesa Lake. Each is stocked with catchable trout and is much less of a trek to your next honey hole. 

 
Freshwater Fishing

Woman Fly Fishing on a Paddleboard on The Grand Mesa

Thanks to the high-elevation landscapes that surround Grand Junction, there are hundreds of freshwater fishing spots. From creeks and streams to lakes and reservoirs, finding a place to catch a beautifully spotted brook trout or a vibrant rainbow trout is easy. Kannah Creek is one of the most popular fishing spots around Grand Junction and is known for its beautiful freshwater brook trout. Park at Kannah Creek Trailhead on Kannah Creek Road and hike along the bank to find your perfect scenic spot to drop a line. If you’re looking for an easily accessible place to cast, Ward Creek Lake on the Grand Mesa is a popular spot. With a paved parking lot nearby, this lake has both rainbow and brook trout so it’s easy to set up your bait and spend the day on the shore. 

 
Warmwater Fishing

Man Holding Large Carp

During the summer months, trout are a bit finicky and stressed as they are sensitive to heat and warm water. It’s best to fish early in the morning or late in the evening. Better yet, try another variety - if you still wish to keep your lines tight during the summer months without harming the freshwater fish, there are plenty of warm water fishing spots around Grand Junction to explore. As part of the James M. Robb State Park’s “String of Pearls,” Connected Lakes is just 3.5 miles from Downtown Grand Junction and gives you the chance to catch a variety of fish species like largemouth bass, black crappie, channel catfish, blue gill, and green sunfish. You can also try your hand at Mack Mesa Lake at Highline State Park for yellow perch, largemouth bass, and even common carp. 

 

7. Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah - Ziplining  

River Front Zip Adventures

As one of Grand Junction’s newest and most thrilling attractions, Riverfront Zip Adventures at Las Colonias Park is a zippin’ good time. Starting at Eagle Rim Park, you will zoom over the Colorado River and the Butterfly Pond at Las Colonias Park before rappelling 30 feet off the tower. As you fly through the sky, you will be awe-inspired by the magnificent views of the area surrounding you. It’s truly a unique and scenic zipline filled with a healthy dose of adrenaline. The zipline is set to open for the season in April 2024.

 

8. Ice, Ice, Baby - Ice Skating

Woman Ice Skating on Frozen Lake

While Grand Junction may be considered high desert, there are still places to ice skate. During the winter, neighborhood kids play ice hockey on Connected Lakes or skate at Mack Mesa Lake at Highline State Park. For year-round ice-skating fun, check out River City Sportsplex. Keep an eye out for cosmic skate night, where night skating includes a dark rink, light show, and music!

 

9. Put one foot in front of the other - Year-round Hiking

 
Colorado National Monument

Woman Hiking in Colorado National Monument in the Winter

Known as the “Heart of the World,” the Colorado National Monument provides majestic views and easily accessible year-round hiking trails. Grand Junction's temperate climate makes the Colorado National Monument just as enjoyable in the winter as it is in the summer. With over 43 miles of hiking trails and beautiful views at every overlook, hiking in the Colorado National Monument can be enjoyed year-round by all skill levels. Guests who visit the Monument often state that is looks like a mini Grand Canyon.

 
Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area

Frozen Waterfall in Big Dominguez Canyon

Hike through time and alongside waterfalls on the Big Dominguez Canyon trail. In just under 30 minutes from Grand Junction, you will arrive and be on the trail viewing ancient Native American artifacts, shelters, and petroglyphs. As you traverse the trail numerous waterfalls emerge along the journey. Keep a vigilant eye for wildlife, including bighorn sheep, deer and pronghorn, as these furry creatures are frequently spotted along the path. Find more waterfall hikes in Grand Junction in this blog.

 
Rattlesnake Arches in McInnis National Conservation Area

Rattlesnake Arches view with dangling shoes from camera man

As the second-largest concentration of arches in the world, Rattlesnake Canyon is filled with over 35 natural arches, known as Rattlesnake Arches. There are two ways to access the Arches, as illustrated here. The longer route is accessible year-round and is a strenuous 15.5-mile roundtrip hike. If you’re looking for an easier hike, take an OHV or high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle to the Rattlesnake Arches trailhead from Glade Park, which leaves you with just under 4 miles for the roundtrip hike. However, this route is closed from February 15 through April 15 due to snow melt so be sure to plan accordingly. For more information on Rattlesnake Arches and how to get there, refer to this blog.

 

10. Pedal Posse - Biking 

 
Mountain Biking

Picture of Guy Riding Mountain Bike Over Rocks Downhill

Known as a mecca for mountain bike enthusiasts, Grand Junction has some of the best trail connectivity in the country. The expert-level 32-mile downhill Palisade Plunge (pack 2.5 gallons of water per rider) descends over 6,000 feet in elevation from the top of the Grand Mesa to Grand Junction. Or take on the 27-mile Kokopelli Trail, which travels from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah. If you prefer your two-wheel adventures a little shorter and closer to town, Lunch Loops is less than 3 miles from Downtown Grand Junction and consists of 56 trails for a total of 39 miles of mountain biking mania. The trail systems in the area are world-class, so don’t sleep on it!

 
Road Biking

Cyclists in the Colorado National Monument

Mountain biking isn’t the only two-wheel adventure in Grand Junction. Clip in and follow the pavement to the most scenic road biking views in Colorado. While mountain biking is not permitted in the Colorado National Monument, Rim Rock Drive is open to road bikers year-round. This 23-mile scenic route is perfect for those looking to be challenged with an incline, yet rewarded with stunning overlooks and jaw-dropping views. If you prefer a more leisurely route, hop on the Colorado Riverfront Trail. Cruise along this 22-mile paved trail and see the mighty Colorado River as it parallels this nature path. It is common to spot wildlife on this route, so keep your eyes peeled for herons, eagles, hawks, owls, deer and foxes!

 

11. Secret Stash - Geocaching 

Woman Hiking Along Canyon

Geocachers rejoice! Grand Junction’s 1.6 million acres of public land is scattered with numerous treasures for you sleuthhounds. Add this fun treasure-seeking challenge to your next hike or bike ride for an exciting adventure hunt in the great outdoors. With approximately 833 geocaches around Grand Junction, there are hundreds of geocaches to be discovered. Just follow the clues, find the cache, log your name, and leave the geocache for the next treasure hunter! 

 

12. Pinfluencers  - DIY Activities  

Group at Funky Junk GJ

Find your muse in Grand Junction at these DIY art shops. Paint a masterpiece at the Palette, glaze ceramics at Fat Cat Pottery or Angelo’s Pottery Studio, or craft a custom-scented candle at Candle Kitchen. Bring Pinterest ideas to life at Funky Junk DIY Studio or Pinspiration, which has a spatter room. Uncanny Valley also has a spatter room. Whichever DIY inspiration you choose, unleash your creativity in Grand Junction!

 

13. Museum Mavens 

Cross Orchards Historic Site

Learn about Grand Junction's rich history through its three museums. The Dinosaur Journey Museum showcases fossils and animatronic dinosaurs, including a Brachiosaurus discovery at Riggs Hill, which was the world’s largest dinosaur fossil when it was discovered in July 1900. Cross Orchards Historic Site provides a glimpse into early apple orchard life, functioning as both a museum and a working farm. Visit the site on Saturday mornings, June 3 – October 14, for the Cross Orchards Farmer’s Market and enjoy train rides for the kiddos. Or, stop by the Museum of the West for exhibits of real firearms from Kit Carson and Annie Oakley, Ancestral Puebloan artifacts and a pastime saloon, detailing Grand Junction's role in shaping the American West. The museum is one of only 13 accredited museums in Colorado by the American Alliance of Museums.

Commemorative Air Force Museum

Take to the sky and explore the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Museum - Rocky Mountain Wing in Grand Junction. This museum has both the largest and smallest WWII single-engine planes on display - the TBM Avenger and the J-3 Cub also known as the “Grasshopper”. Located at the Grand Junction Regional Airport, The CAF Rocky Mountain Wing Museum is open to the public, but be sure to schedule a reservation before going because it sits in a secure area at the airport. If you’re feeling really brave, book a 40-minute flight in either the TBM Avenger or the J3 Cub with one of the club members.

 

14. Vertical Voyagers - Rock Climbing & Bouldering

 
Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing in Colorado National Monument

Embark on a rock-climbing adventure in Grand Junction, where big climbs attract famous climbers from around the world. Unaweep Canyon, just outside the city, offers over 2,300 routes, from multi-pitch trad routes to bolted sport routes. Sunday Wall is a local favorite, providing both trad and bolted climbing choices. Colorado National Monument also attracts climbers with its sandstone cliff faces, towering spires and panoramic views of the stunning landscapes. Traditional climbing is required, as the installation of new permanent hardware is prohibited. Independence Monument is a yearly climb where locals stake an American flag at the top and let it fly for over a week.

 
Bouldering

Man Bouldering up Millenium Falcon

For bouldering enthusiasts, the Millennium Falcon is a must-visit site. This iconic rock formation features a juggy overhang leading to an exciting mantle at the top, which provides an entertaining challenge for climbers of all levels. Make sure to bring crash pads because it will likely take you a couple of tries to get to the top as seen in this Outside TV episode of Venturing Out Park2Park

 

15. Backcountry Bandits - Off-roading 

 
Jeeping

Blue Jeep Crawling Over a Large Rock

While Grand Junction is known for its renowned hiking and biking trails, the area’s trail networks offer more than just hiking and biking. With closures of trails in nearby states, Grand Junction is a popular year-round destination for off-roading adventures. Hop in and head to Rattlesnake Arches Trail from Glade Park for a popular off-road ride that ends with views of 35 natural arches or discover Monument Rocks in the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area for red sandstone rock formations.

 
RZRing

RZR Side By Side in the Desert

Kick up dust on a side-by-side thrill ride in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area! Rent an OHV or RZR from one of Grand Junction’s OHV rental companies or bring your own. Rabbit Valley offers the opportunity to experience desert, forest and the Colorado River all in one ride. This vast open space has intricate trail systems that will keep you nervously excited and driving fast all day. If you prefer to stay closer to town, check out the Grand Junction OHV area. This area is filled with rolling hills, challenging climbs, and a variety of interconnected trails so there is plenty of room to explore and chase that adrenaline rush. 

 
Singletrack/Dirtbiking

Singletrack Trail on the Uncompahgre

The Uncompahgre National Forest has extremely scenic singletrack in the area. For a long route that will take you through a variety of different landscapes, take the Hungry Gulch trail (FR 402.1A). At about 11.7 miles long, the Hungry Gulch trail is moderately difficult and has an elevation gain of about 1,138 feet roundtrip. For something a little shorter but equally as scenic, Gill ATV trail (FR #403.2A) is a rewarding route that takes you to a small creek known as Gill Creek before one last moderate hill climb. 

 

16. Retail Therapy – Shopping

Shopping in Grand Junction

Grand Junction’s shopping scene might surprise you! There are no franchises in Downtown Grand Junction, so the many unique boutiques provide the best shopping from clothing to art, with thousands of items you won’t find anywhere else. The locally-owned shops offer everything from outdoor gear to your very own custom blend of tea. Stroll along the wide pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and admire the 115 sculptures and murals that frame the sidewalks. Pop into A Robin’s Nest for an eclectic mix of vintage treasures or treat yourself at Pollux Boutique for trendy fashion finds. 

As the largest indoor shopping center between Denver and Salt Lake City, Mesa Mall is a great place to shop for the name brands you love. With popular stores like Cabela’s, Bath & Body Works, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dillard’s, and Target, Mesa Mall is the go-to place to get your retail fix. For a totally retro throwback, pop into Spencer’s and step into a time machine back to the 80’s. Plus, there is even fun for the kiddos at Mesa Mall. They can keep busy and buzz around on motorized stuffed animals while you peruse the stores.

 

17. Party like a Rock Star - Events

 
Country Jam

Country Jam Colorado

As the largest country music festival in Colorado, Country Jam is set for another year filled with an exciting lineup of country music's biggest stars from June 20 – 24, 2024. Famous acts tearing up the stage in Grand Junction include Jelly Roll, Parker McCollum, Thomas Rhett, Priscilla Block, Flatland Cavalry, Koe Wetzel, Lee Brice, Craig Morgan, Meg Mcree and many more. Get your tickets to 2024 Country Jam today!

 
Junior College World Series (JUCO)

Runner at the Junior College World Series

Hosted for over 60 years in Grand Junction is the Junior College World Series. This year, JUCO will be held on May 25 – June 31, 2024, at Suplizio Field. Junior colleges from all over the nation battle for a chance to play on this big stage, so grab your peanuts and cracker jacks and “root, root, root for the home team” in Grand Junction! Major League Baseball scouts flock to this NJCAA World Series to scope out talent and court the next big star of the MLB.

 
Colorado Mesa University

CMU Football Player being Tackled

Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction offers a variety of events throughout the year. For Division 2 athletics, Colorado Mesa is always one of the top competitors in their league for almost every sport. Football, tennis, women’s wrestling, lacrosse, basketball, volleyball – you name It! If you prefer the art of theatre, music or dance, Colorado Mesa students also perform throughout the year so keep an eye out for upcoming performances. A full list of Colorado Mesa University events are listed here.

 
Downtown Grand Junction

Picture of People Crossing the Finish Line in a Bike Race

Downtown Grand Junction is always humming with family-friendly events throughout the year - all free to the public. Downtown Rides & Vibes, May 10 – 11, 2024, is a bike race and a live music festival all wrapped into one big event. Downtown Market on Main, Thursdays from July 11 – September 26, hosts local farmers, makers, music, and artisans. Be sure to also keep an eye out for holiday-focused events like the Fourth of July Parade, Downtown Spooktacular, and the Parade of Lights. All of which are fun and free for the whole family!

 

18. I like it, Picasso! – Art

 
Art Center of Western Colorado

Two Women looking at art on the wall in the Art Center of Western Colorado

For a truly unique and immersive art experience, the Art Center of Western Colorado rotates monthly with exclusive and inspirational art exhibits from a variety of talented artists from around the country. Keep an eye on the current exhibitions and if you are hoping to create your very own masterpiece, plan for these events and classes. Extend your art fix and discover other art galleries and working studios in Grand Junction.

 

19. Fireside talks - Camping

There’s no better way to road trip than packing up the fifth wheel or the family motor home and hitting the open road. Grand Junction is the perfect RV destination because it offers opportunities to park your rig whilst venturing out and exploring the stunning local landscapes that can only be found in Grand Junction. There are a multitude of family-friendly RV parks as well as conveniently located lots that are open and available year-round in Grand Junction.

RV at Canyon View RV Park

If you prefer your camping adventures fireside and in a tent, Grand Junction has a variety of campgrounds and tent sites for you to consider. Saddlehorn Campground is located in Colorado National Monument, also known as the “heart of the world,” is your National Park Service (NPS) campsite and has the best view of night skies. For an untouched natural camping stay, James M. Robb Colorado River State Park has two sections – Island Acres Section and Fruita Section – that offer affordable and scenic campgrounds surrounded by lakes and activities to enhance your camping adventures. 

Child Looking out While Camping

While Grand Junction has various RV parks and campgrounds providing convenient amenities including showers, pools, and outdoor movie theaters, you may enjoy finding your own site and unplugging from the world. For those of you who would rather seek out the area’s public lands and set up camp wherever you see fit, there are plenty of options in Grand Junction. From the Grand Mesa to the Uncompahgre National Forest, finding your very own dispersed camping spot is easy in Grand Junction.

 

20. Happy Harvest - Farm Visits

Woman Picking Peaches

Grand Junction is rooted in agriculture, thanks to its fertile land and temperate climate. The fruit, vegetables, and wine grapes of the region are characterized by the unique soil, warm days and cool nights – imparting a distinctive and complex flavor profile that reflects the region’s sun-kissed canyons and lush land fed by the Colorado River. In addition, lavender farms and alpacas can be found on the farms in Grand Junction. Many of these family-owned farms have been passed down from generation to generation with the first ever fruit tree being planted in Grand Junction in 1883. Check out all the local farms and orchards – some allow you to pick your own fruit, like Fruit Basket Orchards

 

21. Horsing Around – Views from a horse

Two men on horses in Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range

The Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Range is one of only three wild horse sanctuaries in the nation dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses. There are very few things that are as symbolic of the American West as these steadfast steeds roaming freely in nature on over 36,000 acres of preserved land. For a guided wild horse tour that currently has a 100% success rate when it comes to viewing these majestic creatures, book your wild horse excursion with JR’s Carriage Service. It’s a life-changing experience when you see wild horses galloping the open range.

 

22. Par-Tee Time - Golf

Redlands Mesa Golf Course

Grand Junction’s comfortable and temperate year-round climate means you can golf any time of the year. Take a swing at Redlands Mesa Golf Course, named the top golf course in Colorado by Golf Weekly, or putt it in on the greens at Tiara Rado Golf Course, which is nestled at the base of the Colorado National Monument. For an easy and quick round, Lincoln Park Golf Course is only 9 holes and is in the middle of Grand Junction. If the weather isn’t cooperating for a sunny day on the links, head over to X-Golf for an indoor golf simulation with the convenience of a full-service bar.

Putt-putt professionals can have their golf fun in Grand Junction too! Banana’s Fun Park has a mini golf course for those who rely more on the accuracy of the push and roll than hitting the long drive. If you prefer to put the sticks away and pull out a disc, Grand Junction has nine disc golf courses to play on. Grand Junction is a golfer’s paradise!

 

23. Barstool Banter - Craft Beverages

People sitting around fires at Highland's Distillery

While Grand Junction is known for its award-winning wineries, the destination has also been carefully crafting up seriously delicious brews and spirits for quite a long time. The next time you’re in Grand Junction be sure to stop by your favorite winery while also making time to sip at the breweries and distilleries. Many of the local libations incorporate produce from nearby farms so you are not only enjoying a great tasting bevvy, your palette tastes the flavors grown from Grand Junction’s unique terroir. 

 

24. Splish Splash  - Water Fun 

Woman on SUP with Mt. Garfield in Background

Grand Junction is considered a high desert, but don’t let that fool you. The Gunnison River and the mighty Colorado River converge right in town, the Grand Mesa is lush with over 300 lakes, and the Colorado State Parks have a multitude of rivers and creeks. So, Grand Junction is far from your typical desert. These famous bodies of water make for exciting non-motorized water activities like stand-up paddleboarding, rafting and kayaking. Find a full list of water sport fun and places to go in this blog

 

For more exciting activities to add to your 2024 adventure list, check out the Official Grand Junction Visitor Guide or get inspired with 2022's list of 22 things to do