Surrounded by over 1.5 million acres of public lands, Grand Junction is known as a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, especially those looking to avoid the crowds the Front Range and other Colorado National Parks are becoming known for. Hiking, mountain biking, and OHV’ing abound here with trails that are coveted around the world due to the thousands of miles of connectivity with trails offering easy to expert difficulty regardless of sport. All that public land also means plenty of pristine and scenic camping. While you can enjoy dispersed camping on BLM, there are also several designated BLM campgrounds throughout the Grand Junction area, and each has its own unique attributes. One thing’s for sure, you will be rewarded with room to explore, regardless of your chosen activity.
Located in the North Fruita Desert, the 18 Road campground is at the base of the Book Cliffs. 18 Road is also known for its biking trails, making this campground perfect for anyone looking to spend a weekend mountain biking pristine single-track trails. Step out of your tent in the morning and onto famed trails like PBR, Zippity Do Da, and Joe’s Ridge for fast and uninterrupted downhill action that will leave a smile permanently plastered on your face.
If ripping through the desert on a dirtbike or UTV is more up your alley, these three campgrounds in Rabbit Valley are the place to go. Between the three, there are plenty of spots to set up camp, even on the weekend. From the campgrounds, you can ride dozens of trails that zig-zag back and forth over the beautiful landscape. They are interconnected, allowing you to create endless combinations that will keep you riding for hours. You’ll run out of gas before you get tired of this heart-pounding trail network.
Retreat to higher elevation and escape the heat at Mud Springs Campground on Pinon Mesa. Mud Springs is nestled among an Aspen grove, making it a shady place to cool off during the summer. Close to plenty of hiking trails and fishing holes, Mud Springs also has stunning views looking over Glade Park and Grand Junction below. This spot is exceptionally beautiful in the early fall when the leaves are changing, and scenic area glistens with Aspens glowing in the sunlight.
This one is for the climbers. While Big Dominguez Campground is located in the Dominguez Escalante National Conservation Area, one of the easiest ways to get to this campground is from Unaweep Canyon. Unaweep is a narrow canyon made up of steep granite cliffs that climb thousands of feet above the canyon floor and is the only one of its kind. Nowhere else in the world is there a canyon with two streams that flow in opposite directions from either end. Some of the best granite climbing outside of Yosemite Valley can be found right here in Unaweep Canyon. Mighty Mouse and Sunday wall are local favorites, and each has dozens of routes available. Or, if you're more into bouldering, visit the Bone Park, where hundreds of problems can be found.
Remember that BLM camping is primitive. These sites have restrooms but do not have running water or other facilities. Make sure you have plenty of water, at least one liter per person, per day. These public lands are yours to enjoy, but also yours to protect. Make sure to pack out what you pack in and leave campsites clean so others can enjoy them too. Remember, Colorado is the first state to officially partner with Leave No Trace, and wants to make sure everyone is Colo-ready! Find out how to Leave No Trace.
Find out more about camping in Grand Junction on page 29 of the Grand Junction Visitor Guide!