Grand Junction's fall season boasts some of the best leaf-peeping in the state. Not only is Grand Junction's fall color season longer due to its temperate climate, it also allows for a more diverse way of immersing yourself in the vibrant signs of autumn. There is a myriad of activities in the fall foliage that you can enjoy. From the spectacular Colorado National Monument to the Colorado Riverfront Trail and the majestic Grand Mesa. Here are four ways to experience fall colors in the Grand Junction area.
1. Explore the Grand Mesa
Among Grand Junction's spectacular red cliffs and winding canyons, visitors can see the towering 11,000-foot Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-top mountain, which is bursting with more than 300 lakes. The Grand Mesa is a natural wonder as well as a year-round provider of recreation and incredible scenery. It offers some of the most fabulous fall foliage anywhere in Colorado. Experience vibrant scrub oak contrasting ever-so perfectly with the shimmering gold aspens while you traverse the Grand Mesa National Scenic and Historic Byway.
As you travel through the four major ecological zones on the 6,000 ft. climb, a number of pullouts along the way provide you an opportunity to observe the dramatic contrasts in the landscape. The 350,000 acres Mesa is graced with large forests of aspens set against deep green hue of pines, firs and spruce - further adding to the kaleidoscope of color. For hiking enthusiasts, Crag Crest Trail offers the perfect high alpine hike atop the spine of the Grand Mesa, where you can see for miles. Hikers also enjoy wide-open views of the refreshing lakes along the way.
2. Bike or drive through the Colorado National Monument:
Located just six miles from Downtown Grand Junction, the Colorado National Monument offers breathtaking views of the red-rock canyons and spires. The National Park Service (NPS) coins it as “The Heart of the World,” and many who visit often ask why it’s not a national park. At 7,000 feet, the Monument offers jaw-dropping views of towering red rock spires, canyons, and monoliths.
Drive or bike across the National Monument’s Rim Rock Drive to enjoy scenic overlooks of brilliantly colored fall foliage in shades of red, orange, and yellow set against 20,000 acres of 1.7-billion-year old rock of sandstone and granite-gneiss-schist rock formations rising above the Colorado River. Numerous hiking trails like Serpents Trail are accessible directly from Rim Rock Drive. Unlike many NPS sites in the country, Colorado National Monument offers “trails less traveled,” so you will find the solitude you desire.
3. Stroll along the Colorado River
Accessible from multiple points in town, the Colorado Riverfront Trail is a lovely stroll along the famous Colorado River. This 30-mile flat hosts habitat for more than 200 species of birds, so bring your camera! Walk or bike through the Audubon Section of the Colorado Riverfront Trail for perfect viewing of the colorful landscape. The Audubon section is 1.4 miles of the trail that takes you alongside the Colorado River beneath a canopy of trees. It is also a tranquil setting for bird watching and spotting many other species of wildlife along the Colorado River.
4. Taste and sip your way through Grand Junction
The Grand Junction area is kown for being home to a plethora of fruit stands, vineyards, orchards and farms. Foodies and wine enthusiasts can experience wine tasting at any of the wineries located throughout Grand Junction any time of year, but fall is the opportunity to capture harvest photos - making it extra special. The Fruit and Wine Byway is an idyllic way to take in all the area has to offer and can be driven or biked.
The byway cruises alongside the scenic Colorado River, offering unparalleled views of the Grand Mesa and the Grand Junction area. If you want to stay at the base of the Colorado National Monument and enjoy breathtaking views, be sure to check out Two Rivers Winery & Chateau. As you approach the chateau, you will feel like you were transported to a villa in France.
For more information on Grand Junction’s “4 Seasons of Outdoor Pursuits,” check out the Official Visitor Guide here.