Less than 10 minutes from Downtown Grand Junction, you can camp in an area that offers dramatic sunrises, breathtaking sunsets and out-of-this-world stargazing – even during the winter season. Winter camping in Colorado National Monument boasts all the things that make it great for summer camping – no crowds, easy access to your Grand Junction base camp, stunning Grand Canyon-like views, plus a few other benefits that might surprise you. These include:
- Relatively warm daytime temperatures
- Very little snow
- Choice of campsite
- Hiking and sightseeing are easily accessible unlike other snow-covered Colorado hiking areas
A hidden gem in the National Park System, Colorado National Monument offers guests over 20,500 acres of majestic canyons, sandstone spires and magnificent monoliths to explore. At night, the desert sky sprawls vast, clear and full of stars, untouched by light pollution and rarely obscured by clouds.
Comfortable temps for winter camping
With average February temperatures in the high 40’s and March in the high 50’s (Fahrenheit) in Grand Junction, winter camping is rather comfortable. The high desert weather usually delivers only small amounts of snow, which is great news for winter campers who don’t want to spend time post-holing through deep snow and having to dig out a spot for a campsite.
This leaves you free to enjoy the incredible hiking, sunrises, sunsets and stargazing in Colorado National Monument. Check out the sand dunes at Liberty Cap Trail or some of these other breathtaking winter hiking spots near Grand Junction. Alternatively, if you’re interested in a scenic drive in Colorado National Monument, you’ll love the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive! It’s like hiking in your car. Or plan to just stay around your campsite and watch for wildlife like mule deer, desert bighorns and smaller mammals such as foxes, desert cottontails, and squirrels.
With canyons as deep as 500 feet and stunning spires as high as 450 feet, you’ll find it difficult sleeping in, so brew some coffee and get an early start to your day. The color of the canyons during sunrise are strikingly different at sunset, so dawn and dusk will reward you with unique perspectives.
However, Colorado National Monument isn’t the only incredible stargazing area near Grand Junction. Read about other nearby stargazing locations.
Campsites in Colorado National Monument
For easily accessible winter campsites, head to Saddlehorn Campground in Colorado National Monument, which consists of three loops or campgrounds (A, B, and C). The A-loop is available for camping year-round, first-come first-served. The restroom facility for the A-loop is heated during the winter months with flushable toilets and running water, so you can brush your teeth, change, and use the restroom - all while staying warm. There is even an electric air hand dryer and mirrors! Trail access couldn’t be easier, it is accessible right from your campsite. You can have your pup with you camping, but they must be on a leash. Dogs are not allowed on the trails.
Backcountry camping is available during winter but does require a free permit from the Colorado National Monument Visitor Center. Their helpful staff can also advise you on areas that are open for winter camping and direct you to spots that suit your level of adventure.
Tips for stargazing in Colorado National Monument
Now that you have escaped light pollution, here are some expert stargazing tips:
- Find a high spot with a clear vantage point to the horizon. Book Cliffs View, from the rim of the canyon, is just a short walk from Saddlehorn Campground.
- Check the weather forecast – both to avoid cloudy nights and to ensure you have the right clothing.
- Binoculars can be as good – or better – than a telescope for new stargazers.
- Avoid looking at anything with lights while you’re stargazing. This includes flashlights, electronic screens and a digital watch.
There are a variety of dining options in Grand Junction, only minutes from your campsite, so treat yourself while you are roughing it. If you prefer lodging with all the comforts of home, check out hotel options in Grand Junction.