If your idea of a good time involves ripping downhill through alpine forests, then the Palisade Plunge is for you! The Plunge, is one of the longest downhill-only trails in the country. This brand-new trail will run from the top of the Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-top mountain, for 32 miles with a 6,000-foot descent arriving at the Colorado River on the valley floor. Mix it up by jumping on the Powderhorn Connector to ride into Powderhorn Mountain (ski) Resort and shred the downhill trails, while taking advantage of easy lift access to keep the good times rolling.
Rooted in History
The route connects a variety of trails on top of the Grand Mesa, which are steeped in history. John Otto explored on the Grand Mesa and forged new paths more than a century ago. Otto is most known as the local explorer who was Colorado National Monument's first custodian, and was the main advocate for getting the Monument recognized as part of the National Park System.
Bottom Half Now Open
The bottom half of the Plunge (Phase 1) is open to ride, with the top half (Phase 2) expected to open late July (Phase 2 tops out at 10,719 feet). Phase 1 is 17 miles of striking beauty along the west side of the Grand Mesa. Phase 1 begins on Lands End Road, about three miles below the Lands End Observatory. The trail provides both lush forest and classic desert canyons with some extreme exposure areas and cliffs so be aware. The trail is a non-motorized trail, so feel free to hike it.
The single-track trail winds through alpine forests and high desert, some of which has long been unused for hundreds of years, except by 4th generation ranchers and their cattle. This is considered an expert ride, so if you are intermediate, plan to get off your bike and walk while taking in the views.
Park at the U.S. Forest Service Wild Rose recreation site, which can be accessed from the bottom of Lands End Road at U.S. Hwy 50. There is a two-mile uphill ride, with a 700 foot elevation, on Lands End Road to the Plunge Trail. Due to limited parking, you may want your group to consider a shuttle service with Grand Junction Adventures.
Plan ahead and bring extra water and plenty of food, appropriate clothing and bike repair supplies are recommended. No water is available at the trailhead or on the trail. You will experience a variety of weather, from cool temperatures towards the top to desert-like heat at the bottom. Once you begin, there are not any good “bail out” trails, you’ll have to continue down the trail so know your abilities.
Grand Junction is your perfect basecamp for your outdoor adventures. With 38 affordable hotels (average rate is under $125, even during events and holidays), RV & camping parks, and over 200 restaurants – you have plenty of options. You can get here via plane, train, or automobile as well! Flights from the Grand Junction Regional Airport are convenient and affordable.