Spring is fast approaching, so now is the time to plan for waterfalling season! It’s a short season, so don’t miss it. Cascading water has a way of relaxing us and seeps the stress away. Not to mention the fact that they are downright mesmerizing to watch.
Now, where in Grand Junction, which is known for its comfortably dry, temperate climate, can you go hunt down a waterfall? There are a few that are pretty spectacular, but you have to be quick! Spring is the best time to catch some sweet waterfall action here in the valley. Light rain combined with melting snow means a lot of water is flowing, but it won’t last long.
Photo courtesy of @kylebts
No Thoroughfare is perhaps one of the most iconic hikes within Colorado National Monument, and for good reason. A desert oasis, this sloping trail makes its way deep into the red rock canyon filled with lush vegetation that thrive on spring runoff. At about the 1-mile mark, you’ll come across a pool fed by a small 4-foot waterfall. While still pretty, this is merely a tease for what is ahead.
After following the winding stream bed another .7 miles, you’ll come to the first real waterfall. Here, water spills down a 100-foot cliff face leaving behind beautifully streaked stains on the rock surface. At the cool, shady base of the falls, large trees flourish - you won’t find trees of this magnitude anywhere else in the Monument.
While most people turn around here, there is a second waterfall another mile up for those who are willing to do a bit of trail finding. From this point, the trail is not maintained, so be prepared! We recommend using an app like Hiking Project or COTREX where you can see your real-time location along the trail.
Photo courtesy of @abovealpinephotography
Another classic Grand Valley waterfall lies in the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. The Big Dominguez Canyon trail is a 12-mile out-and-back trek, and the gentle terrain makes it a great destination for those looking for a relaxing hike. To reach the waterfall, you only need to hike in about two miles.
This waterfall hides in a bowl rock formation, and that allows water to collect in a small pool, making it an ideal place to stick your feet in and cool off on a warm spring day. It’s also not unusual to see climbers bouldering on the colorful granite surrounding the waterfall, so be sure to look up and out!
Photo courtesy of @chillin.in.the.country
For those looking for an easy and scenic family-friendly hike close to town, the Connected Lakes Section of the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park is perfect. There are several gentle trails that encase the three different lakes here. The Audubon Trail is a paved path that goes along the western edge of the park.
Along the Audubon Trail, a small waterfall fueled by water from the Gunnison River that has been diverted through the Redlands rushes down before flowing into the connected lakes and finally into the Colorado River. This waterfall is fueled by the Gunnison River that has been diverted to flow through the Redlands. Connected Lakes waterfall is a great excursion for younger children as it’s easy to get to and you don’t have to stray far from the car once you get there. Gentle falls, calm lakes, and the over 200 different species of birds provide the perfect hike that’s easy and entertaining for the little ones.
Another classic watering hole, popular with the locals, is in Glade Park. The Potholes are a series of deep pools connected by several waterfalls. They have long been a hotspot for a way to cool down during the summer. The potholes are big enough to jump in and can be an epic natural swimming hole during this season.
In the early spring, however, they can become a fierce torrent driven by heavy snowmelt from Pinon Mesa. During this time, the strong currents can make the Potholes dangerous to swim in, but absolutely stunning to observe. The wide-open desert landscape is contradicted by the steep and narrow channel of water, and the surrounding red rock formations add an extra element of otherworldliness. Be aware and be careful.
Up at the edge of the world’s largest flat top mountain hosting over 300 lakes, is the Land’s End Observatory. While the observatory is no longer in use, it’s easy to see what inspired the name. The land seems to end in an impressive and jagged drop-off. Equally impressive is the dirt road that snakes its way up the side of the Grand Mesa, offering expansive views that are perfect photo op stops.
On the second to last switchback, there is a natural spring that runs from deep within the ground. This is a popular spot for hikers, bikers, and backcountry campers to refuel their water supplies. Just above the spring is a stunning waterfall that cascades down several drops along the face of the cliff.
The dirt road closes in the winter due to snow and usually reopens in April or May, depending on the snowpack. While many of these waterfalls are best viewed during springtime, Land’s End Waterfall is a great one to visit all summer long. Since it’s fed by a natural spring, water flows over the edge throughout the warmer summer months as well.
Check out the Grand Junction Adventure Guide.