Although winter in Colorado is a magical time, it can also hinder some of your favorite activities. Sometimes the snow is too deep for hiking, cold temperatures and blistering winter winds can make snowshoeing or cross country skiing a chore, and some of the more well-known trails are often busy, making finding a parking spot difficult. Colorado National Monument offers a reprieve from the hardships of winter adventures, and just might have you reconsidering what your favorite Colorado season actually is.
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Colorado National Monument is only six miles from Downtown Grand Junction, making it accessible to the conveniences you expect, including farm-to-table restaurants, trendy boutiques, and art galleries showcasing local talent. The award-winning Downtown showcases over 100 high-end outdoor sculptures woven through downtown, making your stroll along the wide sidewalks even more entertaining. After an afternoon spent exploring, stop by Rockslide Restaurant and Brewery for a nourishing bite to eat complemented by a local brew.
Since the Monument rarely gets significant snowfall, Rim Rock Drive is almost always open, barring the occasional exception. Throughout the winter season, you can enjoy a scenic drive along all 23 miles of the stunning road, offering easy access to look-outs perfect for photos and quick hikes.
Even though the Colorado National Monument is so close to Downtown, it is never crowded. No matter when you go, it's possible to find a parking spot at your favorite trails, like No Thoroughfare Canyon, Liberty Cap, or Ute Canyon. Not only is parking readily available, but the lots are only feet from the trailhead. You won't have to walk far before you're on the trail, enjoying your hike and unplugging from distractions.
Grand Junction is considered high desert sitting at 4583 feet, which provides for a temperate year-round climate. Trails at the Monument stay mostly clear and hikable throughout the winter. Mornings can be on the colder side, but temperatures warm up in the afternoon with blue skies providing the backdrop for breathtaking views. Usually, all you'll need is your favorite pair of hiking boots and a light jacket. And the best part? You can escape the winter wind, parts of Colorado are known for. Enjoy calm and beautiful days exploring the 20,500 acres of the Monument, all while inhaling crisp mountain air which gives you a sense of cleansing your soul.
While the Monument doesn’t get a whole lot of snow, it does receive enough to transform the way it looks compared to other seasons. The red sandstone cliffs take on an entirely new feel under a fresh dusting of snow or frost. Covered in a blanket of white or crystallized dew, bits of red emerge to create a surreal desert experience. It is truly something you have to experience.
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The Monument might stay mild all year long, but those looking for heart-pounding winter recreation don't have to look far. You'll find plenty of snow sports in the Grand Junction area. Check out the Grand Mesa, the world's largest flat-top mountain, for all your snow activities including cross country & downhill skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and fat biking. The Grand Mesa is just 45 minutes east of Grand Junction.
You can also take advantage of Grand Junction’s affordable lodging rates. Use those savings to stay longer and make more memories you’ll cherish forever. And with the Grand Junction Regional Airport being the third largest airport in Colorado, you can fly in and save yourself a few hours of driving. We’ll see you soon!
Discover more about Grand Junction's 1.5 million acres of public lands on page 26 of the Grand Junction Visitor Guide.