The Grand Junction area is a cycling hotspot. Home of the Colorado Mesa University NCAA-II National Champion cycling team, serious cyclists can test their mettle on two of Colorado’s most difficult alpine climbs, while casual riders spin out the miles on the Colorado Riverfront trail. Explore the vineyards and orchards of East Orchard Mesa and Palisade or the rolling farmlands north toward Fruita. Here are a few top road biking routes and some helpful tips:
Tour of the Moon
The marquee cycling route is Rim Rock Drive over the Colorado National Monument. Known as the Tour of the Moon, it’s a bucket list destination for cyclists from all over the world. Built during the Depression, Rim Rock Drive is 23 miles long and connects the east and west entrances of the Colorado National Monument. The total vertical gain is 2,300 feet, and no matter which ascent you choose you’ll start with a climb and end with a fast, curving descent. In between, fill your senses with red rock vistas, wildflowers and the echoing call of canyon wrens. You may even spot desert bighorn sheep.
- The climb is shorter, but steeper, going east to west.
- Parking is available at both entrances. Make a 33-mile loop by riding over the Monument and returning to your car via roads along the park’s lower boundary.
- Refill your water bottles at the Visitor’s Center.
- The National Park Service charges all visitors a fee for all guests, including those on bikes.
- All cyclists must have front and back lights and ride single file.
The Rocky Mountain Cycling Club ranks Highway 65 over Grand Mesa as the 2nd (north to south) and 3rd hardest (south to north) climbs in the state. Only the climb up Mount Evans is rated more difficult. A national scenic byway, the route up Plateau Canyon takes riders from carved sandstone to stands of aspen, passing the town of Mesa and Powderhorn Mountain Resort along the way.
- For a longer ride, park just off of I-70, at exit 49, on Highway 330. Or, start at the community center in Mesa, just a few miles past the junction with Highway 65.
- Limited food and drink are available in Mesa and at Mesa Lakes Resort, so plan to pack provisions.
- Bring a camera, this is some of the most striking scenery in the state.
The Colorado Riverfront Trail
The Riverfront Trail is a 28-mile mostly paved trail that follows the Colorado River connecting Palisade, Grand Junction, Fruita, and three state parks. This wide, paved multi-use trail has connectors to other trails, attractions and rides.
- For the best views, ride west to Fruita from Junior Service League Park.
- For shade, explore the Audubon or Corn Lake sections.
- Leave the trail at the Botanical Gardens and ride into downtown Grand Junction for lunch and the Art on the Corner sculpture collection.
- Greet other cyclists. No matter where you ride in the Grand Junction area, people are friendly.
Other Grand Junction Area Rides
- Start in Palisade and follow the 24-mile Fruit and Wine Byway loop.
- Park at Canyon View Park and explore the farmlands between Fruita and Grand Junction.
- Burn your legs out climbing Little Park Road, the steepest ascent in the valley. Retrace your route down or connect onto Rim Rock Drive.
- Create your own ride. Whether you go south toward Kannah Creek or west toward Highline Lake, many Grand Valley roads are seldom busy and perfect for two-wheeled exploration.
Learn more about cycling in Grand Junction, plus all the other activities in the area by downloading or ordering our visitor guide.