GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -Located in Colorado’s Wine Country, just a few hours west of Denver, Grand Junction sits amid one of the most beautiful outdoor playgrounds in the country. In a landscape dramatically different from anywhere else in Colorado, surrounded by rivers, canyons, mesas and mountains to explore, there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy, including rafting the Colorado River, hiking Colorado National Monument, mountain biking, and so much more. Below are five ideas for those looking to get off the beaten path, and experience a one-of-a-kind Grand Junction, Colorado adventure.
- Take a Wild Ride: Forget your standard trail ride. Rimrock Adventures offers a “Wild Horse Sanctuary Ride” in the Little Book Cliff’s Wild Horse Preserve which encompasses more than 30,000 acres of rugged canyons and plateaus, and is home to between 90 and 150 wild mustangs. It is one of only three ranges in the United States set aside specifically to protect wild and free roaming horses.
- Soak in the Colorado National Monument from 500 Feet in the Air: Rock climbing in Grand Junction makes for a great experience for novice or expert climbers. The red sandstone cliffs and towers that rise from the canyon floors in Colorado National Monument rival world-famous climbs. Independence Monument is a 500-foot tower rising from the canyon floor. It is rated as one of the best beginner desert tower climbs anywhere. Each July 4, Independence Day, climbers scale the tower and raise an American flag. Expert climbers should take on the Sentinel Spire and choose the five-pitch Medicine Man route.
- Run Ruby Canyon: A 25-mile canyon along the mighty Colorado River, accessible only by water or by rail, Ruby Canyon provides dramatic canyon vistas that characterize the area, and is home to many desert creatures and unique wildlife. This tranquil stretch of river is perfect for rafting and inflatable kayaking. The Bureau of Land Management recently changed camping regulations in the area allowing rafting outfitters the opportunity to provide multi-day trips along this classic route. Adventure Bound USA River Expeditions offers a two-day guided rafting or kayaking adventure that includes interpretive guide services, meals, camping equipment and more.
- Ride the Singletrack of Palisade Rim: A true gem for mountain bike enthusiasts, Palisade Rim near Grand Junction is often compared to Moab’s Porcupine Rim, but offers more singletrack and far fewer crowds. The trail is located in the Little Book Cliffs and offers some outstanding views of the Grand Junction area from a vantage point more than 1,000 feet above the valley floor. Plans are currently underway to expand the trail so that bikers can ride directly to and from Palisade.
- Explore the Towering Unaweep Canyon. Hike, scramble, climb, wade, swim and rappel through the narrows and slots of Unaweep Canyon near Grand Junction on a red rock canyoneering experience with Colorado Alpine & Desert Adventures. Guests will marvel at the sculpted, pocketed, glowing walls and discover pools of water and surprising hidden communities of life as they gaze up at a thin ribbon of sky between towering canyon walls. Trips are matched to adventurer’s time frame, technical ability and preferences.
About Grand Junction (www.visitgrandjunction.com). Grand Junction is Colorado’s Wine Country featuring 22 wineries with year-round tasting rooms, and boasts more than 275 days of sunshine annually which helps produce much of the state’s peach and fruit crop. It is the largest city in Western Colorado, located near the Colorado River between Salt Lake City and Denver on Interstate 70. At an altitude of 4,586 feet, warm summers and moderate spring, fall and winter seasons allow for year-round golf, hiking and world-renown biking. Among Grand Junction's spectacular red cliffs and winding canyons are the 11,000-foot Grand Mesa, the world's largest flat-topped mountain, the 7,500-foot Book Cliffs including the Wild Horse Area, and the 7,000-foot Colorado National Monument. Other attractions include three national scenic byways, rafting, hunting, fishing, extensive public art displays, museums, and a vibrant downtown. Grand Junction lies in the heart of the Colorado-Utah Dinosaur Diamond and the Grand Circle.