From the toothy dinosaurs of the Jurassic era to the classic cars of the 1950s, Grand Junction’s excellent museums will let you explore the past while spending time with friends and family in the present.
Museum of the West
Looking for a taste of the Wild West? You’ll find it at the Museum of the West, where you can take an interactive ride on a stagecoach, visit the Pastime Saloon and Park Opera House, and inspect firearms used by real outlaws and gunslingers. Look back at the art and artifacts of the mysterious Fremont Indian culture, or tour a full-scale model of a uranium mine. If you have little ones in tow, they’ll love climbing aboard a restored LaFrance fire truck from the 1920s to crank the siren.
Western Colorado Botanical Gardens
Engage your inner botanist at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens as you stroll through outdoor herb and rose gardens, a Children’s Secret Garden, and a xeric garden of native plants, cacti, and succulents. Inside the tropical greenhouse you’ll find hundreds of exotic plants from across the globe, including an orchid display and fishponds. Don’t leave without a visit to the Butterfly House, where you may get to witness a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.
Dinosaur Journey Museum
When you’re in Grand Junction, you’re in dino country. The area is part of the “Dinosaur Diamond,” where paleontologists have been unearthing dinosaur fossils since the early 1900s, including Stegosaurus and Brontosaurus bones! At the Dinosaur Journey Museum, you’ll see these fossils and more, including one of the largest Triceratops skulls ever found. Watch the robotic dinos come to life, or — if you’re brave enough — try out the earthquake simulator. Take a look inside a working paleontology laboratory, or accompany researchers on a real, daylong fossil dig.
Children’s Nature Center
Got an animal lover in your group? Then this is the place for you. The Children’s Nature Center in the Mesa Mall will let you get up close and personal with live animals like parrots, tortoises, frogs, lizards, fish, spiders, and snakes — safely. Find Nemo the clown fish in his underwater home, or pet a stingray in the Shoreline Touch Pool. Friendly and knowledgeable volunteers are there to answer your questions and introduce you to your favorite animals.
Western Colorado Center for the Arts
Western Colorado’s creative tradition spans centuries, from the area’s first Native American craftspeople to the contemporary living artists of today. The Western Colorado Center for the Arts’ mission is to both preserve and perpetuate this tradition through its collection of nearly 300 works of art and its instructional and educational programs, including studio arts classes, workshops, and lectures. The center also hosts rotating art exhibits showcasing both national and local artists, so there’s always something new to see.
Gateway Canyons Automobile Museum
Cruise through history with a visit to the Gateway Canyons Colorado Automobile Museum. You’ll learn about the history of the auto industry, as well as the ways in which this now-ubiquitous form of transportation helped shape American society, from the creation of the suburbs to the implementation of daylight saving time. Seven galleries highlight cars from every age, including a 1906 Cadillac Model H Coupe, luxury convertibles from the 1930s, flashy muscle cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s, and the authentic NASCAR #48 Chevrolet driven by legend Jimmie Johnson. The centerpiece of the collection is a 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 Concept Car, purchased at auction for $3.24 million!
John McConnell Math & Science Center
Yes, vacation and education can mix. Let us prove it at the John McConnell Math & Science Center. The hands-on exhibits will keep your family entertained for hours, whether you’re learning how a solar panel converts sunlight into energy, watching the inner workings of a live honey bee hive, testing out a robotic arm, or spying on critters through our underwater bug-cam. Check the website calendar for special events, like our full- and half-day Science Fun Days.