Forming high in the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado River weaves its way through the canyon to Grand Junction where it converges with the Gunnison River, before going to the Gulf of California. After the mighty river exits Debeque Canyon from the east, it ebbs and flows west along the southern edge of the Grand Junction area, passing boat launches and riverside ponds, before dropping into a series of deep canyons. The Colorado River is popular for tubing, rafting kayaking, canoeing, and standup paddle boarding during the spring, summer and fall seasons.
JAMES M. ROBB-COLORADO RIVER STATE PARK
A good place to start is the James M. Robb-Colorado River State Park—a 15-minute drive from Downtown Grand Junction. With easy access to the river and plenty of opportunities for fishing, hiking, camping, and picnicking, it’s a wonderful park to relax and unplug in. There are multiple sections of the state park sprawling across the Grand Junction area. The Corn Lake section is the best spot to go fishing and there are two wheelchair-accessible fishing piers. With healthy populations of largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and channel catfish – you’ll easily be catching fish. Colorado Parks and Wildlife also stocks the lake with thousands of rainbow trout each year.
Connected Lakes is another section of the park, which is made up of four lakes, and situated on the southern edge of the Colorado River. You’ll find water enthusiasts enjoying standup paddle boarding, fishing, and for those wanting dry land - beautiful walking trails. It is also an excellent place to go bird watching.
If you are looking for a place to camp, Canyon View RV Resort offers tent sites and full-hook up RV sites.
HIGHLINE LAKE STATE PARK
Located on the outskirts of Grand Junction, Highline Lake State Park is another popular getaway for water lovers. This 160-acre lake boasts water that reaches 80 degrees by August, so you’ll be comfortably cool while recreating. The lake’s north end is calmer, perfect for a relaxing canoe float. The smaller Mack Mesa Lake is a serene spot for anglers either hand-propelled or with motors. Keep an eye out for waterfowl, including pelicans, snowy egrets, Canada geese, and great blue herons. In the spring, fishermen have to compete with bald eagles who torpedo toward the thousands of trout that have been stocked in the two lakes. The park also offers a shady campground, plenty of hiking, and nearby mountain bike trails.
RiveRfront at las colonias park
Enjoy paddleboarding, kayaking, tubing, floating, or wading along the Colorado River. In the heart of Grand Junction, people of all ages are enjoying paddleboarding and kayaking at the new Butterfly Pond and RiverFront at Las Colonias Park. The 140-acre park is the latest development on the Colorado River along the Colorado RiverFront Trail. It has a diverse and rich history, as it is situated just upstream from the namesake of the community, the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers. Check out the new dog park with your furry friend!
Red Rock Canyons
The Colorado River is framed by Ruby, Horsethief, and Westwater Canyons as it gently flows into Utah. Swollen with snowmelt in May and June, the river sweeps through Ruby and Horsethief Canyons with long stretches of placid water punctuated by minor riffles and tamer rapids, perfect for kayaks, canoes, and rafts. The river’s 25-mile-long Ruby-Horsethief Canyon segment west of Fruita has lots of flatwater as well as an exciting class II rapid at Black Rocks. The gorgeous red rock shows off a smorgasbord of scenic views.
If you want to get your bearings on solid ground, take the 15.5-mile trek along the Rattlesnake Arches Loop, home to the second-highest concentration of natural arches outside of Utah. Many campsites are scattered along the river here too, making it a great overnighter.
Need to rent a paddleboard, duckie or tube? Gather everything you need from Grand Junction Adventures and hit the water. From calm lakes in state parks to rapids on the Colorado River, it’s easy to see why Grand Junction is a popular watering hole for residents and visitors. With plenty of opportunities to get wet, there’s no excuse why you shouldn’t start planning your next trip right now!
Always wear a lifejacket or other personal flotation device when participating in any water activity. Please check with your guide or outfitter for all proper safety precautions.