GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.—Fall and Winter will soon be approaching and the days are getting shorter, making the limited number of sun-filled hours even more precious. With a multitude of scenic vantage points that are accessible by hiking, driving or even snowshoeing, Grand Junction makes waking up early for the sunrise worth it. Of course, if you’re allergic to early mornings, the sunsets are just as brilliant and are available daily.
Four Best Places to Catch a Grand Junction Sunrise/Sunset: Fall/Winter Edition
For hikers, The Devils Canyon trail system, located in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, is perfect for sunrise or sunset viewing. To get there, head west on I-70 to the Fruita exit and drive south to the McInnis Canyons area. Park in the Devils Canyon parking lot and follow one of the many trails. Labeled D1 – 5, check out the D3 loop that winds up through the canyon; the cabin at the halfway point affords 360 degree views. Be sure to have your camera handy as the sun peeks out from the east or sets into the west.
For joggers, walkers or bikers, exploring the Riverfront Trail is a perfect opportunity for spectacular sunrises. An ongoing project that was started more than 25 years ago, the goal of the Riverfront Trail system is to provide an uninterrupted public trail system from Palisade to Fruita, which many sections have been completed. It’s easy to park near the trail and jump on where you like; the Blue Heron section runs along the Colorado River and is an excellent spot to catch the sun rising and setting over the water.
Colorado National Monument
If you are driving, drive to Colorado National Monument. Part of the National Park system, the Colorado National Monument is one of the most spectacular landscapes in the West consisting of a vast plateau and canyon panorama, punctuated by jutting monoliths. There are multiple turnouts along Rim Rock Drive with spectacular views to the east and west; marvel at the sun illuminating the sheer-walled, red rock canyons for an unparalleled photo opportunity. For sunrise, enter through the east entrance to the Monument to avoid driving with the sun in your eyes when it rises.
When the snow flies, be the first on the lift at Powderhorn Resort. Though the lifts don’t open until after the sun has already risen; the views of the valley and the Grand Mesa from the top of the resort are breathtaking in the early morning, with the sun glinting on the snow. For the early risers in your group, it’s possible to snowshoe or “skin” up on your skis before the lifts even open. For sunset views, the aptly named Sunset Grille & Bar is the perfect location for an after-skiing libation while watching the sun sink into the mountains.
About Grand Junction (www.visitgrandjunction.com)
Nestled near 11,000-foot Grand Mesa and the 7,500-foot Book Cliffs, Grand Junction is the largest city in western Colorado. At an altitude of 4,586 feet, warm summers and moderate spring, fall and winter seasons allow for year-round golf, hiking and biking. Boasting more than 275 days of sunshine annually, Grand Junction recently was named one of the eight sunniest cities in the United States by TourismReview.com. Among Grand Junction's spectacular red cliffs and winding canyons are the Grand Mesa, the world's largest flat-topped mountain, the Colorado National Monument, Bookcliff Wild Horse Area, two national scenic byways and five golf courses. Grand Junction lies in the heart of the Colorado-Utah Dinosaur Diamond. The area also is home to Colorado's wine country, with nearly 30 vineyards and wineries.