Found along Colorado’s Western Slope, Grand Junction offers everything for your Colorado adventures. With the Colorado River, Grand Mesa, the Little Book Cliffs, and the Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction is a haven for the outdoor enthusiast.
But for those looking to take it easy, Grand Junction is also home to many wineries and its historic and vibrant downtown. Discover your favorite Colorado adventures with these things to do in Grand Junction.
Year-round things to do
No matter what time of year, Grand Junction has plenty to offer adventure seekers and leisurely travelers alike. From wine tasting to hiking atop a mesa, enjoy these year-round activities in Grand Junction.
Visit the Grand Mesa
Located east of the Grand Junction lies the Grand Mesa, the largest flattop mountain not just in the United States, but in the entire world. From afar it may not look like a mountain at all with elevations ranging from 6,000 feet up to 11,000 feet.
The mesa covers an area spanning 500 square miles, with its western edge starting 40 miles west of the city. Today much of the mesa is protected by the Grand Mesa National Forest.
The Grand Mesa can be explored throughout the entire year. Summer months offer hiking opportunities throughout the Grand Mesa National Forest and exploring some of the over 300 lakes that dot the landscape. The Grand Mesa Scenic Byway winds through the mesa for 63 miles and offer scenic views all while exploring the world’s largest mesa.
During these warmer months, be sure to take Land End’s Road to see Land’s End Overlook which features the rim of the mesa and a dramatic cliff face. Warmer weather is also the ideal time to explore the hiking and mountain biking trails throughout the mesa. Popular routes include the Crag Crest National Recreation Trail, Lost Lake Trail, or the Mesa Lakes Trail.
Winter in the Grand Mesa is also full of outdoor activities. The mesa boasts over 30 miles of cross-country skiing trails that are also accessible for snowshoeing. Grand Mesa is also a popular destination for snowmobiling, which includes a 120-mile trail known as the Sunlight to Powderhorn Trail.
Walk the Historic Downtown
Throughout the year visitors can explore the historic downtown district of Grand Junction. The town itself is known for being an outdoor paradise, but it is also home to a thriving art scene and historic district. Grand Junction was one of the first cities in the entire country to intentionally create a pedestrian-friendly downtown region.
Over time this has given way to a variety of art galleries and art sculptures, boutiques, local restaurants, breweries, and distilleries. During the summer months, the city offers a bustling Farmer’s Market and outdoor events like the Downtown Music Fest.
Museum of the West
While strolling the downtown district, be sure to stop by the iconic Museum of the West. This museum showcases over 1,000 years of history throughout western Colorado. Take a walk-through time as you “ride” in an old stagecoach and discover various artifacts of the region. The museum showcases art from Ute and Fremont rock as well as items that help paint a picture of what the wild west of Colorado used to be like.
Go wine tasting
Grand Junction is located in the heart of Colorado’s wine country. While the first vineyard in the state was planted back in 1982 near the city of Palisade, today Grand Junction has grown into one of the top thriving wine regions in the industry.
The dozens of wineries and tasting rooms can be visited throughout the entire year, though they are most popular during the summer and fall months. Enjoy the views of Grand Junction while sipping on some of the best wines that Colorado has to offer.
Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range
A few miles northeast of the city lies the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range. The protected land spans 36,000 acres and has been the home to wild horses for hundreds of years. Today, visitors can wind through canyons and plateaus to see over 100 wild horses via hiking and horseback riding throughout the year.
The reserve is one of only three wild horse reserves in the entire country, making it a popular destination for those who admire horses. For the best chance at seeing some of the wild horses, visitors are encouraged to come in the early morning or during the early evening.
Colorado River/James M. Robb State Park
The James M. Robb State Park once called the Colorado River State Park, has five sections of land located throughout different regions of the city. The portion of the park is spread out across 35 miles along the Colorado River, from Island Acres to the Fruita section. Today the divisions of the park are connected by the Colorado Riverfront Trail, used for walking, running, and biking throughout the year.
Both the Island Acres and Fruita sections feature dozens of campgrounds that can be reserved online. The middle three sections are nestled throughout the city and are known for their fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing.
Colorado National Monument
The Colorado National Monument may not be as well-known as other parks in the region, but don’t let that stop you from adding it to your list. The monument covers over 20,000 acres with its iconic red rock spires amongst the rugged valley and steep cliffs. One of the most iconic ways to view the monument is via the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive.
Along the road, visitors will pass 19 viewpoints, the Saddlehorn campground, as well as over a dozen hiking trails. Saddlehorn campground has 80 sites, making it the primary campsite in the monument.
Popular hiking trails within the monument include Serpents Trail, Canyon Rim Trail, and Devils Kitchen Trail. While a majority of the trails take hikers out to cliffs for further viewpoints, longer routes, such as the Monument Canyon Trail, descend into the canyon for a different perspective of the surrounding landscape.
The sandstone of the Colorado National Monument attracts hundreds of climbers each year. Much of the climbing routes are trad climbs, similar to those of eastern Utah. Summers within the monument can be quite hot so the best time to climb is from fall to late spring. Climbing in the winter is permitted though the wet sandstone can increase the level of danger.
Grand Junction Motor Speedway
Located just north of Highway 70 lies the Grand Junction Motor Speedway. The speedway is home to one of the most pristine go-kart facilities in the state, as well as the entire country. The 0.9-mile technical track is accessible throughout the year and is home to a variety of events throughout the year. Besides races, the speedway also offers kart rentals to explore the track for yourself.
Summer things to do
Summers in Grand Junction can be hot. So, why not cool off with an early morning hike or splashing through the rapids on the Colorado River. Either way, find your adventure with these summer activities in Grand Junction.
Between the Colorado National Monument and the Grand Mesa National Forest, hiking trails surround the city of Grand Junction. For easier trails, visitors should check out Devil’s Kitchen, or the Canyon Rim and Window Rock trail. Both routes lie within the Colorado National Monument with a round trip of just 1.5 miles.
For those looking for a bit of a challenge, Mount Garfield and Crag Crest National Recreation Trail are sure to deliver. Mount Garfield is the highest point of the Book Cliffs. The four-mile out and back trail gains an impressive 2,000 feet of vertical gain in just under two miles. The Crag Crest National Recreation Trail is just over 10 miles long and takes hikers through some of the more remote sections of the Grand Mesa National Forest.
Located at the southeastern end of the Colorado National Monument lies the Lunch Loop Trail network. While the network of trails range has routes for all skill levels, a large majority of them are rated as difficult and very difficult. Most of the trails are open to bikers, hikers, and trail runners. However, two trails, “Pucker Up” and “Free Lunch” are designated for downhill mountain biking only.
Within an hour of the city also lies Powderhorn Mountain resort, which transforms into a mountain biking mecca during the summer months. The mountain currently has nearly eight miles of existing trails along with technical jumps and bike rentals. Summer season passes can be purchased for unlimited access to the trail network.
Rafting the Colorado River
Cool off this summer with a rafting adventure down the Colorado River. The Westwater Canyon section is the most popular place for whitewater rafting near Grand Junction.
Take in the scenes of red-colored cliffs soaring above you with wildlife encounters along the way for an unforgettable adventure. Book an expert guide through Rimrock Adventures, Centennial Canoe, or Palisade River Trips for your whitewater adventures.
Fishing near Grand Junction
With epic rivers and alpine lakes that surround Grand Junction, fishing is a popular activity for locals and tourists alike. The Colorado River is a great place to start, plus the connected lakes at the James M. Robb State Park. Or head for higher ground at one of the many alpine lakes in Grand Mesa.
Either way, you’re sure to catch a fish or two! Be sure to stop in at the Western Anglers shop in town for all your fishing needs!
Winter things to do
Winters are a bit milder along the Western Slope but still offer some of the same fun activities such as downhill skiing and nordic skiing. Enjoy the beauty of the season with these snowy activities in Grand Junction.
Skiing at Powderhorn Resort
Powderhorn Mountain Resort lies along the north rim of the Grand Mesa. The mountain offers over 1,600 acres of skiable terrain and over 1,600 feet of vertical drop. Though smaller than other resorts in the state, Powderhorn receives an average of 250 inches of annual snowfall.
The mountain features terrain for all skill levels including one double black diamond run. Powderhorn is serviced by four separate ski lifts including one surface lift near the base of the mountain amongst the beginner terrain.
Besides downhill skiing, Grand Junction is also home to cross-country skiing throughout Grand Mesa. Thanks to the Grand Mesa Nordic Council, there are over 50 kilometers of maintained and groomed trails throughout the Grand Mesa.
The network of trails is well-marked for classic cross-country skiing as well as some ski touring routes. Cross-country skiing can also be found along the backside of the Powderhorn Ski Resort via the West Bench Trail.
Find your adventure along Colorado’s Western Slope with these things to do in Grand Junction.