The landscape is dramatically different from anywhere else in Colorado – bordered on the east by Grand Mesa, the largest flat-topped mountain in the world, and on the west by the red rock canyons of Colorado National Monument. The mighty Colorado River joins the Gunnison River, in the center of the valley, hence the name Grand Junction. This region is part of the Grand Circle, which has the highest concentration of National Parks in America as well as on the most popular route of AMTRAK in the U.S.
Colorado National Monument
Ranked as fourth on National Geographic’s list of the Top Underappreciated Parks, the red rock canyons, buttes, spires and sandstone formations of Colorado National Monument are often referred to as a “Mini-Grand Canyon.” Many of the 11 canyons can be easily seen from Rim Rock Drive, a 37-kilometer national historic drive, located just a few minutes from I-70. Hiking Monument Tail to see Independence Monument is a “must see” and biking the iconic Tour of the Moon route on Rim Rock Drive is one of the more unique riding experiences in Colorado.
McInnins Canyons National Conservation Area includes 49,938 hectares of rugged sandstone canyons, natural arches, spires and alcoves carved into the Colorado Plateau – complemented by a peaceful 40 kilometer stretch of the Colorado River. The famous Kokopelli Trail, extending from the Grand Junction area to Moab, affords world renowned mountain biking opportunities, in addition to the myriad of hiking, horseback riding, and off-highway vehicle opportunities.
Grand Mesa, the largest flat-topped mountain in the world, rises more than a kilometer from the valley floor and sits on the eastern edge of the Grand Junction area. With views stretching almost 160 kilometers on a clear day and more than 300 stream-fed alpine lakes, Grand Mesa affords amazing opportunities for boating, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding and kayaking. This lush alpine environment offers hundreds of kilometers of hiking, biking and off-road trails, as well as alpine and cross-country skiing. The Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range, located just eight miles northeast of Grand Junction, is one of only three ranges in the United States designated to protect and manage wild horses on public lands. Approximately 80 -130 wild horses roam the 14,568 hectares of canyons. Horseback rides to see the wild horses can be arranged, affording a unique opportunity to see these magnificent animals.
Grand Junction is one of the top mountain biking destinations in Colorado. For lovers of single-track, you can take a leisurely ride or choose an adrenalin-filled epic adventure. One of the most famous rides is the Tabeguache trailhead, also knowns as Lunch Loops. Right outside of town, the trails were named by locals that could bust out of work and hit the convenient trail during lunch. Unique River & Lake Adventures: Jet Boat Colorado, the only jet boat in the state, takes guests on either a mild or wild adventure down the Colorado River! Another unique water sport in the Grand Junction area is offered at Imondi Wake Zone, set to open in summer 2018. Dinosaur Museum, Trails, and Digs: For a Colorado Jurassic Journey, visit Dinosaur Journey Museum to see real dinosaur bones being studied in the paleontology lab or experience a one, three or five-day Dinosaur Expedition in the Mygatt Moore Quarry. Take a hike on any of the three dinosaur trails in the Grand Junction area where 140 million-year-old dinosaur bones can still be found in their natural state in the wild. The Trail Through Time, Riggs Hill, and Dinosaur Hill all have well-maintained trails where people can enjoy a relatively easy 1.6 to 2.4-kilometer hike.
Agri-tourism in Action
Grand Junction is a perfect base camp for an agri-tourism adventure. Dig in and get your hands dirty at Sage Creations Organic Lavender Farm. Not only does the farm offer a “u-pick” experience, but the farmers also educate guests on the ins and outs of growing their lavender. Several orchards also offer pick-your-own experiences. Nothing beats biting into a juicy peach picked straight off the tree! For farm animal lovers, check out SunCrest Orchard Alpacas, where guests can get up close and personal with the animals, as well as learn about the process of transforming their wool into fiber and yarn at the on-site mill which processes alpaca wool from countries as far away as China.
Colorado’s Wine Country
One of the Top 10 Wine Getaways of 2018 by Wine Enthusiast. The Grand Junction area boasts 23 wineries with tasting rooms, where you can still meet the owners and winemakers while drinking award-winning wine. The Colorado Mountain Winefest was voted the Best Wine Festival in the nation by USA Today. Six craft breweries make their home in the Grand Junction area. Peach Street Distillery develops local grains and fruits of the area into extraordinary spirits and produces one of the Top Ten Best Bourbons in the U.S. according to New York’s Time Out.