If you’re not from the area, you may not know much about Grand Junction, Colorado. The largest city between Denver and Salt Lake City, it’s a welcome respite and a hidden gem in Colorado’s high desert.
Well worth spending a long weekend exploring the Grand Valley (consisting of Grand Junction and the neighboring towns of Palisade and Fruita), here are a few ideas to make for a perfect weekend getaway.
Hike the Colorado National Monument
The Colorado National Monument frames the Grand Valley to the west, creating a spectacular view from most areas of town. Enter the park from the west side through the town of Fruita to get full views and drive along its Rim Rock Drive. While there, stop at the visitor’s center for ranger talks and to learn about the area’s unique geology and ranching history.
One of the best hikes is the Monument Canyon trail, which takes you through the monoliths at the base of the canyon. The entire hike, one way, is six miles, but you can do three miles into Independence Rock and turn around. The best place to start this hike is the lower trailhead off Colorado Highway 340. Check out the park’s map for all the trails.
Take a Wine Tour
The town of Palisade, nestled at the east end of the Grand Valley along the Colorado River, boasts more than 25 wineries. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but a wine tour will help you figure out what you like the best. These award-winning wineries offer a unique sampling of wines in addition to the standards including ice wines, meads, and ports. If you happen to visit in September, make plans to visit during the Colorado Mountain Winefest.
Play on the River
Grand Junction can thank the rivers that run through it for its namesake. The Colorado (formerly the Grand) and Gunnison Rivers join or create a “junction” here. That said, there’s plenty of river recreation here. It’s easy to rent a kayak, raft or paddleboard to float down the river. For an option that requires a bit less muscle, snag a jet boat tour.
Ride the Trails
Biking is big fun in Grand Junction. Whether you want to bike along the Colorado River’s paved path or mountain bike along rugged trails and slick rock, trails abound throughout Palisade, Grand Junction and Fruita.
Street art, specialty boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and breweries pepper Grand Junction’s picturesque downtown main street. Have a coffee at Kiln Coffee Bar, a taco at TacoParty, dessert at Enstrom Toffee & Confectionary, which has the best almond toffee in the world that they make in-house … and you can watch! Pepper these food stops with visits to unique shops like Triple Play Records for finding the perfect vinyl album, Old Friends Trading Company for one-of-a-kind Native American art and jewelry, Summit Canyon Mountaineering to gear up, Pollux Clothing for the latest styles and more.
Get a taste of Grand Junction for the weekend, and you will soon plan a longer stay.