Grand Junction, Colorado, is a unique and fun area to visit in Colorado’s Western slope. It is an excellent agricultural area, cultural and arts center, historic hub, and a mecca for outdoor recreation.
The climate in this Colorado town is perfect for growing grapes and peaches, so you’ll find some of the best wine and produce in the world coming from Grand Junction.
Nearly 76 percent of the land in Mesa County is public land, equating to nearly 1.8 million acres. That’s the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined! Between the Grand Mesa, Colorado River, and Colorado National Monument, there is never-ending exploration waiting to be had. You’ll find plenty of hiking, biking, camping, whitewater rafting, and skiing. If you love all things outdoors — Grand Junction is the perfect place to visit.
Ready to learn more? Here are 21 sensational things to do in Grand Junction that you and your crew are going to love!
CATCH YOUR NEED FOR SPEED AT GRAND JUNCTION MOTOR SPEEDWAY
The Grand Junction Motor Speedway is without a doubt one of the coolest go-karting and motorcycle racing venues in the country. This massive venue is perfect for anyone from beginner to expert.
If you’re visiting for the day, rent some karts and race the whole family. If you want to get better at racing or are brand new, check out their racing school. If you’re looking to enjoy the fun from the sidelines, attend a racing event. No matter what you do at the Grand Junction Motor Speedway, you’re sure to have an amazing time!
BIKE A SEEMINGLY UNLIMITED NUMBER OF AWESOME TRAILS
If you’re into mountain biking, Grand Junction is the place to be! Biking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Grand Junction, and there are plenty of trails to explore for all levels.
The Lunch Loops Trail System is the ultimate biking destination in Grand Junction and a true local’s favorite for single-track. It is adjacent to the Colorado National Monument and Bangs Canyon, which allows the Lunch Loops Trail System to provide spectacular views on challenging terrain.
A lesser-known mountain bike ride up on the Grand Mesa is the Turkey Flats Loop Trail. Grand Junction is known for its desert riding, but the Turkey Flats are a more lush area to ride, and it showcases the beauty of the Grand Mesa in Glade Park near the Colorado National Monument. Take this scenic ride if you’re looking for some less-crowded trails to enjoy in the summertime!
The Kokopelli Trail is a 142-mile backpacking/bike route that begins in Loma, Colorado and makes its way through the desert to Moab, Utah, while passing by the Colorado River at some points. It takes about five days to ride and the terrain is moderately difficult. It’s mostly old Jeep roads, but there are a few technical single-track areas as well. Nonetheless, the trail is full of natural beauty and you should absolutely check it off your bucket list when visiting Colorado’s Western slope!
POWDER HORN MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK
Powderhorn Mountain Resort is located on the Grand Mesa, just 45 minutes east of Grand Junction, and is the perfect place to visit no matter the time of year. The trails here are perfect for snow skiing in the wintertime and biking in the summer.
There are 13 miles of downhill bike trails to experience at Powderhorn Bike Park. If you’re not an experienced mountain biker but want to learn, I highly recommend taking a lesson here. Most of the terrain is geared towards beginners and intermediate bikers, so it’s the perfect place to learn or improve your skills while experiencing stunning views.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy ride the whole family will love, check out Rustler’s Loop. This 3.6-mile loop has a little bit of every type of terrain, so you’ll never be bored. The views are outstanding, as you’ll be right over the Grand Mesa.
The trail can get challenging, but never intimidating. There are signs along the way that provide tips for beginners, so it’s the perfect first ride for anyone new to mountain biking.
THREE SISTERS TRAIL
Three Sisters Park is ideal for riders of multi- skill levels. It is located right near downtown by the Lunch Loop Trail System and has nearly 130 miles of terrain to explore. Most of the trail is gentle terrain, perfect for beginners and kids.
Expert riders can take on one of the longest single-track downhill mountain bike trails in the U.S., the Palisade Plunge. This trail starts at the top of the Grand Mesa and brings you all the way down into the town of Palisade.
STEP BACK IN TIME WITH THE MUSEUMS OF WESTERN COLORADO
MUSEUM OF THE WEST
The Museum of the West is located in Grand Junction’s downtown area and is a great place to stop by in order to learn more about the area you are visiting. It is one of the largest museums in the west, and certainly the most popular in Colorado’s Western slope.
The museum contains interactive exhibits and artifacts on Western Colorado history and has some cool rotating exhibits as well. Be sure to plan a visit to have a fun time while learning more about the state of Colorado!
Bring the kids to Dinosaur Journey in order to learn more about geology, fossils, and of course, dinosaurs. This museum teaches its visitors about life in Western Colorado while showcasing real fossils, skeletons, and dinosaur replicas.
The museum has many features that will keep the entire family entertained, such as over 15,000 fossils, a viewable paleontology lab, a sandbox, and even a dinosaur “quarry site” where kids can dig to find dinosaur bones themselves.
CROSS ORCHARDS HISTORIC SITE
Make plans to visit the Museums of Western Colorado’s Cross Orchards Historic Site to step back in time and see what this area of Colorado looked like over 100 years ago.
Walk the grounds and see historic buildings, railroad cars, vintage equipment, and more. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the large 1890s-built barn and bunkhouse is a must see.
SAVOR THE VIEWS FROM THE COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
The Colorado National Monument is one of the most visited sites in Western Colorado, and for good reason! The towering monoliths and red rock canyons are beautiful to experience over views of Grand Valley.
There are many great ways to take in the natural beauty of this geological area. Head out on the biking and hiking trails, go canyoneering, try camping, or take in the views via the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive.
The historic Rim Rock Drive is a must when visiting the national monument. It is a top scenic drive in the United States. Bike or drive along this scenic drive and take in the vibrant red sandstone canyons and mesas rising above the Colorado River. Stop at some of the overlooks along the way to really take in the views — you won’t regret it!
SHOP TIL YOU DROP IN DOWNTOWN GRAND JUNCTION
Grand Junction has a lovely farmer’s market! When they say the food is local, they mean it was literally picked just a few hours ago from a few feet away. Mesa County has miles of orchards, particularly some of the best peaches in the world. Be sure to stop by the Grand Junction Downtown Farmer’s Market in the summertime for some of the best produce you’ll ever have, all handpicked from Colorado’s Western slope.
If you love a sweet treat, make plans to stop by Enstrom Candies in downtown Grand Junction. This toffee company has world famous almond toffee, toffee popcorn, and over 50 flavors of ice cream to satisfy your sweet tooth. Be sure to stop by while you’re in town!
EXPLORE ART ON THE CORNER
Art on the Corner in Grand Junction is one of the largest outdoor art displays in the U.S.
Every summer, you’ll find over 100 sculptures lining the streets of downtown Grand Junction, as this temporary sculpture exhibit showcases eclectic art throughout the community. It’s a great way to see some incredible art by talented artists.
Looking for more artwork? Try First Fridays in Grand Junction. Art galleries in Grand Junction stay open late on the first Friday of each month, usually from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. It’s a great way to see all the amazing art the town has to offer, while getting to know the locals.
EXPLORE GRAND MESA IN SUMMER AND WINTER
The Grand Mesa is the largest flat top mountain in the world, and one of the best places to visit no matter the time of year. It is home to a variety of trails, wildlife, and 300+ lakes, making it the perfect destination for your next hiking, camping, off-roading, biking, or skiing adventure.
In the summertime, my favorite way to spend a day here is by taking a drive along the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway, hiking along the famous Lost Lake Trail, and spending an evening at the Cobbett Lake Campground. Be sure to keep an eye out for elk passing by in the morning!
In the winter, you’ll find that the Grand Mesa offers awesome downhill and cross-country skiing opportunities, as well as one of the best networks of snowmobile trails in Colorado. Be sure to plan at least a full day at Grand Mesa in order to experience the best outdoor recreation that Mesa County has to offer!
SPEND AN AFTERNOON ALONG THE RIVERFRONT TRAIL
The Colorado River passes through Grand Junction, and you’ll find over 24 miles of paved paths to explore along the river. Take a walk along the Riverfront Trail, or go for a bike ride to experience all the islands, marshes, and wetlands along the river.
If you like disc golf, stop by Watson Island. If you like birdwatching, be sure to ride along the Audubon section of the trail for your chance to spot some unique wildlife and birds.
HIKE BIG DOMINGUEZ CANYON
Big Dominguez Canyon is another amazing place to visit near Grand Junction! This 12+-mile hike can be completed in a day, and gives visitors the chance to view historic petroglyphs, rock shelters, several waterfalls, and wildlife, such as big horned sheep.
At the base of the waterfall, you’ll find the best swimming hole in the state of Colorado, perfect for cooling off after a long hike. If you’re not quite up for the long hike, there are plenty of other things to do in Dominguez Canyon, such as kayaking, boating, horseback riding, and more!
GO WILD AT LITTLE BOOK CLIFFS WILD HORSE AREA
If you want to see some wild horses, be sure to visit the Little Book Cliffs area of Grand Junction! Here you’ll find 36,000 acres of beautiful scenery, including rugged open canyons, towering plateaus, and wild horses of all kinds.
The hikes aren’t difficult and the scenery is amazing, so be sure to stop by to enjoy the views and wildlife!
TEE UP! AT ONE OF SEVERAL GOLF COURSES
For the golfer in your group, there are plenty of great golf courses to visit in Grand Junction and the Western slope.
The Golf Club at Redlands Mesa is the #1 public golf course in Colorado. Tiara Rado Golf Course has some of the best views and wide open-back holes. The Lincoln Park Golf Course is close to downtown, so it’s a convenient place to visit in between adventures.
CHANNEL YOUR T-REX SIDE AT RABBIT VALLEY
Rabbit Valley near Grand Junction is the perfect area to explore for budding paleontologists. The high desert area is home to the active Mygatt-Moore Quarry, where more than 4,000 dinosaur bones have been found since the 1980s.
Kids will love the 1.5-mile Trail Through Time, an interpretive loop that features dinosaur fossils that are 140 billion years old!
EXPLORE THE RIVERS OF GRAND JUNCTION
Grand Junction sits at the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. The name “Grand Junction” even comes from the city’s proximity to these two significant riverways. Spend a day swimming, boating, kayaking, and playing in the water, or take a rafting trip from mild to wild on these storied waterways.
Grand Junction Adventures offers guided standup paddle boarding down the Gunnison and Dolores Rivers, so you can enjoy the waters and learn more about the area no matter your experience level.
GO 4X4ING IN THE CANYONLANDS
Off-roading is my personal favorite activity to do in Colorado, and there are plenty of great spots to visit in Grand Junction!
Rattlesnake Canyon is one of the coolest spots to visit, which is accessible via the 4×4 route or a 15-mile hike. Other than that, I recommend visiting Bangs Canyon and Rabbit Valley Recreation Area. Both areas offer stunning views and fun terrain, so you’re sure to have the best time!
TRY THE LOCAL WINE, BEER AND SPIRITS
The Grand Junction area is ideal for growing grapes, and features more than 30 wineries and tasting rooms, along with innovative winemakers who make a wide range of varietals.
Just because you’re in wine country, doesn’t mean there’s nothing else to drink. Grand Junction is also home to a booming beer scene, featuring a swath of locally crafted beers, as well as a variety of spirits, to suit a variety of tastes. Ramblebine Brewery is new to the scene, with great brews in a sleek new tasting room. Foam & Folly Brewery & Taproom serves up great beer in a whimsical space with a great backyard beer garden.
Edgewater Brewery is located directly on the Colorado Riverfront Trail and has a large lawn area for outdoor sipping. And Monumental Beer Works has rotating taps with beers inspired by the beauty surrounding Grand Junction, and features two outdoor patios with cornhole, a playground for kids, and lots of games to check out from the bar.
For those looking for local spirits, head on over to Highland’s Distillery for a hand-crafted cocktail made using local ingredients.
THE BEST PLACES TO STAY IN GRAND JUNCTION
Grand Junction is a place of unexpected adventure and also unexpected places to lay your head. From the hip and new boutique Hotel Maverick, which is full of adventure-inspired amenities, to a scenic winery and lodging experience wrapped into one at the Two Rivers Winery & Chateau.
Grand Junction is also welcoming the new Camp Eddy with Airstream, tiny home, and camping accommodations on the banks of the Colorado River to open in late summer 2022.
If you live in a van or RV like I do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that there are nearly 1.8 million acres of public land located in Mesa County, so there is plenty of space for you to find a spot to park and experience the natural beauty all around you.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO COLORADO
- YOUR COLORADO VACATION
- COLORADO SPRINGS: 31 Delightful Things To Do In Colorado Springs
- ESTES PARK: 17+ Of The Best Fun Things To Do In Estes Park
- VAIL: 33 Sensational Things To Do In Vail
- ASPEN: 18 Best Things To Do In Aspen For Year-Round Fun
WHERE TO STAY IN GRAND JUNCTION
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