The Best Things to Do in Grand Junction, Colorado
You: Looking for the best things to do in Grand Junction. Us: Here to tell you all the bucket list-worthy activities, hikes, and experiences you can have in the largest city in Colorado’s Western Slope! Grand Junction, Colorado is a top-notch outdoor adventure destination, a haven for vintners and foodies, and the best place to base yourself when exploring western Colorado.
With the continued rise in tourism in Denver and the front range of Colorado, more travelers are looking west to Grand Junction as an alternative destination a bit more off the beaten path. Whether you’re looking to hike, drink, eat, go on an offroad adventure, or put a stamp on your National Parks Passport at Colorado National Monument, we’ve got over a dozen ideas for how to spend your time in Grand Junction.
This guide to the best things to do in Grand Junction, Colorado is grouped by general nature activities like scenic drives and wildlife spotting, then adventure activities like hiking and mountain biking, followed by culinary and wine activities, and then the best day trips.
So without further ado – let’s dive into the best things to do in Grand Junction!
13 Best Things to do in Grand Junction, Colorado
From hiking and biking to wine tasting and art galleries, Grand Junction has it all. So, let’s dive in and discover the top activities and attractions that you won’t want to miss while exploring this hidden gem of Colorado. Here are the 13 best things to do in Grand Junction!
Best Nature Things to do in Grand Junction
There are many natural attractions in Grand Junction that are worth exploring. From hiking and biking to kayaking and rock climbing, there’s no shortage of things to do in this beautiful city. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best nature things to do in Grand Junction, including popular hiking trails, scenic drives, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Whether you’re a seasoned outdoor adventurer or just looking for a peaceful getaway in nature, Grand Junction has something for everyone. So, grab your hiking boots, pack your sunscreen, and get ready to explore the best of Grand Junction’s natural wonders!
Scenic Rim Rock Drive in Colorado National Monument
The heart and main road of Colorado National Monument is Rim Rock Drive, a scenic byway with dizzying canyon views over the sheer cliffs. All of the scenic viewpoints and overlooks in the Monument are on this road, as well as all of the park’s hiking trails. Without stops, you can drive from one end of the Monument in Fruita to the other in Grand Junction in about an hour. If you plan to do a few of the short hikes and stop at all of the overlooks, you can spend half to a full day doing the Rim Rock Drive.
Tip: This is the best thing to do in Grand Junction even if you don’t have time to stop. So if all you have time for is the hour-long drive through the Colorado National Monument, you can still get a taste of the red rock mesa landscapes that makes the area so unique!
Sunrise or Sunset in Colorado National Monument
If you are driving through Colorado National Monument you may as well time it with sunrise or sunset! With so many overlooks along Rim Rock Drive, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a spot to admire the rising or setting sun. Check out our comprehensive guide to sunrise and sunset at Colorado National Monument to choose the right viewpoint for your trip!
The sky was so vibrant and colorful the morning we watched the sunrise in Colorado National Monument. It was full of reds, purples, oranges, and pinks. We ended up getting one of our photos from that morning printed onto a large print to hang in our home, we loved it so much!
View Wild Horses Near Grand Junction
One of the best places to witness the majesty of wild horses in their natural habitats is at the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area. It’s just a short drive from Grand Junction, and the rugged terrain provides a stunning backdrop for these incredible creatures.
The Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area is home to over 100 wild horses, who roam freely across the expansive landscape. Visitors can hike, bike, or horseback ride through the area to catch a glimpse of these magnificent animals in action. And if you’re lucky, you may even get to see a newborn foal or two!
But while it’s exciting to see these wild horses up close, it’s important to remember that they are just that – wild. It’s best to observe them from a safe distance and never approach them or attempt to feed them. By respecting their space and treating them with care, we can help ensure that these beautiful creatures continue to thrive in their natural habitats.
We highly recommend adding a visit to the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area to your itinerary. It’s a unique and unforgettable way to experience the natural wonders of Grand Junction.
Best Active Things to do in Grand Junction
Whether you’re seeking a thrilling adventure or a more leisurely experience in nature, Grand Junction is the perfect destination to get your heart pumping and your adrenaline flowing.
So, gear up and get ready to discover the best of Grand Junction’s active outdoor experiences!
Hike Mount Garfield
The hike up Mount Garfield is not for the faint of heart, but the stunning views from the top are well worth the effort. At least so we’ve heard! Full transparency, we didn’t make it to the top of Mt. Garfield when we tried. It was a super windy day and the steep trail is completely exposed on both sides of you. We did not feel safe continuing, but we did make a fun Instagram Reel about the experience! The trail up Mt. Garfield is steep and rocky, with an elevation gain of nearly 2,000 feet in just under 2 miles.
As you make your way up the mountain, keep an eye out for wildlife such as mule deer and bighorn sheep. The trail is well-marked, but make sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring plenty of water.
Once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Grand Valley and the Book Cliffs. It’s the perfect spot to snap some photos and soak in the beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Go on a hike in Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument is a real gem, with hiking trails that offer some of the most breathtaking views you’ll find in the state. The trails here range in difficulty, so there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner.
One of the most popular hikes is the Canyon Rim Trail, which takes you along the edge of the canyon for stunning views of the rock formations and valley below. For a more challenging hike, try the Monument Canyon Trail, which will take you deep into the canyon and give you a chance to explore the unique rock formations up close. Our personal favorite, however, is the Devils Kitchen Trail!
No matter which trail you choose, be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat, as the sun can be intense. And of course, be respectful of the environment and leave no trace.
Mountain Biking in Grand Junction
If you’re a fan of adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities, you’re going to love mountain biking near Grand Junction. The area boasts some of the best mountain biking trails in the state, with options for all skill levels. From the challenging Lunch Loops trail system to the beginner-friendly trails at the Kokopelli Trailhead, you’ll find something to suit your level of experience and expertise.
The terrain around Grand Junction is perfect for mountain biking, with red rock formations, canyons, and desert landscapes providing the backdrop for your ride. You can choose to go on a guided tour, or rent a bike and explore on your own. Just make sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen, and be prepared for some jaw-dropping views!
Whether you’re a seasoned mountain biker or a newbie, the trails around Grand Junction are a must-visit for anyone who loves outdoor adventure. So why not hop on a bike and experience the thrill of mountain biking in Colorado?
Looking for a breathtaking hiking destination in Grand Junction? Look no further than Rattlesnake Arches, home to 35 natural rock arches, making it the second-largest concentration of arch formations in the world. This natural wonder was formed over millions of years from sandstone alcoves eroded by wind and dirt, resulting in an otherworldly landscape that is sure to leave you in awe.
But don’t be fooled by the stunning scenery – getting to Rattlesnake Arches can be quite challenging due to its remote and arid location. Visitors must drive a 13-mile rocky dirt road to get to the trailhead, and a high-clearance 4×4 vehicle is required for some areas. However, the journey is well worth it for the incredible views and unique hiking experience that awaits.
The Upper Rattlesnake Arches Trail is the most popular hiking option, with a round trip distance of 3.8 miles. This challenging hike is a must for adventurous travelers who are up for the challenge of navigating the rugged terrain and steep inclines. But be sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen, as the arid climate can be unforgiving.
Overall, Rattlesnake Arches is a true gem of Colorado’s natural wonders. So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and prepare for a journey through an otherworldly landscape that will leave you breathless.
Best Foodie Things to do in Grand Junction
Grand Junction is a foodie’s paradise, particularly with it being home to the best wineries and fresh fruit stands in Colorado!
Shop at the fruit stands
Palisade and Grand Junction, Colorado are famous for their local produce stands that offer a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables – but especially PEACHES! These stands provide a great opportunity for tourists and locals alike to get a taste of the region’s agricultural bounty.
You’ll find stands dotting the roadsides all along the Grand Valley, especially during the harvest season which is typically from late May through early October. While there is no shortage of produce stands in the area, some of the most popular ones are located in Palisade, which is known as the “Peach Capital of Colorado.”
The best part of visiting these fruit stands is that you get to taste the produce before you buy. You can sample different varieties of fruits and vegetables and choose the ones that you like the most. The friendly locals who run the stands are always happy to provide recommendations and share information about the area’s agriculture.
Wine Tasting Near Grand Junction
Grand Junction, Colorado, is a hub for wine tasting in the state, with many award-winning wineries in the area. If you’re planning a trip to the Grand Junction wine country, there are a few places you won’t want to miss.
Carlson Vineyards is one of the oldest wineries in Colorado and a must-visit destination for wine lovers. The winery has been producing wine since 1988 and has won numerous awards for its wines, including the prestigious Governor’s Cup. They offer a wide range of wines, from sweet fruit wines to dry reds and whites, all made from locally grown grapes.
Another top winery in the area is Restoration Winery, which offers a unique and inviting atmosphere for wine tasting. The winery is housed in a restored historic building, providing a charming setting to enjoy its wines. They produce a variety of wines, from classic Chardonnays and Cabernets to unique blends, and even offer a wine slushy.
Maison La Belle Vie Winery is another great option, located in Palisade just outside of Grand Junction. The winery specializes in Bordeaux-style wines, but also offers a selection of other varietals. Their tasting room provides beautiful views of the vineyards and the surrounding mountains, making it the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a glass of wine.
Colterris is a picturesque winery situated in the middle of a vineyard, offering breathtaking views of the Grand Mesa and Bookcliffs. Visitors can enjoy a variety of award-winning wines while taking in the stunning scenery.
To create a perfect day of wine tasting, visitors can start at Carlson Vineyards in the morning, then head to Restoration Winery for a midday tasting and lunch at their onsite restaurant. In the afternoon, visit Maison La Belle Vie for a more refined wine-tasting experience, and end the day at Colterris, taking in the stunning views and sipping on their delicious wines.
Best Day Trips from Grand Junction
If you’re planning a trip to Grand Junction, Colorado, there’s no shortage of amazing places to explore nearby. From stunning canyons and mesas to charming small towns, there are plenty of options for a day trip from Grand Junction. Here are just a few of the best destinations to consider:
Grand Mesa Day Trip from Grand Junction
Located just 45 minutes from Grand Junction, Grand Mesa is the largest flat-top mountain in the world and a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts. You can hike through stunning wildflower meadows, fish in crystal-clear lakes, and take in breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
Rifle Day Trip from Grand Junction
Rifle is a small town just 30 minutes from Grand Junction that’s full of history and outdoor activities. We recommend visiting Rifle Falls State Park to check out the stunning waterfalls, and then hiking Rifle Arch afterward for a half-day excursion from Grand Junction!
Black Canyon of the Gunnison Day Trip from Grand Junction
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located just 90 minutes from Grand Junction and offers some of the most spectacular canyon scenery in the United States. You can hike along the rim of the canyon, take a scenic drive along the North and South Rim Roads, or even go whitewater rafting on the Gunnison River.
Day Trip to Moab from Grand Junction
Moab, Utah is just a short drive from Grand Junction and a great destination for outdoor adventurers. The town is surrounded by stunning red rock formations, and you can explore nearby Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park. Hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing are all popular activities in the area.
Where is Grand Junction?
Located in Western Colorado, Grand Junction is a city that is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. The city is situated at the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers and offers access to national parks, monuments, and outdoor recreational activities.
How do I get to Grand Junction?
If you’re planning to visit Grand Junction, you have several transportation options available. You can fly directly into Grand Junction Regional Airport, which offers daily flights to several major cities in the United States. Alternatively, you can drive to Grand Junction via Interstate 70, which runs through the heart of the city.
Where to Stay in Grand Junction?
There are a lot of options for where to stay near Colorado National Monument. Saddlehorn Campground is your best option within the park, and the towns of Palisade, Grand Junction, and Fruita are all good options just outside the park.
Saddlehorn Campground within Colorado National Monument is definitely the most convenient location to stay when visiting CNM. The campground is located near the Saddlehorn Visitors Center. You can check Saddlehorn Campground reservations and availability online. The campground itself is a fantastic place to catch the sunset in Colorado National Monument.
Hotels in Fruita, Palisade, and Grand Junction
Fruita, Palisade, and Grand Junction are all excellent bases for a sunrise or sunset trip to Colorado National Monument. Fruita and Grand Junction hug either end of CNM, and Palisade is just outside Grand Junction and a great choice for those who want to see Colorado’s wine country as well.
Grand Junction Hotels
- Hotel Maverick
- Courtyard by Marriott Grand Junction
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott Grand Junction Downtown/Historic Main St.
- Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Grand Junction Downtown
- Days Inn by Wyndham Grand Junction
Palisade/Wine Country Hotels
What is the Weather like in Grand Junction?
Grand Junction experiences a semi-arid climate, which means that it has hot summers and cool winters. The city receives an average of 9 inches of precipitation per year, with most of it falling during the winter months. During the summer, temperatures can reach up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s important to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen.
What Should I Pack for Visiting Grand Junction?
We are assuming you are going to want to enjoy some of Grand Junction’s hikes and natural beauty while you are in town, so here is a list of items you will want to consider bringing!
- Hiking poles: Hiking poles can help you maintain balance, reduce the impact on your joints, and provide stability on rough terrain.
- Daypack or backpack: A daypack or backpack is essential for carrying all your gear, including water, snacks, and extra clothing layers.
- Water: It’s crucial to stay hydrated on a hike, especially in the dry climate of Grand Junction. Bring at least 2 liters of water per person for a half-day hike, and more for longer hikes.
- Gallon jug for the day for the drives: It’s important to bring enough water not only for the hike but also for the drives to and from the trailhead.
- Hydration pack with 2-liter reservoir or 3-liter reservoir for the hikes: A hydration pack is a convenient way to carry water and allows you to drink hands-free while hiking.
- Snacks: Bring high-energy snacks like trail mix, energy bars, or fruit to keep you fueled and focused on the trail. We like Clif bars!
- First aid kit: Accidents can happen on the trail, so it’s important to carry a first aid kit with basic supplies like bandages, antiseptic, and pain relievers.
- Sunglasses year-round: Sunglasses are essential for protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays, which can be just as strong in winter as in summer.
- Microspikes in fall, winter, or spring: Microspikes provide extra traction on icy or snowy trails and can prevent slips and falls.
- Navigation: Download your hiking routes on an app like All Trails or bring a paper map. Always bring a map or download your hiking route in advance, and make sure you know how to use it. This will help you stay on the right trail and avoid getting lost.
Final Thoughts on the Best Things to do in Grand Junction
Grand Junction, Colorado, is a truly iconic destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or a foodie, Grand Junction is a city that promises to deliver an experience to remember.
From its stunning natural landscapes and outdoor activities to its vibrant culinary scene and award-winning wines, Grand Junction celebrates the best of Colorado. Hiking in the Colorado National Monument, mountain biking on the Lunch Loops, and exploring the local vineyards, there are many bucket-list experiences to scratch off in Grand Junction!
We hope that this guide has provided you with some inspiration for your next visit to Grand Junction. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning adventurer, we encourage you to explore and discover all that this beautiful city has to offer. So, pack your bags, grab your hiking boots, and get ready to experience the best of Grand Junction, Colorado!