Grand Junction, a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, is home to diverse landscapes like Colorado National Monument, Grand Mesa, Bookcliffs and the Colorado River. Mountains, rivers, lakes, desert, vineyards, canyons — there is no place else in Colorado where you can experience the intersection of so many prized ecosystems.
Encounter wild horses.
Nestled in the Bookcliffs above Grand Junction is the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area. This 36,000-acre preserve is one of only three wild horse sanctuaries in the entire country. More than 100 horses roam the vicinity, supplying excellent opportunities to see and photograph them. Guests can either drive to the area or hike in through the Mount Garfield Trail, a classic Grand Junction route that’s beloved by locals. It works its way up the face of Mount Garfield on the Bookcliffs and ends with panoramic views in all directions. Other wildlife, such as elk, deer, and desert bighorn sheep, can also be seen here. More hiking trails >>
Ride your bike … all the way to Moab.
Famed for its mountain-biking trails, Grand Junction attracts people near and far seeking new and challenging singletrack. Trail networks like 18 Road, Kokopelli and Lunch Loops provide miles and miles of interlocking trail options, allowing riders to stay in the saddle for hours on end. But for those looking to ride even further, Grand Junction offers two great options that stretch all the way to Moab.
The Kokopelli Trail is 142 miles of mountain-biking bliss. Some parts of the trail are technical singletrack, while other sections are dirt roads — but the entire route is strikingly beautiful. The Grand Junction REI offers classes to prepare you for this multi-day bike-packing trip. Meanwhile, the Grand Junction to Moab Trail combines paved roadways with dirt roads, making it a great option for gravel grinders. This route is 155 miles and has two cabins along the way to hunker down in.
Each cabin is stocked with food, drinks and cots with sleeping bags. Since cabins are only available to rent two months a year when the Grand Junction to Moab Trail is accessible (May and October), be sure to plan in advance! With all there is to experience in the Grand Junction area, plan to arrive a few days before your departure for your ride to take in all of the sights, experience the downtown area and to taste all of the local craft-beverage offerings and locally sourced cuisine. More mountain-biking trails >>
Explore the collection of murals along the Colorado River.
The Riverfront Trail follows the Colorado River as it flows westward toward Utah. The trail can be explored by foot, bike (including e-bikes) or in-line skates. Wildlife passes through this area, including more than 200 species of birds, so keep your eyes peeled as you explore. A collection of colorful murals also adorns the pathway. Check out Ruby Canyon Cycles for bike rentals and other outdoor gear.
Play on Golfweek’s No. 1-rated Colorado public golf course.
Tucked away in the high desert at the base of Colorado National Monument’s pink and red sandstone is Redlands Mesa, an award-winning public course that is surrounded by scenery so impressive, you might find it hard to focus on your swing. Perfectly groomed greenways are carved into a canyon speckled with ponds and surrounded by rolling hills and massive boulders. Bonus: It’s surprisingly affordable.
Enjoy a Palisade peach, straight from the branch.
Every year during the summer, Palisade peaches are in high demand, and cities throughout the country ship in these juicy treats. During the season, many orchards in Palisade offer tours where you can explore the colorful orchards and pick your own, ripe for the taking. Palisade is also known for apples, cherries, plums, and of course, grapes.