At almost 5,000 feet, Grand Junction is home to Colorado's wine country and has miles and miles of trails to explore in the area. The area is also known for its dinosaur museum which holds real dinosaur fossils.
I lived in Fruita/Grand Junction for a little under a year, and even met J.D. there! We did a lot of camping, hiking, and cycling. I also saw my first mountain when I moved to Colorado.
The coolest part about Grand Junction is that you'll get a real feel of Colorado. Denver is overcrowded and in my opinion, a little bit overrated (sorry Denverites).
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1. Walk the trails
There are plenty of trails to check out in and around the Grand Junction area. Here is a list of trails in Grand Junction and below are a few of my favorite trails in GJ. Most of them are dog-friendly, but you should always check ahead of time.
- Mt. Garfield
- Ute Petroglyph Trail
- Colorado Monument Trail
- Dinosaur Hill Trail
2. Visit Fruita
Fruita is the neighboring town of Grand Junction and is packed with outdoor activities. The small city is popular among cyclists, rafters, climbers, and hikers. Downtown Fruita is a small street filled with several local businesses and restaurants. Make sure to check out the local cafes and breweries after your bike ride or hike. You can learn more about Fruita here.
3. Colorado Scenic Byway: Dinosaur Diamond
Renting a car in Grand Junction is a must and this is why. The Colorado Dinosaur Diamond ScenicBywayy takes you through several different landscapes and you get to witness insanely beautiful views. You can follow this step by step guide here.
4. Grand Junction Main Street
Grand Junction's main street is home to several local businesses, art galleries, bars, restaurants, and tattoo shops. There are also concert venues that host symphonies, orchestras, and other shows that are popular among the locals. A couple of my favorite restaurant and cafes are Main Street Bagel (coffee and breakfast) and Pablos (pizza and is vegan-friendly).
I have heard that a couple stores have closed since I've moved, which is why it's so important to support small businesses.
5. Dinosaur Searching
Grand Junction (and Fruita more specifically) is home to a popular dinosaur museum and trail. If you're not looking to spend money, you can head to Dinosaur Hill Trail or you can check out the Dinosaur Journey Museum for under $10 a ticket. You can get more info here.
6. Free festivals
Festivals and fairs are popular in the Grand Junction area. Whether you're into wine tasting festivals, peach festivals, or art festivals, you'll find your festival fix here. You can check out an updated list of festivals here.
7. Colorado National Monument
The Colorado National Monument is a popular area near GJ for cyclists and trail runners. You can drive or cycle to the top or hike the Colorado Monument Trail. This area is known for its desert and sandstone cliffs and is also popular among rock climbers. During our hike, we saw a couple climbing a vertical wall that looked absolutely terrifying and they even topped out!
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8. View Petroglyphs
The Ute Petroglyph Trail is home to petroglyphs left behind by the Ute Indians. Located in the Palisade area, the trail is marked as moderate and will take around 2-3 hours to complete. You'll see amazing views of the Grand Junction area and surrounding cities.
9. Canyon View Park
Canyon View Park is a popular area to go to for several different activities. If you have kids, the park will entertain them for hours with a fully accessible playground, pond, trails, and tons more. For adults (and even kids, I suppose), there are basketball, baseball, and football fields, as well as a tennis court and sand volleyball court.
This area is dog-friendly and there is a dog-park listed on the website (although I don't remember there being one when I lived there).
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10. Grand Mesa
The Grand Mesa is a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts. We spent many nights camping here and exploring the forests. The Grand Mesa is also known for being the largest flat top mountain the world and has over 300 lakes to explore. Even if you're not a camper, driving through the Grand Mesa will put the cherry on top of a wonderful trip to the western slope.
Grand Junction is a must if you're visiting Colorado. The western slope is often neglected from tourists as most people flock to Denver, but Colorado has so much to offer than the Denver area. Rent a car and visit other cities like Ouray, Durango, Steamboat Springs, and Telluride!
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Have you ever been to Grand Junction, Colorado?
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