Here are things to do in Grand Junction, Colorado, my home town! There are so many things to do in Grand Junction but if I had to sum it up I would call it peaches, wine and outdoor sports. Its renowned for all three, but I would call it the outdoor adventure capital of Colorado. I spend 24 years in Grand Junction and you better believe there are so many outdoor activities to do in the area, in all four seasons, that people flock here from all over the world just to get their hands in it! Here are just a few of the:
15 Best Things to do in Grand Junction
1. Climbing Mt. Garfield, enjoying the bird’s eye view
The views from the top of Mt. Garfield are phenomenal. You can see all corners of Palisade below, as well as lots of Grand Junction. There are a few trail heads starting around Palisade, some harder than the others. The main trail is about two miles of very steep hiking, to the very point of the mountain, showed above, where there’s a flag and some paper to sign your name on. You can also do a little bit of an easier hike to the Lemon Squeezer, where you squeeze through a crack and arrive on a flat ledge on the top of the world.
2. Grand Junction Motor Speedway
What would Coloradans do in a giant desert? Build an epic go-kart track obviously! Grand Junction Motor Speedway offers this 9 mile, 32 foot wide track, with lots of hair-pin turns and technical corners is one of the premier Kart racing facilities in the USA. It caters to both pro race teams and amateurs wanting to race their buddies. Taking our carts, or taking lessons, is a ton of fun and definitely something to try out!
3. Take a wine tasting tour
The vineyards and wineries around the Grand Valley are quickly becoming world renowned. When I was young, especially in Palisade (next door to Grand Junction), every field and corner was covered in peach orchards. The Grand Valley was famous for its amazing peaches, maybe the best in the US. But slowly many peach orchards and hay fields started turning into vineyards, wineries and many times boutique hotels. There are many great wineries now, making their own unique brands. Get a map and connect the dots, taking advantage of each winery’s free wine tastings. You might need a taxi, because you are going to be feeling good by the end!
4. Go skiing at Powder Horn Resort
Powder horn isn’t word famous ski resort like nearby Aspen or Telluride, but to the locals, its the place to go for some great skiing and snowboarding. The area up there, around an hour drive through the beautiful mountains, is nestled in the aspen trees in an incredibly beautiful setting. They offer lessons, and have a decent restaurant as well. Its definitely one of the best things to do in Grand Junction in the winter. You can even head just down the road to Old Powder Horn and do some EPIC sledding!
5. Hunt for dinosaur bones in the hills
Many people don’t know but Western Colorado, the area around Grand Junction and Fruita, are part of “Dinosaur Diamond,” a geographical area with a rich paleontological history. Many pre-historic skeletons have been found in the area, including stegosaurus and brachiosaurus and more. You can go searching for bones yourself (I’ve found some myself), or head to the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita. What ever you do, its one of the coolest things to do in Grand Junction, and a great education.
6. Tubbing the Colorado River through town
Tubing the river is still one of my favorite memories from high school and after. Most of my friends still do it each year as soon as its warm enough. The best times is around July when the waters are warm, but not too high from the snow melt. The most fun is to get a group of people together with a bunch of float tubes and getting into the river upstream in Palisade. Then you have hours of floating to do! You can even go all the way through Grand junction and get out in Fruita. Its great fun, but be careful because people have been known to get way too drunk and drowned on the river!
7. Hike Dominguez Canyon and see some Native American artifacts and carvings
Another great hike, or bike, with amazing views near Grand Junction! About a 15 minute drive from Grand junction on Highway 50 towards Whitewater (you will need a map or a local) is the entry to this amazing canyon with a long history. The last time i was there I saw a very old bridge, beautiful river carving through incredible canyons as well as ancient Native American signs. One was a pictograph carving on a canyon wall, and another on a giant rock. Pretty cool stuff to see!
8. Ice climbing in winter
Img SRc: www.summitpost.org Are you a rock climber that needs another challenge? Then maybe climbing a frozen waterfall will do the trick. Colorado is full of them in the winter, but the Ouray Ice Park is a premier place to do it safely. Only an hour or so drive from Grand Junction, this is definitely a thrill worth having!
9. Mountain bike the Kokopelli’s Trail
This is one of the best biking trails there is. It’s 140 miles long, starting in Loma, and ending in Moab, Utah. it has intense climbs, smooth valleys, steep drops and epic views. The lowest point in elevation is around 4000 feet, and the highest at 8500. If you are an outdoor lover and/or mountain biking addict, put this on your bucketlist, no matter how far away you live!
10. Whitewater rafting Shoshone Canyon
As apposed to just lazily floating down the river through town with a beer in hand, you might prefer a paddle in your hand and helmet on your head. Through the narrow Glenwood Canyon near Shoshone and Noname companies offer great whitewater rafting trips through some awesome rapids. If you are into kayaking, definitely head here as well! Its less than an hour drive from Grand Junction, just past Glenwood Springs. If you’ve never driven through Colorado, this drive alone will be worth you time!
11. Palisade Preach and wine festivals
each year, at different dates, Grand junction’s neighbor, Palisade, hosts a peach festival and a wine festival in the park, each with its own fruity theme. The peach fest hosts many booths and venders giving away and selling everything peach related, from pie to peach beer. The wine fest has the same, but with the grapes and wine focus. Its a lot of fun, and if you are in town during these, a must see. You can even take off your shoes and stomp on some grapes in the process to make wine!
12. Hike the Colorado National Monument
The mini Grand Canyon! This is arguably the most spectacular views in the Grand Junction area. Where the Grand Mesa is all aspen and spruce trees, the Monument is desert and sandstone cliffs. Huge, sheering wall cliffs. Its one of the best rock climbing destinations in the world, and many climbers head to Independence Rock for an insane vertical ascent. If you aren’t a climber, still head here for some amazing hiking-accessible views. Even just the drive, sometimes very close to HUGE drop-offs, is incredible. Another MUST DO when it comes to things to do in Grand Junction.
13. Watch some awesome drag races at the dragway
I have some great memories at the drag strip! Most weekends the dragway hosted some awesome races, with top fuel dragsters and funny-cars, built up muscle cars, top fuel bikes and more. Ever since Fast and the Furious 1 came out and everyone wanted to be a racer, there was a problem in town with illegal drag-racing in the streets of Grand Junction. So once a week the dragway opened up at night and let anyone race! You could even test your tuned up street car against the local police interceptor cars. Fun to do and to watch as well!
14. Go trap and skeet shooting
There is a trap and skeet shooting range in town, subsequintly called the Grand Junction Trap Club. In case you don’t know, trap and skeet shooting is where you get to shoot clay pigeons out of the air at different distances. It’s actually loads of fun, and I use to do it a ton when I was younger. The range is actually located right next to the dragway, so maybe after a day of shooting clay pigeons you can head over and watch some funny-cars do some top-fuel drag races. Sounds like a full day of fun things to do in Grand Junction!
15. Do some fishing or hiking on the Grand Mesa
There are thousands of lakes in Colorado, and they can all be called world-class when it comes to beauty. The Grand Mesa, which looks down on The Grand Valley of Palisade and Grand Junction. There’s no where more beautiful that the Grand Mesa with all its lakes, wildlife, untouched nature. The pristine landscape up there offer amazing hikes, fishing, camping, and even just a nice scenic drive. You wont want to miss this as its one of the best things to do in Grand Junction!
So there you have it. These are just SOME of the best things to do in Grand Junction and the surrounding area. There are so many other things to do here, that it would take me all week to list them all! I didn’t even mention all the good bars to drink at, the movie theaters, the shopping, the kid’s amusement parks, paintballing and much much more.