Grand Junction Colorado
Grand Junction, named “Grand” for the historical upper part of the Colorado River and “Junction” for the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers, is a city perfectly situated for exploring the Grand Mesa and the Colorado Wine Country. What’s more, it’s all within striking distance of the natural wonders and beauty of the San Juan Mountains and the Cimarron Range of southwestern Colorado.
Grand Junction is a major commercial and transportation hub on the Western Slope of Colorado. As Colorado’s up and coming region for food, wine, and adventures of all types, Grand Junction is a great place to start your vacation. Check out the lively downtown scene by seeing a show at the Avalon Theater, tour of one or more of Colorado’s best wineries, golf on one of Colorado’s premier courses, spend the day hiking at the Colorado National Monument, or mountain bike the numerous trail systems including the world renowned Kokopelli (Fruita to Moab) and Tabeguache (Grand Junction to Montrose).
Located in western Colorado, Grand Junction is the largest city on the Western Slope and only a short distance from a number of popular attractions including Telluride, Ouray, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the Gunnison Gorge NCA.
Top 5 Day Trips from Grand Junction
Within two hours or less, there are many amazing day trips from Grand Junction that will keep you out of the heat.
The Grand Mesa in Colorado is known as the largest flat-top mountain in the world, encompassing hundreds of square miles and standing more than 10,000 feet above sea level. The Mesa National Scenic & Historic Byway winds through 63 miles of the national forest, providing beautiful views of the park’s lakes, wildlife and geological features. A short drive east of Grand Junction, the Mesa is a popular destination for fishing, camping, hiking and more during the summer months, with more than 300 lakes swarming with trout, and a lush forest habitat for porcupines, coyotes, red fox, elk, and deer. In the winter, snow sports take over with cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snow shoeing. Grand Junction is home to Powderhorn Resort, which offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Colorado. The area has more than 8,000 years of human history, from the Ute people up to the visitors of today.
Colorado Wine Country
Shaded by the majestic beauty of the red rock cliffs and mesas that surround Grand Junction and Palisade, the Grand Valley is home to more than 20 wineries and vineyards, serving up some of Colorado’s best wines. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy a summer afternoon wine tasting, winery tour, or the annual Colorado Mountain Winefest, which is held every September. The area around Grand Junction, Colorado, has been blessed with climate and soil conditions perfect for growing quality wine grapes. The federal government has even designated one area of the Grand Valley as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in recognition of the quality wine grapes produced by local growers.
A perfect day trip from Grand Junction, Ouray is a historic and charming Victorian era mining town dubbed the “Little Switzerland of America.” Only about a 2 hour drive from Grand Junction, come to Ouray to soak in the natural hot springs, hike miles of established trails or go 4 wheeling in the “Jeep Capital of the World.”
Black Canyon of the Gunnison and the Gunnison Gorge
A 90 minute drive lands you in the heart of one of the longest, narrowest, and deepest gorges in the world. Only 11 miles from Montrose you will witness 2 million years of work by the Gunnison River, carving some of North America’s oldest exposed rock and steepest cliffs. The Gunnison River lures fly fishers of all experience levels with its remote river terrain, wildlife, and amazing fishing. The Gunnison River is the fifth largest tributary of the Colorado River, 164 miles (264 km) long, with significant historic sites including some of Colorado’s oldest Native American rock art. The Gunnison Gorge is the crown jewel of fishing on the Gunnison River with 14.5 miles of Gold Medal waters and natural wonder, nestled in a National Conservation Area. Whether float fishing, fly fishing, or rafting, explore a multiday adventure on this section for the experience of a lifetime.
Owl Creek Pass and the Cimarron Range
Whether you are a backcountry enthusiast or an RV traveler, Owl Creek Pass and the Cimarron Range offer everyone a rare and unspoiled wilderness adventure. If you seek solitude, backcountry hiking, camping, or high alpine fly fishing, this is your place. Highlights include wild rainbow and cutthroat trout on the three forks of the Cimarron River, the scenic and remote Silverjack Reservoir, along with great camping and fishing below the dam at the Big Cimarron Campground. The area boasts excellent public access and is only about a 3 hour drive from Grand Junction.
Since its humble beginnings as a rowdy mining town, Telluride has always been a special kind of place. Now a cultural icon, visit Telluride for some of Colorado’s most spectacular scenery, a world class mountain resort, world famous festivals, culinary delights and outdoor activities that will leave you breathless.
Need to get away for a few days?
If you are looking to escape the heat or simply get out of Grand Junction for a few days, consider these options in southwestern Colorado.
Million Dollar Highway and San Juan Skyway
The name says it all. This drive offers up “million dollar” views that will leave you breathless, taking you through some of Colorado’s most spectacular mountain passes and charming towns. The 24 mile section between Silverton and Ouray is by far the most stunning and dramatic portion of this classic drive. Going South from Ouray as you approach the summit of Red Mountain, you will pass old mines and abandoned buildings, including the ghost towns of Red Mountain Town and Ironton.
Also along this route are the trailheads for the Alpine loop and Black Bear Pass. For the more adventurous travelers who want to explore the backcountry, make sure you have a vehicle with four-wheel drive and high clearance. As you leave Ouray, you will pass the famous Ouray Ice Park on the right. Take a right at Camp Bird Road for access to the Yankee Boy Basin, or take the scenic route to Telluride via Imogene Pass – the 2nd highest drivable pass in Colorado at 13,100 feet.
Should you choose to do the San Juan Skyway from the other direction, take Highway 62 west off of 550 in the historic ranching town of Ridgway. Located in a beautiful open valley with expansive views of the Cimarron Range and the San Juan Mountains, Ridgway sits at the crossroads between Ouray, Montrose, and Telluride. Known for its family friendly feel, Ridgway puts you right in the heart of regional outdoor adventures. Only minutes away from the San Miguel River, the Uncompahgre, and Ridgway State Park. Ridgway is the perfect place to stop, relax, and enjoy the outdoors.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a trip the whole family will never forget. This historic steam locomotive train ride has been in operation for more than 120 years. Enjoy 45 miles of Southwest Colorado’s canyons, abandoned mining camps, and the steepest peaks around. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is an ideal family getaway.