Grand Junction, Colorado is a beautiful city located in the western part of the state. It is known for its stunning scenery, outdoor recreation opportunities, and vibrant downtown area. Whether you are looking for an adventurous getaway or a relaxing vacation, here are our top things to do in Grand Junction, Colorado, which just so happens to also be my hometown!
1. Explore Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument is a must-see for any visitor to Grand Junction. This park is home to towering red rock cliffs, deep canyons, and stunning views. There are a variety of hiking and biking trails to choose from, ranging from easy to challenging. You can also drive the Rim Rock Road for panoramic views of the monument that will take you from the Redlands area of Grand Junction to its neighboring community of Fruita.
2. Visit the Grand Mesa
The Grand Mesa is the world’s largest flattop mountain, and it is located just a short drive from Grand Junction. There are endless things to do on the Grand Mesa at any time of year! Summer months welcome hikers, campers, fisherman, boaters, and mountain bikers, while the winter months accommodating snow-showers, skiers and snowboarders, sledders, cross-country skiers, and more! You can also visit the Grand Mesa Visitor Center to learn more about the mountain’s natural history.
3. Rafting on the Colorado River
The Colorado River flows through Grand Junction, and it is a great place to go rafting. There are a variety of rafting companies that offer trips for all skill levels. You can choose from a single-day trip to a multi-day trip. For those looking for less adventure, there are plenty of calmer corridors of the river that flow through the valley and make for great leisurely float trips!
4. Visit the Dinosaur Journey Museum
The Dinosaur Journey Museum is a great place to learn about the dinosaurs that once roamed the Grand Junction area. The museum has exhibits on dinosaur fossils, dinosaur life, and the history of paleontology. There is also a dinosaur dig site where kids can search for fossils. As someone who grew up in the area, I have fond memories of visiting this museum. It is a great afternoon activity for families that is both fun and educational!
5. Sample the Local Wine
Grand Junction is located just a few miles from the town of Palisade—the heart of Colorado’s wine country. There are over 20 wineries in the area, and many of them offer tastings and tours. You can also find local wines at many of the restaurants in Grand Junction. Each year, Palisade also hosts Colorado Mountain Winefest, which was recently names the best wine festival in the US!
6. Visit the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens
The Western Colorado Botanical Gardens is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the high desert. The gardens feature a variety of plants both native to the area and from all over the world. Personally for me, the highlight of the botanical gardens is the butterfly house. It is a closed in green house with tropic lush plants where butterflies roam freely! The butterflies are just as magical now that I’m an adult as they were when I visited as a young child.
7. Explore Downtown Grand Junction
Downtown Grand Junction is a vibrant area with a variety of shops, restaurants, and art galleries. You can also find a number of historical buildings in downtown Grand Junction, including the Mesa County Courthouse and the recently renovated Avalon Theatre. You can find breweries, bagel shops, unique coffee joints, local outdoor shops, and more all within the confines of Downtown Grand Junction.
8. Go Mountain Biking
Grand Junction is a world-class destination for mountain biking. There are over 1,000 miles of mountain biking trails in the area, ranging from easy to challenging. You can also rent mountain bikes from a number of shops in Grand Junction. Check out this guide on The Best Biking Trails in Fruita, Palisade, and Grand Junction for local tips!
Additional tips for planning your trip to Grand Junction:
- The best time to visit Grand Junction is during the spring and fall, when the weather is mild. Summers are hot, and winters can be cold, especially during inversions that trap cold air in the valley.
- Grand Junction is a relatively small city, so it is easy to get around by car or bicycle, depending on how far you want to ride. There are also options for Ubers and Lyfts for those who fly in and don’t want to rent a car.
- There are a growing number of hotels and motels in Grand Junction and the surrounding towns, as well as a variety of vacation rentals. With so many choices, folks are sure to find the perfect accommodation for their visit!
- Grand Junction is a popular tourist destination, so it is important to book your accommodations and activities in advance, especially during the peak seasons and festivals. Planning ahead of time can ensure you are able to attend the festivals and events you hope to.
I hope this blog has been helpful, and from a Grand Junction native to a potential tourist, have a great time in the beautiful Grand Valley!