12 Things To Do in Grand Junction, Colorado

Nestled in Colorado’s Western Slope region, Grand Junction is a vibrant city surrounded by gorgeous red rock landscapes, rushing rivers, and scenic trails. Known as Colorado’s Wine Country, Grand Junction has plenty to offer visitors looking for outdoor adventures, unique local wineries and breweries, fascinating museums, and eclectic art galleries and events.

Whether you love hiking, biking, fishing, wine tasting or just taking in the area’s spectacular scenery, there are many exciting things to do in Grand Junction. From exploring the spectacular Colorado National Monument to walking the Art on the Corner outdoor sculpture path to river rafting the Colorado River, Grand Junction has something for everyone.

Here are 12 of the best things to do in Grand Junction, Colorado for an unforgettable visit:

Marvel at the Views in Colorado National Monument

Sprawling over rugged canyons and towering monoliths, Colorado National Monument protects one of the grand landscapes of the American West. The 23,000 acres contain stunning formations like Independence Monument, the 450 foot tall Coke Ovens, and the Kissing Couple, one of the park’s most photographed features.

With towering walls, sheer cliffs, and deep canyons perfect for echoing shouts, the National Monument looks like something out of a wild west movie. Don’t miss the winding 23 mile Rim Rock Drive with its panoramic views down into Red Canyon and the Upper Colorado River Valley along the way. Stop at overlooks and get out to hike for a closer look.

Go Wine Tasting in Colorado’s Wine Country

Known as Colorado’s Wine Country, the Grand Valley is an unexpected wine destination with over 20 wineries dotting the countryside. With its high elevation, abundant sunshine, and volcanic and sandy soils, the Grand Valley offers ideal conditions for growing grapes and fruit.

Wineries like Garfield Estates Vineyards, Carlson Vineyards, and Mesa Park Vineyards serve award-winning wines while offering tastings with unparalleled views. Many also host special events like live music, harvest festivals, grape stomps, blending seminars and barrel tastings.

See Dinosaur Fossils at Dinosaur Journey Museum

One of western Colorado’s top attractions, Dinosaur Journey Museum takes visitors back millions of years through hands-on exhibits and real dinosaur bones. As one of only a few fossil prep labs in the country you can watch paleontologists cleaning and preparing fossils for research and study.

Interactive exhibits let you feel what it was like in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods and get eye to eye with robotic recreations of dinosaurs like the towering apatosaurus. The onsite quarry is one of the richest late Jurassic bone beds in the world perfect for public fossil digging programs. Don’t miss touching an authentic 150 million year old stegosaurus fossil!

Check Out the Art Scene in Downtown Grand Junction

Downtown Grand Junction has a lively creative community centered around independent galleries, colorful murals, sculptures and arts events. The unique Art on the Corner outdoor sculpture path weaves through downtown with each corner featuring large-scale public art installations.

Top galleries like American Spirit Gallery display regional and national artists across mediums like painting, sculpture, jewelry and more. Make sure to catch one of downtown’s regular community art walks or festivals to mingle with local artists while enjoying wine, snacks and live demonstrations.

Go Rafting or Kayaking on the Colorado River

For adventurers, a rafting or kayaking trip down the mighty Colorado River offers an up close view of Ruby Canyon and the Ruby Horsethief section of Labyrinth Canyon. Courses wind through desert scenery, meeting fun rapids like Black Rocks and Triple Drop. With Class I-III options, rafting trips can be tailored for all ages and skill levels for a splashy ride.

Kayaking offers even more freedom to explore side canyons down the river. Along the way, glimpse Native American petroglyphs, outlaw hideouts, and desert bighorn sheep clambering magnificently along the canyon walls. With over 300 days of sunshine a year in Grand Junction, conditions for rafting and kayaking are ideal most of the year long.

Ride the Trails on Kokopelli Loops

Built upon traditional Ute and settler routes, the 142-mile Kokopelli Loops trail system spans both pavement and singletrack across high desert mesas around Grand Junction. With epic views of Colorado National Monument, the Bookcliffs and the Grand Valley, Kokopelli offers a range of mountain biking and hiking for all ages and skill levels.

Iconic routes like the 18-mile Tabeguache trail climb to jaw-dropping canyon vistas in the Bureau of Land Management’s McGinnis Canyons Wilderness Study area. Or opt for a family ride along the 6.5 mile Watson Wash route, flowing across slick rock canyon bottoms. With an endless network of trails, Kokopelli Loops lets mountain bikers and hikers explore the classic Western Slope landscape from red sandstone trails to sagebrush-dotted hills.

Try Local Brews in Palisade

Palisade, located just east of Grand Junction, has earned a reputation as Colorado’s Wine and Peach Capital. But it’s also home to several exceptional breweries, especially when it comes to fruit-forward sour beers perfect for the region’s fruit harvests. With fresh-picked Palisade peaches or other fruit purees, these tart brews offer a uniquely Colorado beverage experience.

At Peachfork Farmhouse Brewery, sours like the Peach American Wild capture the orchard’s essence in beer form. Talbott Farms Brewery concocts brews featuring their own fruit like the Desert Rose grape sour. Or stop by Palisade Brewing Company, one of the area’s original brewers, for peach beer classics as well as more adventurous varieties like a habenero peach ale.

Tour Historic Buildings on Main Street

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Main Street in downtown Grand Junction holds wonderful examples of early 20th century architecture. Take a self-guided walking tour to take in historic hotels, department stores, theaters, churches and commercial buildings from Grand Junction’s frontier era.

Standouts include the 1927 Avalon Theater known for its Egyptian Deco style and the 1910 DeVinny Jewelry Store building, still operating today. Pick up a Downtown Historical Buildings walking map from the Downtown Visitors Center highlighting 20 buildings from the late 1800s including Victorian, Italianate and Chicago styles. Understanding Grand Junction’s past through its historic buildings makes the city’s role in developing the West come alive.

See a Show at Two Rivers Convention Center

With over 44,000 square feet of flexible event space, Two Rivers Convention Center hosts concerts, theater performances, conferences and more in a contemporary riverfront venue. National music and comedy acts like Jerry Seinfeld, Willie Nelson and Cirque du Soleil tour through the 1,100-seat Performance Hall and Exhibition Hall.

The center also houses the Downtown Grand Junction Creative District’s City Center theater, gallery and special event spaces focused on the visual and performing arts. Don’t miss the ever-changing installations of COMIDA, Downtown Grand Junction’s outdoor street dining, art and event space.

Hike to Ute Indian Petroglyphs

Just 15 minutes from downtown, the vibrantly colored Ute Indian Petroglyphs contain intriguing evidence of prehistoric peoples passing through Grand Junction long before white settlement. The short hike leads to a sandstone wall covered in striking images like bighorn sheep, horses and teepees etched up to 2,000 years ago.

Unlike more formal sites, visitors are encouraged to touch the sandstone panels containing the historic rock art for a more intimate connection across the ages. The Petroglyphs site also offers panoramic views over the Bookcliffs mountain range and Colorado River Valley, indicating why native peoples chose this spot to leave their marks.

Shop and Graze on Main Street

Lined with historic storefronts, Main Street offers an eclectic mix of shopping, dining and nightlife options for a taste of Grand Junction food and culture. Funky shops like OtterBox, Austin Clothing Company and Enstrom Candies (don’t miss their mouthwatering almond toffee!) tempt shoppers with Western fashions and local treats.

For refreshments, cafes and wine bars like The Winery Restaurant, 626 Rood, and Dream Cafe serve house roasted brews, farm fresh entrees, and scrumptious desserts. And Munchin’ House, Sasquatch Tacos and Bin 707 Foodbar offer hip dining options from Latin street foods to upscale small plates. With so many culinary choices, Main Street offers delightful grazing and people watching perfect for whiling away an afternoon.

View Stars at the Museum of Western Colorado’s Astronomy Programs

Some of the West’s darkest night skies shine over Grand Junction, known for exceptional stargazing and astronomy. Take advantage by attending one of The Museum of Western Colorado’s astronomy programs held on select Friday evenings. These Star Parties include hands-on solar viewing plus access to their powerful 20 inch diameter telescope focused towards planets, star clusters, galaxies and nebulae.

During special Astronomy Nights, experience telescope viewing of seasonal highlights like Jupiter’s moons, Saturn’s rings, lunar craters and star clusters through museum grade equipment. Having local astronomers as guides makes understanding the cosmos above western Colorado even more illuminating.

Conclusion


Brimming with diverse landscapes, adventures and attractions from desert rivers to red rock trails to historic downtown streets, Grand Junction truly encapsulates the spirit and beauty of Colorado’s Western Slope region. Whether hiking to prehistoric petroglyphs, biking high desert vistas or wine tasting between fruit orchards, a visit here promises beautiful scenery and unique activities for all interests.

With an average of 300 days of sunshine a year and moderate climate, Grand Junction offers ideal weather to enjoy the numerous attractions and natural areas that abound. From the towering monoliths of Colorado National Monument to the calming riverside setting of downtown, Grand Junction is western Colorado’s basecamp for memorable outdoor recreation, culinary and cultural experiences.

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