Grand Junction is located in Mesa County, about 250 miles west-southwest of Denver, at the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers. The town is an ideal base for exploring the wealth of outdoor activities on offer in the Colorado National Monument and surrounding areas. You can spend days getting back to nature along a vast network of hiking and biking trails, go whitewater rafting, boating, or kayaking in James. M. Robb State Park, or spend a few days learning about the history and culture of the area at the Museums of Western Colorado. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Colorado National Monument
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One of the highlights of a visit to Grand Junction is the chance to visit the Colorado National Monument, where a stunning landscape of red rock formations awaits you. The majestic rock formations are believed to vary in age between 140 million years to over one billion years and bear testimony to the fascinating effects of erosion. There are several canyons to be explored as you drive or cycle along Rim Rock Drive or set off on foot along the vast network of hiking trails. You can pick up maps and watch a short orientation film at the Saddlehorn Visitor's Center, which is located close to the Saddlehorn Campground, where you can pitch your tent.
Colorado National Monument, 1750 Rim Rock Drive, Fruita, CO 81521, Phone: 970-858-3617
2.The Children's Nature Center
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For a fun and educational family day out, you can head to The Children’s Nature Center in Grand Junction to see a wide variety of creatures great and small in a naturalistic setting. The CNC is the only living museum in the area and is home to over 120 animals, reptiles, insects, and marine creatures. The center has both freshwater and marine tanks in which you can see everything from giant stingrays to minute seahorses and colorful corals. Children will have the chance to see what some of these amazing creatures feel like at the petting tank. The reptile collection includes many snakes, lizards, and amphibious creatures, including a huge python and tiny frogs. Docent-led tours are available.
The Children's Nature Center (CNC), Mesa Mall, 2424 Hway 6 & 50, Grand Junction, CO 81505, Phone: 970-241-1000
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The historic Avalon Theater is located in downtown Grand Junction, less than a half-mile from the Two Rivers Convention Center. The theater, which was built in 1923, has been lovingly restored to its original grandeur and is one of the largest performing arts venues in Colorado. The Avalon hosts a regular line-up of first-run movies, independent productions, and foreign films. In addition, the theater hosts theatrical performances, music and other concerts, and dance recitals. The massive theater, which boasts excellent acoustics, can seat over 1,000 guests and has an impressive layout that ensures that everyone has a great view of the stage.
Avalon Theater, 645 Main Street, Grand Junction, CO 81501, Phone: 970-778-3088
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4.Museums of Western Colorado
© Museums of Western Colorado
The Museum of Western Colorado comprises three separate museum facilities as well as four outdoor paleontology sites, where you can personally dig for fossils and relics. The Museum of the West documents Native American history and culture as well as Spanish exploration, and features a wealth of other exhibits. You can visit the Wild West Technology exhibit along with various audio stations as you make your way around this interesting and educational museum. The Dinosaur Journey Museum will teach you all you ever wanted to know about the Jurassic Age, while the Cross Orchards Museum documents farming during the pioneer days of the early 1900s. Budding archaeologists can sign up for one-day or multi-day digs in the paleontology sites, where you have the chance to find dinosaur bones, teeth, and much more.
Museums of Western Colorado:
The Museum of the West, 462 Ute Ave, Grand Junction, CO 81501, Phone: 970-242-0971
Dinosaur Journey Museum, 550 Jurassic Court, Fruita, CO 81521, Phone: 970-858-7282
Cross Orchards Museum, 3073 F Road, Grand Junction, CO 81504, Phone: 970-434-9814
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5.Colorado's Wine Country
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Although it's hard to believe that an area better known for skiing and mountaineering can be coaxed into producing great wines, Colorado's Wine Country is home to over 80 individual wineries and includes the highest-altitude vineyards in the U.S. The best time to visit Colorado's Wine Country is late March to May, when the harvest has taken place and many of the wineries offer spring tastings and food and wine pairings. To enjoy a wider range of tastings you can visit in September during the annual Colorado Mountain Winefest. You can take a one-day or multi-day self-guided tour of the area or sign up for a guided tour and leave the driving to someone else.
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6.Cross Orchards Historic Site
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At the Cross Orchards Historic Site, you can take a step back in time to see how the pioneering settlers lived and farmed back in the early 1900s. Back then, the orchards, comprising 22,000 fruit trees, were operated as an agricultural showcase, and today you will be able to watch costumed guides as they go about their regular farming chores. There are several historical buildings to see, including the kitchen, pantry, and cook's quarters. You will also be able to see the historic Uintah Railway exhibit, with a recreated train depot and some of the rolling stock. In addition, the Swanson display showcases farming equipment, household goods, and a collection of horse-drawn tools.
Cross Orchards Historic Site, 3073 F Road, Grand Junction, CO 81504, Phone: 970-434-9814
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7.Grand Junction Motor Speedway
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Grand Junction Motor Speedway is one of the best kart racing tracks in the US and promises hours of fun for both racing enthusiasts and families. There are rental karts for just about all ages (5 years upwards), and the regular race events are thrilling to watch. The GJMS has tracks to excite even the most adventurous karters, including a supercross track, a mud dragway, and a rally cross track. In addition, motorheads can access a range of on-site services, including engine re-builds, seat mounting, and even chassis rebuilds. The GJMS hosts racing events from around April to November each year, so be sure to schedule your visit during that time.
Grand Junction Motor Speedway, 3002 NI 70 Frontage Rd, Grand Junction, CO 81504, Phone: 970-256-0107
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8.James M. Robb-Colorado River State Park
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In 2005 the Colorado River State Park was renamed to honor the vision of James M. Robb, who was largely instrumental in planning this wonderful outdoor recreational facility, which welcomes locals and visitors to come and get back to nature. The park encompasses five distinct areas (Island Acres, Corn Lake, Colorado River Wildlife Area, Connected Lakes, and Fruita), all of which you can explore over a few days by camping in one of several serviced campgrounds while you indulge in a multitude of outdoor activities. Boating, kayaking, whitewater rafting, fishing, and swimming are some of the water-based activities available, while cycling, hiking, birdwatching, and picnicking are popular with those who prefer to keep their feet dry. In winter you can enjoy snowmobiling and ice fishing.
9.Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area
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Within just 8 miles of Grand Junction you can visit the Little Book Cliffs, where it is still possible to see wild horses running free as nature intended. The Wild Horse Area covers over 36,000 acres of wilderness, encompassing rugged canyons, valleys, and plateaus. You can explore the area on foot along a network of scenic hiking trails all year round, and much of the area is accessible via 4X4 for most of the year. The roads are closed from December to May each year to protect foaling areas. The best time to spot the horses – there are about 90 to 150 wild horses in the area – is early morning and late afternoon. Another option is to explore the area on horseback along the equestrian trails.
Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area, Grand Junction, CO, Phone: 970-244-3000
10.The Winery Restaurant
© The Winery Restaurant
For over 40 years the Winery Restaurant has been tantalizing taste buds in the heart of Grand Junction's historic downtown. The multi-award winning restaurant is housed in a 90-year-old building that was once the home of the city's horse-drawn fire brigade and combines lovely old architectural elements with all the essential modern touches one would expect in a fine dining establishment. You can expect a warm welcome on arrival and a selection of beautifully prepared dishes, hand-crafted using the best available ingredients and accompanied by your choice of wine from the extensive wine list. The restaurant has a great ambiance, professional staff, and a long list of regular diners.
The Winery Restaurant, 642 Main St, In The Breezeway, Grand Junction, CO 81501, Phone: 970-242-4100
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11.Tiara Rado Golf Course
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Golfers of all abilities will find the Tiara Rado Golf Course a pleasure to play. The scenic 18-hole course lies at the foothills of the Colorado National Monument, offering great views of the Grand Mesa as you make your way from hole to hole. The course offers four tee areas (to suit everyone from beginners to pros), plenty of challenging water hazards and bunkers, and a large practice area. You can hire pull-carts, golf carts, and rental clubs at the pro shop, and lessons are available if you would like to improve your golfing skills. After your game you can relax at The Rock Bar and Grill.
Tiara Rado Golf Course, 2057 South Broadway, Grand Junction, CO 81501, Phone: 970-254-3830
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12.Trailhead Coffee Bar and Cafe
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Conveniently located just a few miles from the Colorado National Monument, the Trailhead Coffee Bar and Café is the perfect go-to spot for hungry hikers, bikers, and 4X4 explorers. The cafe has a full espresso bar where you can order your favorite coffee, freshly brewed using high-quality organic coffee beans. You can get your day off to the best possible start by enjoying a tasty breakfast (served all day) and the necessary caffeine kick to set you up for an energetic day on the trails. After your adventure you can replenish depleted energy stores with another great cup of coffee and a well-deserved healthy lunch or snack.
Trailhead Coffee Bar and Café, 413 Monument Rd, Grand Junction, CO 81507, Phone: 907-314-3135
13.Western Colorado Botanical Gardens
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Located on a verdant 15-acre site along the banks of the Colorado River, the Western Colorado Botanical Garden will thrill all nature lovers and gardening enthusiasts. Regardless of the season, you will always find something in bloom in one or more of the three themed gardens, which include the lush Rainforest Garden, where you can see exotic orchids, bananas and chili peppers. In the Shoren Eu Garden you can admire a variety of wildlife, including turtles and koi fish, while Ernie's Cactus and Succulent Garden showcases many indigenous Colorado desert-adapted plants. The gardens host regular events throughout the year – you can check the schedule on their website.
Western Colorado Botanical Gardens, 641 Struthers Ave, Grand Junction, CO 81501, Phone: 970-245-3288
14.Grand Junction Food Tours
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Joining a Grand Junction Food Tour has to be the tastiest way to learn about the history and culture of downtown Grand Junction. You will have the chance to meet some of the city's most popular chefs and restaurateurs, taste delicious food and drinks, and listen to interesting anecdotes about the city as you satisfy your taste buds. Grand Junction Food Tours are presented every Saturday at 2.00pm, but private tours can be booked if you are not going to be in town on a Saturday. We suggest that you go on the food tour at the beginning of your Grand Junction vacation so that you can make a list of favorite places to return to.
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15.Kannah Creek Brewing Company
© Kannah Creek Brewing Company
From humble beginnings in 2005 the Kannah Creek Brewing Company now have three separate brew pubs in the Grand Junction area, where you can enjoy unique Colorado craft beers and all-American food. The company pride themselves on crafting their beers using the pure, untouched snow-melt waters of the Kannah Creek, and each of their three pubs offers an ideal place to relax with friends while enjoying great beer and good food. The original brew pub in 12th Street still produces great brick-oven pizzas, and all three venues offer a full menu of meals and snacks using locally sourced ingredients, all accompanied by delicious on-tap craft brews.
Kannah Creek Brewing Company, 960 N. 12th St, Grand Junction, CO 81501, Phone: 970-263-0111
16.Kiln Coffee Bar
© Kiln Coffee Bar
When it's time to take a coffee break you can head to Kiln Coffee Bar at 326 Main Street to sample some brilliant hand-crafted coffee from one of Colorado's best roasters. The family-owned coffee bar is proud to offer visitors a seasonally rotating selection of Colorado's best coffees. Not only can you choose your favorite beans, but you can also choose how you would like to have it brewed – popular brewing methods include the traditional espresso machine, French press, Aeropress, and regular filtered coffee. (You can also choose your creamer – milk, cream, soya-milk, almond-milk, etc.). If you are feeling hungry, you can grab a fresh pastry to go with your fragrant coffee.
Kiln Coffee Bar, 326 Main Street, Grand Junction, CO 81501, Phone: 970-644-5990
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17.626 on Rood
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At 626 on Rood, foodies can enjoy a variety of innovative New American menus accompanied by an extensive selection of fine wines, beers, and spirits produced by personally selected wineries and breweries. 626 pride themselves on allowing guests to sample obscure vineyards and varietals and serve many of their wines by the glass, flight, or carafe so that you are free to try several different styles and flavors. If you visit during Social Hour (3:00pm to 5.30pm every day) you can order tasty light meals from the Portion and More or Social Hour menus, while the dinner menu offers elegant salads, entrees, and mains, all freshly prepared from scratch.
626 on Rood, 626 Rood Ave, Grand Junction, CO 81501, Phone: 970-257-7663
18.Adventure Bound USA
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You know you are going to be in good hands when you book your Colorado rafting adventure with Adventure Bound USA, which has been thrilling visitors for over 50 years. The company is based in Grand Junction and offers a variety of day trips and multi-day rafting adventures through some of the most scenic canyons and gorges in Colorado. One of the most popular rafting destinations is the Yampa River, which flows through the Dinosaur National Monument, where you can take a short hike to see ancient Native American sites. If you choose to raft the Green River, through the Lodore Canyon, you will traverse one of the most scenic stretches of river in the state.
Adventure Bound USA, 2392 H Road, Grand Junction, CO 81505, Phone: 800-423-4668
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19.At Your Pace Freestyle Riding Adventures
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Setting off on two wheels is without doubt one of the best ways to explore the remarkable Colorado landscape. Wine lovers can combine a leisurely cycle with some great wine tasting on the Classic Palisade Wine Country Guided Tour, which is offered from April to September. You can choose from one-day or multi-day tours and hybrid/electric bikes are available if you are worried about your fitness levels. After your bike fitting, you will set off with your guide to cycle along scenic country roads that wind gently through the heart of Colorado Wine Country. After passing beautiful fruit orchards and vineyards, you will be treated to a private wine tasting, cellar tour, and lunch. After lunch you will continue your discovery of Colorado's finest vineyards and wines.
At Your Pace Freestyle Riding Adventures, Palisade, Grand Junction, CO 81502, Phone: 970-776-0181
20.Colorado Riverfront Trail
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You can uncover some of the best scenery in Colorado as you make your way along the One Riverfront Trail system, which preserves and showcases a wide variety of landscapes and habitats along the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers. The trails are suitable for walking, hiking, and cycling, but no motorized vehicles (with the exception of wheelchairs) are allowed. The Riverfront Trail is divided into five separate sections, and if you want to complete the entire trail, you need to prepare for a 60-mile round-trip. Birdwatchers and nature-lovers will have the chance to spot over 200 species of birds and a wide variety of small animals.
The trail is open all year round and guided tours are available.
One Riverfront, 544 Rood Ave, Grand Junction, CO 81501, Phone: 970-683-4333
20 Best Things to Do in Grand Junction, Colorado
- Colorado National Monument, Photo: Courtesy of Tristan - Fotolia.com
- The Children's Nature Center, Photo: Courtesy of David - Fotolia.com
- Avalon Theater, Photo: Courtesy of razoomanetu - Fotolia.com
- Museums of Western Colorado, Photo: Museums of Western Colorado
- Colorado's Wine Country, Photo: Courtesy of David Gn - Fotolia.com
- Cross Orchards Historic Site, Photo: Cross Orchards Historic Site
- Grand Junction Motor Speedway, Photo: Courtesy of CesareAndrea - Fotolia.com
- James M. Robb-Colorado River State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Uwalthie Pic Project - Fotolia.com
- Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area, Photo: Courtesy of leppert0 - Fotolia.com
- The Winery Restaurant, Photo: The Winery Restaurant
- Tiara Rado Golf Course, Photo: Courtesy of StefanoT - Fotolia.com
- Trailhead Coffee Bar and Cafe, Photo: Trailhead Coffee Bar and Cafe
- Western Colorado Botanical Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of Sean - Fotolia.com
- Grand Junction Food Tours, Photo: Courtesy of annanahabed - Fotolia.com
- Kannah Creek Brewing Company, Photo: Kannah Creek Brewing Company
- Kiln Coffee Bar, Photo: Kiln Coffee Bar
- 626 on Rood, Photo: 626 on Rood
- Adventure Bound USA, Photo: Adventure Bound USA
- At Your Pace Freestyle Riding Adventures, Photo: Courtesy of Jim - Fotolia.com
- Colorado Riverfront Trail, Photo: Courtesy of Matt - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of amadeustx - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Western Colorado Botanical Garden
The Western Colorado Botanical Garden in Grand Junction is a stunning experience that visitors won’t need any prior education on gardening to enjoy. Guests will come away in awe of the colors and inspired by the beauty found in the many themed gardens located there. The botanical gardens encompass over 12 acres of land in Grand Junction, Colorado and were founded in 1994.
In 2003, the gardens expanded exponentially and now include more than 10 different and unique gardens and a greenhouse that was repurposed in downtown Grand Junction. They plan to continue to expand and offer even more gardens and events. They are open to the public and non-for-profit, so all admission costs, memberships, and gift shop purchases go back into the botanical gardens day to day operations.
The cost of admission to the botanical gardens is a set price for adults with a discounted admission cost for military, students, seniors and an even lower admission cost for children ages 3 through 12. Children 2 and under are admitted free.
They also offer memberships to guests who plan to visit the botanical gardens multiple times over the course of a year, which allow visitors to pay a single flat rate for unlimited access. Not only does a membership allow admission to Western Colorado, but also to over 300 other gardens across the nation. Guests with memberships also receive 10% off at the gift shop.
The garden is closed on Sundays and Mondays and open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8am to 4pm. Hours may vary in winter so check with the staff before a visit to verify that they are open.
The landscaping that makes up the gardens are considered living and breathing displays that were designed to change with the seasons to allow guests a unique experience every season they visit.
Rainforest Beauty- The beautiful Pacific coastal region is represented in this lush rainforest that guests can enjoy all year round. Make sure not to miss the chile peppers, banana tree, and orchids.
Shoren Eu Garden- This outdoor garden focuses on the breathtaking views and outdoor wildlife like turtles and koi fish swimming in the pond under lily pads. The garden exudes peace.
Ernie’s Cactus Garden- One of the fan favorites, the succulent and cactus garden features some of the finest specimens in the whole valley. With cold-hardy cacti and succulents well as many plants native to the area, guests should make sure to watch out for spines!
Children’s Secret Garden- Specially designed for children, this “secret” garden is meant to awe, inspire, and educate children about the fun and importance of gardening!
Native Garden- This garden is a miniature version of Grand Valley in Colorado, complete with Grand Mesa, Mount Garfield, and the national monument. The live plantings represent each of the 13 different geological zones in the Western Colorado area.
The gardens also own a repurposed site in the downtown area that used to be filled with junk, like car parts, dead batteries, and used tires. That site now houses a 4000 square foot butterfly house and greenhouse, that showcases over 600 different orchids and a variety of other tropical plants from all over the world.
The botanical gardens feature a collection of different venues meant to suit every need, from weddings and receptions to birthday parties, baby showers, and even business meetings. Visitors who are interested in renting out any portion of the botanical gardens should contact the staff and schedule a consultation and tour, both of which are offered totally free of charge. The botanical gardens offer both indoor and outdoor venues that are customizable to any special day and the staff is happy to work with people to cater to their specific needs.
There are also several community garden events that are held on the premises throughout the year. Keep an eye on the website for additional information included dates, times, additional cost, and type of event. One of the favorite offerings is the summer concert series, which offers a variety of different musical genres. They are always looking for additional acts as well, so guests who are interested in potentially playing the Garden Groove should contact the staff for more information as well.
The botanical gardens operate a small gift shop on the premises. The gift shop carries a small variety of garden themed merchandise including items to garden at home, apparel, bumper stickers, and gardening books as well as children’s toys. Purchases go back into supporting the care of the botanical gardens.
Western Colorado Botanical Garden, 641 Struthers Avenue, Grand Junction, CO, 81501, Phone: 970-245-3288
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