From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Colorado’s Front Range may get all the glory, but the Western Slope is where it’s at. The heart of the state’s agriculture and home to some stunning mountain vistas and outdoor recreational opportunities in its own right, this part of Colorado is sadly under-explored… which is where we come in.
Even if you’ve called Grand Junction home for decades, there’s enough to see and do here to keep you busy for many more years. We’re willing to bet you haven’t seen it all yet, so we put together some of the top things to do and explore in Grand Junction this weekend — or whenever the urge strikes.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Colorful Colorado is well-known for its outdoor recreation opportunities — and Grand Junction is no different. Here are just a few of the state parks and national parks to check out in the Grand Junction, CO area.
Established more than 100 years ago in 1911, the Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grandest landscapes in the west: sheer-walled red-rock cliffs reach high above the lush canyons below, which is populated by bighorn sheep, eagles, and other local citizens. Known by some as the “heart of the world,” folks in Grand Junction are lucky to call this stunning countryside their literal backyard!
Actually made up of five distinct areas along the Colorado River — beautiful gems of landscapes Robb himself once referred to as a “string of pearls” — the James M Robb Colorado River State Park offers a lot of opportunity for outdoor lovers of all types, and also offers reservable, full-hookup campsites for RVers.
Just a half hour northwest of town, Highline Lake State Park is an important habitat for migratory birds — and a great place to soak up some sun while relaxing on the water. A variety of water-based sports, from paddleboarding to fishing to kayaking to skiing, are practiced by visitors, who also take to the trails for hiking and birdwatching. Located right off I-70, it’s easy to reach and the perfect place for a relaxing afternoon or weekend.
Colorado is a hiker’s paradise, and folks in Grand Junction are lucky to have such a wide array of places worth lacing up their boots for right in their backyard. Here are the very best hiking trails in the immediate Grand Junction, CO area. (There are plenty more beyond these, as well — be sure to check out some local literature or use an app like AllTrails to find the best spots!)
If you’re looking to get seriously out there, this is the spot. Rattlesnake Arches trail stretches more than 13 miles altogether and winds its way through more than 2,400 feet of elevation gain, making it a difficult and challenging hike, for sure. But if you’re ready to take it on, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views, beautiful wildflowers, and backpacking opportunities. (Just be sure to bring even more water than you think you need; this trail is very exposed and sunny and the creeks do dry up seasonally.)
One of the many wonderful hiking opportunities nestled inside Colorado National Monument, Devils Kitchen Trail is a much more approachable adventure, with its trail measuring just over a mile altogether and seeing only 320 feet of elevation gain. It’s not a completely flat walk — most visitors rank it as “moderate” — but this trail is a great opportunity for relative newcomers to hiking who still want to get some great views for their efforts.
This canyon is, indeed, so stunning it could be considered monumental — and Monument Canyon Loop Trail is a great way to have a look. Running four and a half miles altogether and seeing less than a thousand feet in elevation gain, this hike will definitely help you work up a sweat, but won’t leave you gasping. It can, however, get exceptionally hot — so again, be sure you’re prepared.
Running only two-and-a-half miles out-and-back and seeing less than 300 feet in elevation change, Mica Mines Trail is considered an easy hike by Colorado standards, and is also dog friendly (though pups must be kept on leash). Relatively quick and painless, this is a great opportunity to get outside at the last minute.
Another relatively easy option, Canyon Rim Trail to Window Rock runs less than two miles all told and sees less than 250 feet of elevation change, and still offers some of the most beautiful views in the area. Introduce yourself to Colorado National Monument with this walk, and then slowly work your way up to the more challenging options.
With all the adventuring there is to do in this area, outdoor and otherwise, you’re gonna need to fuel up! Here are some of the very best restaurants in Grand Junction, whether you’re in the mood for Italian, Mexican, Indian — or something else altogether.
Whether it’s date night or just a night when you’d rather have someone else dish up the comfort food, Il Bistro Italiano is a Grand Junction classic that’s got you covered. Start with an antipasto board and finish with something sweet and succulent — that is, if you can bear to save enough room after devouring the main course!
Considered by many locals to offer the next Mexican food in all of Grand Junction, Aztecas Family Mexican Restaurant actually offers guests two convenient locations to choose from — so you’re never too far from the best burrito or enchilada you’ve had in your life. Enjoy one of their range of delicious tequilas alongside your meal — delicioso!
Known for its wide range of delicious dishes, Nepal Restaurant is one of the best Indian restaurants in Grand Junction, serving Nepalese cuisine as well (as their name implies). Located in the heart of the action on Main Street, this is the perfect place to stop for a quick lunch or a leisurely dinner.
Dishing up fresh, plant-based eats with ingredients sourced from sustainable, local operations, Cafe Sol is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Grand Junction that will leave a smile even on the carnivores’ faces. What’s more, many of their menu options can be made gluten free, making this a joint that’s friendly for every eater.
Sometimes, the best food comes from the most unassuming locations. Dragon Treasure Chinese Restaurant certainly isn’t fussy, but the meals are undeniably good — well made and fresh, and served in generous portions. Choose from a wide range of favorites or try something new; either way, you’re bound to be satisfied.
You’ve been well fed and enjoyed some outside time — but your Grand Junction experience is just at its start! Here are some of the top things to do, see, and explore in Grand Junction, no matter what your circumstances or desires.
Grand Junction is a great place to venture with the kiddos. Here are some of the activities that’ll intrigue them.
Although it’s technically at the next town over in Fruita, the Dinosaur Journey Museum is a worthy pastime for any family — because what kid doesn’t love dinosaurs? (Heck, what adult doesn’t love dinosaurs?) Enjoy thousands of specimens of actual, factual dinosaur bones, many of which were collected from the American west.
Is there any surer way to put a smile on a kid’s face than by letting them watch a herd of wild horses canter around the fields? The Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range is less than 10 miles from Grand Junction, and is also a great place to spot elk, turkeys, mule deer, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, bobcats and bears. Wild!
Sure, there’s no shortage of things to do during the daytime in Grand Junction… but what about at night? Don’t worry, it doesn’t all end once the sun goes down! Here are some of the top options.
Want to skip bar hopping… to do some actual hopping? The Silo is an indoor trampoline park that’s open until 9 p.m., meaning you (and your family!) can bounce yourself to oblivion until well after sunset. The Silo also hosts birthday parties, offers indoor rock climbing, and more. In other words, it’s anything but boring!
You don’t have to go all the way to California to enjoy some fresh, delicious local wines. In fact, Colorado makes some of the finest wines in the west — and you can kick back and have a sip (or several) at one of the many wine tasting rooms in and around Grand Junction. (Just a few options to get you started: Mesa Park Vineyards, Two Rivers Winery and Chateau, Red Fox Cellars)
It can be a challenge to explore a local area on a budget… but it doesn’t have to be in Grand Junction! Here are some of our favorite things to do on a shoestring.
Grand Junction’s Main Street is chock-a-block full of art galleries, eateries, pubs, tattoo shops and more. You can catch live music, enjoy a freshly-made meal, or even just go window shopping — none of it will cost you too much! (Well, except maybe a long night at the bar. 😉 )
In a city that’s so well-known for its beautiful outdoor spaces, it’s no surprise that outdoor markets are a popular diversion. Plus, who doesn’t love delicious, fresh produce offered by real farmers who make an honest living growing your food for you? There are several Farmers Markets in Grand Junction held seasonally and in different parts of town. The Market on Main, for instance, runs Thursday evenings from July through September. Click here for a more extensive list of markets in town.
Exploring the area for absolutely no charge? We’re into it! Here are some of the very best free things to do in Grand Junction.
If your kids (or you) couldn’t get enough of the Dinosaur Journey Museum, you’re going to love Dinosaur Hill Trail — a quick jaunt of less than a mile’s length, but one where actual, factual dinosaur fossils have been discovered! The trail is helpfully marked with fun and easy-to-read interpretive signage that teaches you and your family about the history of the area and the dinosaurs who once roamed the landscape. Plus, it only costs the steps you take to see it!
Another awesome and free option for those interested in seeing some incredible sights in the great outdoors, the Ute Petroglyph Trail features some ancient Petroglyphs left behind by the Ute tribe of Native Americans. At just about three miles in length, the trail is considered “moderate,” and you’ll want to be sure you bring some water… and a camera, to capture the beautiful artifacts you’ll find.
Even the most avid adventurers need some “me time” now and then. Here are the best spas and salons in Grand Junction to head to when it’s time for some pampering.
Sometimes, a touch of tranquility is exactly what you need — and Tranquility Day Spa is the perfect place to get just that. Offering a wide range of soothing services such as massage, hot stone treatments, reflexology, facials, scalp treatments and even more, this spa is where serenity meets beauty and wellness.
It might be a big day… or it might just be Tuesday. Either way, you deserve to be celebrated, and Salon Capelli will help you get dolled up to do so. Offering hair styling, color, smoothing treatments and perms, this is the best place in town to get your new “do.” They also offer facials, eyelash extensions, and brow tinting!
Getting to the gym on a regular basis will help your clothes fit better, sure — but it’ll also help you feel stronger, more confident, and more relaxed in your body. Here are the best places to get your sweat on in Grand Junction.
No matter what your goals may be, the kind and professional trainers at Mesa Fitness Grand Junction can help you achieve them. This straightforward gym is stocked with all the equipment you need to get where you’re going, from cardio machines to free weights and not to mention motivating and fun group classes.
Your yoga class should ignite your brain and your body and make you feel powerful and grounded — and the friendly practitioners at Half Moon Yoga are standing by to help you achieve just that. The infrared-heated studio can help you sweat and heal in a safe and empowering environment, and a range of classes, including yin, are offered.
Another great option for those looking for yoga studios in Grand Junction, Yoga V Studio is a chic, boutique affair that offers retail space at the front and a beautiful, well-appointed classroom in the back. Classes include heated and non-heated flow as well as deep stretch and gentle yoga, making it accessible for all different needs and bodies.
One of the best parts of Grand Junction? How close it is to a range of other amazing places to see, play and stay! Here are some of the best options in the Grand Junction area for a day trip — or even a weekend getaway.
Come on — you can’t call yourself a Coloradan if you’ve never visited Rocky Mountain National Park. Sure, it’s touristy… but it’s also vast and wild, which means there are definitely a ton of trails and adventures that aren’t on the average tourist’s itinerary. Check out our full guide here.
While you’re headed toward the state’s best-known national park, you’ve also got to check out its capital city. Grab a new novel and a cup of joe at the Tattered Cover, wander Larimer Square, or gaze at the range of artworks inside the Denver Art Museum. It’s all good! Check out our full Denver guide here.
Known as a gateway to adventure in its own right, Moab is the perfect place to spend a weekend — or maybe a whole week, on second thought. After all, the quaint downtown is fun to check out and full of restaurants, outfitters and bookstores… but the real stars of the show are the not one, but two beautiful national parks in its backyard, Arches and Canyonlands. (Yeah, you’re going to need longer than a weekend.)
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Grand Junction that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Grand Junction? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.