Surrounded by some of the most fantastic – and fantastical – landscape on the continent, Grand Junction is a study in contrasts. It’s here in far western Colorado that the Colorado River meets up with the Gunnison and flows on to the Gulf of California. Even with the two rivers’ confluence, much of the area is desert-like. But it also boasts abundant fruit tree orchards, vegetable farms and an increasingly fruitful wine industry.
Off to the west of the city, where the desert gets serious, visitors encounter jutting spires, enormous domes and yawning, mysterious canyons of the awesome Colorado Monument, but just a short drive to the southeastern hem of the city is the much cooler, much higher pine and aspen forested wilderness of Grand Mesa, the largest flattop mountain in the world.
Oh, and to the north is a moonscape of weathered rock known as the Book Cliffs.
You’ll find much in the way of water sports – there’s plenty of fishing both on the Mesa and the Gunnison; the Colorado is great for guided white water raft trips that can be expanded to include kayaking.
Mountain biking is unparalleled no matter which direction you go; hiking is likewise an adventure waiting while you to lace your boots; horseback riding can take you through lush forests atop the Mesa or into a shadow-filled canyon. Climbing enthusiasts will enjoy mountain climbing, bouldering, canyoneering – the challenges change with the topography.
And don’t forget you can get off the beaten path and go four-wheeling as well.
Downtown is a charming mix of old and new, Western and college town. There are enough restaurants to give you ample choices in cuisine and appointment; shopping is just as adventurous as you might expect in a town that continues to spread its wings culturally. It’s eclectic but at the same time reassuringly peaceful – and there is absolutely no end to the outdoor activities you can enjoy.
Music at Colorado Mesa University is a series of more than three dozen concerts; the Math & Science Center features more than 150 interactive exhibits geared for kids; Western Colorado Center for the Arts features exhibits and educational programs; and you can cheer on the boys of summer at a Grand Junction Rockies Minor League baseball game!
If that’s not enough, go fly a kite – or, better yet, go for a helicopter tour and get a bird’s eye view of beautiful Grand Junction.