In planning our trip to Moab for a week of trails, I was informed we MUST stop in Grand Junction. It turns out the things to do in Grand Junction far exceeded my expectations and not I’m here to tell you…yup, you must stop!
A few of the big reasons:
- See wild horses
- Experience the Colorado National Monument
- Explore the tons of trails
- Test out the waterski park
- Taste test some wine at the vineyards
- Say hello to Alpacas
- Pick your own fruit at the orchards
We weren’t able to pack everything in to our short trip, so a second trip is already in the works. This is roughly a 3 1/2 hour drive from Denver through the beautiful scenery that is Colorado.
Little Book Cliffs Wild Horses
I was absolutely determined to see these wild horses though all the directions I found were HORRIBLE and my husband was convinced this was going to end up as a disaster.
We came across a pack of 4 horses which include a very young one and they were beautiful.
Over 150 wild horses are in this area (one of only 4 in the US), but it covers 36,000 acres. So there’s no guarantee you’ll see them. However, everyone I’ve chatted with who went to this location has seen them.
As noted the hike is pretty easy, but still take your hydration pack because you don’t know how far you’ll go or how long you’ll hang out watching!
You can take that jeep road all the way down to the bottom of the canyon and it’s a pretty cool view.
Directions to Little Book Cliffs
Take the Cameo exit, which will go right and cross the Colorado River in front of a power plant. You’ll keep driving and see huge signs that you are entering a shooting range. Just keep going and stay to the right.
You’ll end up at the trailhead which is open year round.
There is a super easy hike and some much harder hikes…luckily we saw the horses from the easy hike! You’ll take off up the trailhead and upon reaching the cliffs go right which turns in to a bit of a rocky jeep road eventually.
Mountain Bike Trail System
Since our trip was focused on mountain biking and trail running, it’s no surprise that after a quick swing through the cute restaurants downtown we were on the hunt for trails.
Very near to town is a huge parking lot that leads in to a great trail system. It’s not closed to runners, so there were a few of us out there, but without headphones because I know this is not my space.
What I really enjoyed was the huge variety of trails. A beginner can learn on some loops (where I was running) and more experienced riders can have some serious fun too (my husband).
- We were there on a grey day, but the colors were still really cool in person
- Trails are very well marked
- There’s a restroom at the trailhead and as noted a large parking lot
- A paved path also runs from here back to town, so I played on that as well
Colorado National Monument
Possibly the biggest surprise of our trip for me was the Colorado National Monument.
It reminded me of a mini Grand Canyon and I simply didn’t realize that existed in CO.
You have a number of options for exploring the park.
- There’s a drive that will take you around the rim with LOTS of places to stop
- Pull over at the different outlooks and walk a few steps to take photos, see how it looks different from every angle
- Watch for big horned sheep, they were hiding in the rocks but super fun to find
- Grab a map when you pay to enter the park ($25) and you’ll see a number of available hikes as well
- You can do a little .25 mile hike at some stops or go big and hike all the way to the bottom and back out
- We entered from the Grand Junction side, which meant the visitors center was at the end of our drive and that was just fine
It can certainly get busy, but we found a week day morning around 11 worked pretty darn well. It was easy to find a spot at all the outlooks and feel like we had the place to ourselves.
Kokapelli Trail System
Mountain bikers flock to Fruita which is just outside of Grand Junction for these trails.
As a non-mountain biker, I’m terrified…as the wife of a man who loves it, I was thrilled to see all the bikers out in groups and truly their joy. No competition, no worries about time, they just wanted to explore.
He said that it never felt crowded and that’s a plus when you want to crank through the uphills and embrace the whoosh of the down.
The trails over some incredible views of the bluffs, the red rocks and Colorado River below.
We have a few things to do in Grand Junction left on our list like the orchards and alpacas, so you’ll be seeing us back out this way next year.
The trails were fabulous and there’s the Colorado River Front path that runs for miles and miles, making it an easy place for a beach cruiser or my marathon long run!
From here we continued our active vacation to Moab!
Checkout our Things to Do in Moab >>
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Things to do in Grand Junction | Active Travel Fun is written by amanda for www.runtothefinish.com