Grand Junction and the Western Slope region are prime territory for outdoor activity. If you’re looking for amazing rock formations and stunning panoramic views, check out these ten trails for a few ideas to get you started.
1. Devil’s Kitchen
This easy hike in Colorado National Monument is about 1.5 miles out and back, and its name comes from the long hallway lined with walls of tall boulder formations, which also offers some amazing views of the surrounding valley. Devil’s Kitchen is a popular trail because it can be accessed by hikers of all ability levels, and also because it offers some fun opportunities for bouldering and rock scrambling.
2. Rattlesnake Canyon Arches Trail
This gorgeous trail has the most natural arches anywhere in the U.S. besides Arches National Park, and also features natural spires, windows, and amazing views. If your car has four-wheel drive and you can make it to the parking lot at the trailhead, the hike is about seven miles out and back, but if you can’t manage the roads, you’re looking at a (still beautiful!) trek of almost 15 miles.
3. Mount Garfield
Located about ten miles from Grand Junction, Mount Garfield is a great way to train before hitting your first 14er. At two miles in length, it’s not a long hike, but there is an elevation gain of about 2,000 feet, so it’s a great way to work on those leg muscles while climbing a unique mountain that not only has views of the surrounding area, but some really cool fossils among the rock.
4. Serpents Trail
This out-and-back trail in Colorado National Monument is great because it can be as easy or as difficult as you like, with opportunities for scrambling and bouldering along the way. At 3.7 miles, the trail is wide and easy to follow for beginners, and it showcases some pretty views of the Bookcliffs, Mt. Garfield, and the valley.
5. No Thoroughfare Canyon
This hike in Colorado National Monument clocks in at just over five and a half miles, and along the way you’ll find some gorgeous pools and waterfalls.
6. Escalante Petroglyphs
Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area is an easy drive from Grand Junction, and hiking in Escalante Canyon will lead you on a 1.5-mile out and back trail to some amazing ancient petroglyphs.
7. Tabeguache Trail
This one’s not for beginners due to the difficult terrain and a trail that is sometimes difficult to follow, but Tabeguache Trail has some beautiful views and, in the right time of year, some gorgeous wildflowers. It’s part of the massive Kokopelli Trail, which is 142 miles long.
8. Trail Through Time
The Trail Through Time, located in Rabbit Valley, is a loop trail, about 1.5 miles long, that passes through an active quarry of dinosaur fossils which is still being excavated.
9. Crag Crest Loop
Crag Crest is about 50 miles from Grand Junction, so it’s a bit of a longer drive, but the scenery of mountains, rivers, wildflowers, and Grand Mesa National Forest are gorgeous, and on a clear day, the 11,000 foot summit offers views for over a hundred miles.
10. Monument Canyon Trail
11.4 miles of wildflowers, unique rock formations, and amazing canyon views make this hike a must-try. There is a lot of wildlife on this trail, and most hikers will spot the bighorn sheep who live in the area and sometimes keep hikers company.
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