The Book Cliffs are a range of eroding, steep-sloping cliffs, also called escarpments. Stretching 200 miles from Grand Junction, Colorado to central Utah, the Book Cliffs are the world’s largest continuous escarpment. This geological wonder cuts through beautiful desert terrain and parallels steep canyons and raging rivers, making it a year-round destination for scenic viewing, hiking, camping and rafting below.

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Colorful Mt. Garfield and the Bookcliffs in Western Colorado. Photo Credit: MGSmith (iStock).

Named for its similar appearance to a stack of books lined up against a shelf, the Book Cliffs are one of the most well-known locations for studying sequence stratigraphy. The shale and Cretaceous sandstone cliffs, formed over time by the Uncompahgre Uplift, are a remnant of the Mancos Sea floor.

One of the most popular hikes on the Book Cliffs is to the top of Mount Garfield. This 3.6 mile out-and-back hike takes you 2,000 feet above the town of Palisade, right outside of Grand Junction. From the trailhead, right off of I-70, you’ll meander up a steep, shale trail and catch incredible views of the Grand Mesa and the town of Palisade with its rows of vineyards and orchards.

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Books Cliff View Overlook, Colorado National Monument.

On the way up Mount Garfield, be on the lookout for wild horses. The hike sits on the 36,113-acre Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range that provides free roaming and protection over herds of wild horses. To prevent overpopulation, every 3-4 years, the Bureau of Land Management rounds up to 60 horses and places them in a wild horse adoption program.

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Wildlife, including mule deer, elk, wild turkey, coyote, various raptors, mountain lion, black bear, rattlesnake, and fox, populate the wilderness areas along the Book Cliffs. The abundant wildlife draws thousands of hunters to the backcountry areas of the Book Cliffs for big-game hunting.

For one of the best scenic overlooks of the Book Cliffs, drive up the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive Scenic Byway and pull-off at the Book Cliffs View Overlook.  

There are several places to camp along the Book Cliffs. If you are near Grand Junction, the Fruita Campground or Island Acres Campground, both in James M. Robb- Colorado River State Park, are great options.

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