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Grand Junction, Colorado is one well-known town that already exists on the Western slope.

Things to do in Grand Junction

Grand Junction, the largest city in western Colorado, straddles the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers and is a recreational paradise. You can visit Grand Junction in the winter for a morning ski at Powderhorn Mountain Resort, an afternoon hike up a sandstone canyon at Colorado National Monument, and an evening wine tasting in Palisade. The city also makes a central base camp to explore western Colorado, with the San Juan Mountains and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park an hour south on U.S. 50 and Moab’s red-rock country a couple hours west off I-70 in Utah.

Colorado National Monument, the area’s best natural wonder, is laced with superb trails, including Monument Canyon Trail and Liberty Cap Trail, and numerous scenic overlooks, such as Grand View Overlook, Cold Shivers Point, and Independence Monument View Overlook. Saddlehorn Campground offers 80 scenic campsites near an informative visitor center. Colorado National Monument protects spectacular canyons, which offer climbing routes up towers like Independence Monument, Sentinel Spire, and The Kissing Couple. Road bikers and sightseers enjoy riding and driving 23-mile Rim Rock Drive from Junction to Fruita.

Fruita, a town along I-70 west of Grand Junction, is western Colorado’s premier mountain bike destination with rides for every skill level. The 18 Roads Trail Area in North Fruita Desert Area is one of the best pedal spots. Best rides include two-mile Joe’s Ridge, 28-mile Edge Loop, and 6.7-mile Zippity Do Da. For more fun, check out Highline Lake Trail, Rabbit Valley Trails, Powderhorn Trails, and 142-mile Kokopelli Trail from Loma to Moab.

Hikers love Grand Junction. Trails, ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous, thread through canyons and climb to viewpoints around town. The Mount Garfield Trail ascends to a spectacular overlook on its 6,765-foot summit above Palisade. Intrepid hikers can trek to hidden arches in Rattlesnake Canyon in Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area. Easy trails range along the Colorado River at James M. Robb-Colorado River State Park and Highline State Park. The mile-long Dinosaur Hill Trail by Fruita explores a shale hill where a 70-foot-long Apatosaurus was excavated in 1900.

Grand Junction offers lots of other outdoor adventures. Take a raft or kayak trip down the Colorado River through beautiful Ruby, Horsethief, and Westwater canyons. Go four-wheeling with a jeep or ATV at the BLM’s North Fruita Desert Area on terrain from flatlands to exciting hills. Toss your fishing line in the river for warm water species like catfish or in lakes for trout, or strike a ball at Adobe National Golf Course, Tiara Rado Golf Course, and Lincoln Park Golf Course.