Grand Junction is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Visitors to the area find themselves amidst one of the best outdoor playgrounds in the country in an unexpected landscape surrounded by rivers, canyons, mesas and mountains, all of which provide the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable adventure. And, there is no better time to experience all that Grand Junction has to offer than the fall season. Summer crowds melt away, the leaves on top of the Grand Mesa transition to brilliant golds and the area’s warm climate allows visitors to enjoy their favorite summer adventure activities well into November.
· Explore Fall Foliage Atop The Grand Mesa: Among Grand Junction's spectacular red cliffs and winding canyons, visitors will see the 11,000-foot Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-top mountain, which boasts more than 300 lakes. This area offers some of the most fabulous fall foliage anywhere in Colorado. At 350,000 acres, the Mesa is graced with deep forests of aspens set against Colorado pine, spruce, fir and offers breathtaking ranges of fall colors. For hiking enthusiasts, Crag Crest Trail offers the perfect high alpine hike atop the spine of the Mesa.
· Go Canyoneering in The Colorado National Monument, Colorado’s Unofficial National Park: The Colorado National Monument is a semi-desert land that sits high on the Colorado Plateau. More than just a monument, CNM’s spectacular canyons cut deep into sandstone and granite–gneiss–schist rock formations. Discover the fundamentals of canyoneering and the right techniques to safely explore some of the best canyons in the U.S.
· Hike to The U.S. Second Largest Concentration of Arches at Rattlesnake Canyon: The northern end of Western Colorado’s Uncompahgre Plateau comes alive with remote canyons that slice through colorful sandstone layers to form cliffs, pinnacles, alcoves, and - most impressively - arches. In fact, you can find a collection of 35 natural arches, including eight major arches, tucked away in Rattlesnake Canyon. These soaring spans, protected in the 123,400-acre McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, form the world’s second largest concentration of arches outside of Utah’s Arches National Park. The Rattlesnake Canyon Arches are one of Colorado’s most spectacular wonders, but also one of its best-kept secrets.
· SUP the Storied Colorado River: Enjoy a stand-up paddle board (SUP) experience down the Colorado River or on the nearby Butterfly Lake at Las Colonias Park, soaking in the spectacular scenery while learning about the history, flora and fauna of this vital waterway. For another view of the river, visitors can explore the Colorado Riverfront Trail, a 30-mile flat, paved trail that connects Grand Junction with the nearby towns of Palisade and Fruita by one uninterrupted and scenic path along the river. The area is a habitat for more than 200 species of birds and three endangered fish species.
· Go Off-Roading in Bangs Canyon: Nearly 75 percent of the land in Mesa County is public land, equating to nearly 1.8 million acres, with much of that area open to mixed use which includes OHV travel: ATV, Jeep and motorcycle. Bangs Canyon is a hidden treasure for off-roading fun.
· Visit the WIld Horses of The Little Bookcliffs: Fall is the perfect time to explore the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Preserve that encompasses more than 30,000 acres of rugged canyons and plateaus, and is home to between 90 and 150 wild mustangs. It is one of only three ranges in the U.S. set aside specifically to protect wild and free roaming horses. The cooler fall weather allows for better viewing of the horses.
· Ride the Region’s Storied Singletrack: For lovers of singletrack, there are miles and miles of it, from fun flow fests to super-techy challenges, lung busting climbs to white-knuckle descents, and from hour-long spins to all-day epics. One of the most famous riding areas is the Tabeguache trailhead, better known as the Lunch Loops. Right outside of town, the trails were named by locals that could bust out of work and get a quick ride in during lunch.
· Taste your way through Colorado’s Agricultural Hub: The Grand Junction area is renowned for being home to a plethora of fruit stands, orchards and farms. Foodies can experience freshly harvested produce at farm stands throughout the region and at Grand Junction’s celebrated Market on Main. The Fruit and Wine Byway is an idyllic way to take in all the area has to offer and can be driven or biked. Visitors can sample local wines at Carlson Vineyard’s new downtown Grand Junction tasting room or at the Zesty Moose, and Two Rivers Winery and Chateau located near the Colorado National Monument offers wine tastings, lodging and incredible views as guests stroll through vineyards. Nearby Highlands Distillery produces great handcrafted spirits utilizing local ingredients and mixes up fun regionally inspired cocktails.