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Things to do in Grand Junction Colorado

This is one of my favorite towns in Colorado. It's nostalgic for me as I visited on both of my birthday weekends during my time living in Denver. I even took my first solo camping trip here which was something I never thought I could do on my own.

Before moving to Colorado I had never heard of Grand Junction; it's not the typical scenery that comes to mind when you think of the Rocky mountains. It is much more reminiscent of Utah landscapes, but it's so worth visiting! It's beautiful, less crowded, and one of my favorite places in Colorado.

a girl with her arms up at colorado national monument

Getting There

It's about a 4 hour drive from Denver, but you'll want to account for some of that classic I-70 traffic if you're going on a weekend, especially in the winter with ski traffic (it's rough and one of the reasons I moved out of Colorado). I highly recommend leaving Thursday evening to avoid it! For reference, most of my trips to Grand Junction have been in April (all the photos on this post) and there's still snow in the mountains (photo below is from the same day!). If you're coming from Denver then you can expect snowstorms along the I-70 mountain passes throughout May, sometimes June. I took the photo below from the drive from Denver; it usually clears up once you get to Glenwood Springs canyon. Grand Junction is far enough west that the weather is drastically different from Denver and its surrounding ski towns, so it's a great escape if you're sick of snowy hikes and want to explore with comfortable temperatures then Grand Junction is a perfect long weekend getaway!

If you want to break up the drive you can hike at Hanging Lake or Rifle Falls State Park. They're both on the way, really neat and something you wouldn't want to drive out for one day for. Since Hanging Lake is in Glenwood springs, it's likely to be warmer and drier, check condition of course though. Rifle falls looks incredible when it's frozen (if you're lucky enough to see that way!) The 2 right photos below are from Rifle Falls and Rifle Gap reservoir.

Where to Stay

It's a generally safe town (though i'm from the east coast where we have actual dangerous cities) and there's plenty of places to stay. Always be cautious, I stayed in an airbnb while here once and honestly wish I had stayed in a hotel. The neighborhood was a little creepy to arrive in at night, so I recommend just staying in historic downtown area at one of these pet-friendly hotels (fees aren't bad either): Tru by Hilton, Fairfield Inn by Marriott, or Hampton Inn. You can do street parking if you're there on a weekend to avoid the fees. This will ensure you're close to all the local shops/boutiques, coffeeshops and restaurants! You can also stay in the heart of wine country in Palisade at the Wine Country inn.


You can read about my experience solo camping here. You can also disperse camp at Dominguez Canyon trail; it is incredibly remote though, so only do that if you're experienced. I didn't want my first solo camping experience to be too difficult, so I chose an established campsite called James M. Robb Colorado River State Park which was right outside the town of Grand Junction, slightly off I-70, reservations can be booked here. If you're lucky enough to find availability, camp in the National monument.

Check out my full video on instagram to see the whole experience!

Things to Do in and around Grand Junction

Exploring Historic Downtown Grand Junction

You must stop for breakfast or lunch at Main St Bagels!! These are the best bagels in Colorado and yes, i've been to all the "popular" ones in Denver that honestly suck in my opinion. There will almost always be a line, but it's worth it! The bagel sandwiches are massive, so they are guaranteed to keep you full! I love the Caprese bagel with the cheddar flavored bagel. There's so many vegetarian friendly options, so I loved it and always go back when I pass through. I enjoyed a birthday dinner at The Winery Restaurant and we got to meet other friendly locals and learn more about the town and their life here.

Mountain Biking

I've only done this a few times, but biking is incredibly popular here (as well as Moab). Fruita is really popular for biking, so if that's something you'd enjoy then you definitely enjoy the "cooler" spring temperatures when you're here and explore the trails nearby.

Powderhorn Mountain Resort

If you're still itching to ski and find snow during the winter or early spring, then visit Powderhorn mountain resort (45 minutes from Grand Junction). It's not on the IKON or EPIC ski pass, so you'll likely experience way less crowds than most ski resorts in Colorado. This is also another great place to walk around in warmer temperatures, or mountain bike. I love visiting ski resorts in the summers because of this!

Wine Tasting in Palisade Wine Country

This is Colorado's only wine country which is a nice break from all the breweries. I'm not a big beer drinker, so this was an exciting way to spend my birthday! I have visited Colterris Winery as the grapes are locally grown and it's dog-friendly! You get to taste some of Colorado's wine in a gorgeous scenery.

Farmer Market and Peaches Festival

They have a farmers market in downtown Palisade every Sunday in the summertime and early fall (june - october) so that's always fun to walk around with the dogs as well as support the local community. If you're visiting in August you should try and attend the Palisade Peach Festival.

Hiking Trails

Dominguez Canyon

This is one of my top favorite hikes of all time. You can bring the dogs, fly the drone, swim in random, remote watering holes and disperse camp for free. I love how unique this hike is and how calming the scenery is for me. Definitely pack your swimsuit to cool down in the river or swimming holes. This hike is completely exposed, so it's best to do this in the early morning or in shoulder season (spring and fall). I've never fully completed this hike, but there's enough to do that I've just enjoyed taking time slow, content creating, and relaxing by the water! The railroad and bridge at the beginning are super scenic as well. We even saw lots of people horseback riding here.

Colorado National Monument

a girl at colorado national monument

This park is not dog-friendly, so I just drove through and saw some of the sights with Sora from the overlooks in the park. You'll need your US national park pass to enter and you can drive around and still see a lot without hiking! If you don't have a dog, then you can do Monument trail or rim trail.

I highly recommend trying to grab a campsite here as well! The overlook is too gorgeous and would be a great spot for some stargazing. The park is about 30 minutes west from Grand Junction, so it's a perfect spot to stay before heading to Moab the next day (or back to Utah in general if you're approaching from that direction).

My favorite viewpoint for photos with the dog (if you're just driving through like I did) are Window Rock and Book Cliffs.

Mclnnis Canyons National Conservation Area

This is the place to hike if you have dogs and want to explore around the CO National Monument. We hiked part of Devils Canyon loop trail and the views were more than enough! This trailhead also leads to D1 and D2 trails. We just wandered around and didn't plan any full hikes. I brought Sora's biothane long line leash and let her run around a bit since the trail was wide and pretty empty!

  1. If time allows, you should head over the state border to Utah and explore Moab. It's about 1.5 hours away and a really cool place to explore, especially in the spring or fall.

  2. This climate is much different from the rest of Colorado; be prepared for a lot of heat.

  3. Extend your trip and head to Ouray and Telluride if you're visiting in the summertime! It's one of the best areas in the US (maybe world) for some top tier hiking. I have a whole guide here on my experience there!


Hi! I'm Jackie and my dog is Sora. I work remote as an engineer, but I love to spend my free time in nature and by traveling to new places. I take my camera wherever I go, and sometimes my drone.

Somewhere With Sora is a Seattle-based lifestyle and travel blog that provides helpful travel and adventure tips for all kinds of trips, with or without the dogs.

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