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251 miles W. of Denver, 169 miles N. of Durango

Grand Junction is an excellent jumping-off point for those who want to drive or hike through the awe-inspiring red-rock canyons and sandstone monoliths of Colorado National Monument, explore the canyons at Dinosaur National Monument (about 2 hr. north), or sip and savor in the wine country of Palisade, just a short drive east.

Grand Junction is also the eastern entrance to one of the West's most scenic and challenging mountain-biking treks, Kokopelli's Trail, which ends in Moab, Utah. For the less athletically inclined, Grand Junction has an active visual-arts community, good museums, and a fine botanical garden.

Located at the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado rivers at an elevation of 4,586 feet, the city was founded in 1882 where the spike was driven to connect Denver and Salt Lake City by rail. It quickly became the primary trade and distribution center between the two state capitals, and its mild climate, together with the fertile soil and irrigation potential of the river valleys, helped it grow into an important agricultural area. Soybeans, and later peaches and pears, were the most important crops. The city was also a center of the western Colorado uranium boom in the 1950s and the oil-shale boom in the late 1970s, and today is a fast-growing trade center serving practically all of western Colorado and eastern Utah.