In addition to activities in Colorado and Dinosaur national monuments, there are numerous opportunities for hiking, camping, mountain biking, off-roading, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing on other public lands administered by the federal government. Contact the Bureau of Land Management, 2815 H Rd., Grand Junction, CO 81506 (tel. 970/244-3000; www.co.blm.gov), and the Grand Valley Ranger District of Grand Mesa National Forest, 2777 Crossroads Blvd., Ste. 1 (off Horizon Dr.), Grand Junction, CO 81506 (tel. 970/242-8211; www.fs.fed.us/r2).
You'll also find plenty to do at James M. Robb-Colorado River State Park (tel. 970/434-3388; www.parks.state.co.us), which has two main sections, both with campgrounds. Island Acres (tel. 970/464-0548), on the east side of Grand Junction at I-70 exit 47, also offers hiking, picnicking, fishing, and just gazing out at the river. The Fruita section, located in the community of Fruita about 1/2 mile south of I-70 exit 19, covers 81 acres and has all of the above, plus boating and a swimming lagoon. Day-use fee at both sections is $7 per vehicle; camping is $16 to $24 nightly.
The Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department (tel. 970/254-3842; www.gjcity.org) manages more than 30 parks and other facilities, covering about 467 acres, which offer picnicking, hiking, tennis, playgrounds, swimming pools, softball, playing fields, horseshoe pits, and golf courses.
A busy local shop where you can get information on the best spots for outdoor recreation is Summit Canyon Mountaineering, 461 Main St. (tel. 800/254-6248 or 970/243-2847; www.summitcanyon.com). In addition to information, it stocks a wide variety of outdoor-sports equipment, plus travel and outdoor clothing.
Grand Junction is known for its long golf season and challenging courses. My favorite course here, in large part because of the views—it’s like golfing in the Grand Canyon—is the 18-hole Golf Club at Redlands Mesa, 2325 W. Ridges Blvd. ([tel] 970/263-9270; www.redlandsmesa.com), with nonresident greens fees of $51 for 9 holes and $89 for 18 holes, cart not included. You’ll also find great golfing and views at the 18-hole Tiara Rado Golf Course, 2057 S. Broadway ([tel] 970/254-3830; www.golfgrandjunction.net), at the base of the Colorado National Monument canyons. Greens fees are $19 to $21 for 9 holes and $35 to $38 for 18 holes, cart not included.
Hikers and walkers who want to stay close to town can explore the trails in the Colorado Riverfront Project. Collectively known as the Colorado River Trails, the system includes almost 20 miles of paved trails that meander along the Colorado and Gunnison rivers, offering the chance to see ducks, geese, blue heron, deer, and rabbits. They are open to walkers and hikers, runners, bikers, in-line skaters, and horseback riders, but are closed to all motorized vehicles (except wheelchairs). Dogs are permitted if leashed. An excellent brochure with maps of the various river trails and directions to their trail heads is available free at the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau. You'll also find hiking trails at Colorado River State Park.
Trail rides near the west entrance of Colorado National Monument are available through Rimrock Adventures, P.O. Box 608, Fruita, CO 81521 ([tel] 888/712-9555 or 970/858-9555; www.rradventures.com). The stables are about a mile south of Fruita on Colo. 340. Rates for a 1-hour ride are $35 for adults and $25 for kids 5 to 12, and a half-day ride into the wilderness of Devil’s Canyon costs $80 for adults and $70 for children. Kids’ pony rides, running 15 minutes, cost $10.
Grand Junction has become important to mountain bikers as the eastern terminus of Kokopelli's Trail to Moab, Utah. Winding for 142 miles through sandstone and shale canyons, it has an elevation differential of about 4,200 feet. There are primitive campsites at intervals along the trail. The Colorado gateway is at the Loma Boat Launch, 15 miles west of Grand Junction off I-70.
For information on Kokopelli's Trail and several other area trails, contact the Colorado Plateau Mountain-Bike Trail Association, P.O. Box 4602, Grand Junction, CO 81502 (tel. 970/244-8877; www.copmoba.com). There's also a bike route through and around Colorado National Monument. Covering 33 miles, it follows Rim Rock Drive through the park and 10 additional miles on rural South Camp Road and South Broadway at the base of the canyons. Rim Rock Drive does not have a separate bike lane or shoulders, so be alert for motor traffic. The national monument publishes a free brochure.
You can also get information on area biking; rent mountain, road, and tandem bikes; and see some antique and unique bikes at Brown Cycles, 549 Main St. ([tel] 970/245-7939; www.browncycles.com). Bikes rent for $40 to $70 per day, and the shop’s bicycle museum includes an 1885 high-wheeler, Schwinns from the 1920s and 1930s, and the tallest unicycle on Earth (it is 40 feet from seat to tire). In Fruita, contact Over The Edge Sports, 202 E. Aspen Ave. ([tel] 970/858-7220; www.otesports.com); and in Palisade, head to Rapid Creek Cycles, 237 Main St. ([tel] 970/464-9266; www.rapidcreekcycles.com). Rental rates are similar to those at Brown Cycles.
For my money, one of the best ways to see this area’s beautiful red sandstone canyons is from the river, in a big old rubber raft. Colorado River–rafting trips are provided by Rimrock Adventures in Fruita ([tel] 888/712-9555; www.rradventures.com). Cost for a 3-hour trip about 9 miles down the Colorado is $45 for adults and $35 for children 12 and under; a 25-mile full-day float trip costs $100 per adult and $70 per child 13 and under. An exciting 17-mile white-water trip through Westwater Canyon costs $150 per person. The company also rents rafts and offers shuttles for those who want to explore the river on their own.
Adventure Bound River Expeditions in Grand Junction ([tel] 800/423-4668 or 970/245-5428; www.adventureboundusa.com), offers multiday trips. Two-day trips on the Colorado River cost $325 per adult and $250 for children 17 and under.
In Palisade, try Palisade River Trips, 317 Main St. ([tel] 970/260-5848; www.palisaderivertrips.com), offering guided 2-hour float trips for $50 with a two-person minimum, rentals, and combo bike-float trips.
Skiing & Snowboarding
Powderhorn Mountain Resort, Colo. 65, 7 miles south of Mesa ([tel] 970/268-5700; www.powderhorn.com), is located 35 miles east of Grand Junction on the north face of the Grand Mesa. A favorite among local skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels, this pleasant resort offers 1,600 acres of skiable terrain with a nice mix of terrain for all skill levels. Lift-ticket prices (2013-14) cost $59 adults 18 to 64, $51 for youth 13 to 17 and seniors 65 to 74, $30 for those 7 to 12, $32 for 75 and older, and $15 for children under 7. The resort has a ski school, a rental shop, and a repair center. It is usually open from mid-December through late March. There is also a ski-in, ski-out lodge, the Slopeside Ski Club ([tel] 855/754-3866;www.slopesideskiclub.com), with double rates in winter from $149 to $179 and a 2-bedroom condo from $300 to $350.
A trail connects Powderhorn Resort to Sunlight Mountain Resort, running 120 miles from Grand Junction's ski area to Glenwood Springs, the longest multiuse winter recreational trail in Colorado, traversing White River and Grand Mesa national forests. It is fully marked and continuously groomed. Other trails are accessed from parking areas along Colo. 65, between Mesa Lakes and Grand Mesa.
Centrally located Lincoln Park, at 12th Street and North Avenue, has an outdoor heated pool with a water slide. The Orchard Mesa Pool, 2736 C Rd., has an indoor pool, open year-round, with a diving area and shallow-water section. For hours, fees, and other specifics, contact the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department (tel. 970/254-3842; www.gjcity.org).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.