Grand Junction, Colorado
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Collared Lizard

 

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

Grand Junction is more than just the mid-way point between Denver and Salt Lake City. This small town on Colorado's western slope is a great place to explore the great outdoors. Home to Colorado National Monument - 23,000 acres of windows, arches, and canyons - and Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area - part of the 122,300-acre McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area - Grand Junction boasts miles of trails - hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking - of varying length and difficulty. But that's not all. Grand Valley, as the broader area is known, is situated on the banks of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers making it an ideal destination for fishing and river rafting. And it is a primary point on the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway. While it may be hard to imagine, this rocky, semi-arid environment on the Uncompahgre Plateau once looked more like the mouth of the Mississippi River with conifers, cycads and ferns. But what makes Grand Junction and the surrounding area a great place to hunt rocks and find bones? Thanks to mountain uplift and erosion the area's geological and paleontological history is today exposed. The Morrison formation, found here, is Late Jurassic sedimentary rock roughly 150 million years old!
 

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