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Grand Junction, Colorado
Fast Facts
ACTIVITIES
Paleo & Archeo
Rafting
Cycling
Mountaineering
Museum
Walking
Historic Interest
Horseback Riding
 
 
Tourist Attractions
 
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Fun Family Trips

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Family Travel Tips
FAMILY TRAVEL GEAR
IT'S ALL IN THE ACTIVITY
 

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!
Getting There
 
Grand Junction, on Colorado's western slope, is located 247 miles (397 km) west of Denver, Colorado and 284 miles (456 km) southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah. This stop on the Dinosaur circuit is easily accessed from I-70 also known as the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway. Select U.S. domestic airlines offer daily, non-stop service between Denver, Phoenix and Salt Lake City and Grand Junction's Walker Field Airport. Amtrak connects Grand Junction to points east and west making train travel an option for families. Bus service is available from Denver and Durango as well as destinations farther a field.
Getting Around
 
While taxis are readily available at the airport and city buses will get you around town, a car is required to fully explore Grand Valley. Yet you need not be slave to motorized vehicles to enjoy a family vacation in Grand Junction. There are numerous hiking and mountain biking trails of varying length and difficulty in this corner of western Colorado. (Of note, off-road mountain biking is not permitted in Colorado National Monument.)
When to Travel
 
Summers are hot and dry with an average high just above 90°F (32°C). Winters are mild (50°F or 10°C) and snowfall is generally light. Dinosaur digs are offered in summer only and rafting is dependent on river flow. Both spring and fall are particularly colorful.
Health & Safety
 
The climate in Grand Junction is semi-arid. Wear sunscreen and a hat and carry plenty of water (4 liters per person per day). When hiking in the backcountry be sure to tell someone where you are hiking and when you plan to return. Biting gnats are a problem from May to July. Be sure to pack your bug spray.
Things to Keep in Mind
 
The weather can vary greatly from place to another even within short distances. Plan to dress in layers and pack with the highs and lows in mind.
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Travel Trivia
Which of the following animals are you likely to spot on an African safari: