Grand Junction, Colorado
Want to getaway in grand style? Grand Junction, Colorado just may be one of those vacation destinations to create memories that you’ll share with family and friends for a lifetime. Grand Junction is all about the look.
From almost anywhere you choose to look there are grand views of the towering mesas, plateaus and the high desert that will likely give you reason to literally pause along a highway and admire nature’s intriguing magenta and red colored rock faces, cliffs and wildlife. Look even closer and you’ll see the fine art-like water and wind earth carvings in sandstone arches and ridges formed over ions of time. Some views from inside the Colorado National Monument Park seem to transport you to an undisturbed prehistoric time. Dinosaur fossils have been found in the area.
During sunsets some of the cliffs glow with a beautiful reflective red light much like a towering fire wall. This place is a postcard photographer and adventurer’s paradise. In real estate the saying goes, “location, location, location.” Grand Junction’s location, a 3 hour drive southwest of Denver along the western slopes of the Colorado Rockies, is everything when you want winter, spring or summer vacation fun. Cost is only the limits of your imagination and sense of adventure.
About Grand Junction
The weather is just about perfect anytime for mountain bike riding along winding trails, camping, lake and river fishing, hiking places such as the challenging Devil’s Kitchen trail, skiing, snowboarding, golfing and the real favorite of visitors is year round wine tasting. The folks who live in Grand Junction tell us that they enjoy the outdoors no matter the calendar’s date. This community of less than 60-thousand people has a warm neighborhood folksy vibe. During our visit and while walking around the downtown businesses, boutiques and art district we discovered the folks of Grand Junction are friendly, welcoming and quite helpful to visitors wanting to get to know the area. By the way the downtown area is home to one of the nation’s largest outdoor display of sculptures. It’s pretty cool.
Eat and Wine Tasting
The community is nestled next to the great Colorado River. Topping the list of cool things to try is wine tasting. There are more than 20 wineries in Grand Junction and surrounding towns such as Palisade, and yes the restaurants are pretty fantastic with many offering the region’s delicious specialty dish favorites. Locals tell us that life doesn’t get much better than sipping on fine Cabernets, Sauvignon Blanc and one of a kind honey wines at local wineries. Many of the wineries are world class statue-winning prominent awards for quality tastes: Two Rivers Winery, Plum Creek Winery, Red Fox Cellars, and Maison la Belle Vie Winery. Maison’s owner John Barbier is a really cool guy and his knowledge of quality wines and food pairings is impeccable. John is also an executive gourmet chef.
If you ask real nicely the folks who run Grand Rivers just might give you glimpse of their field to table wine making process. One of the liveliest spots on the day of our visit was the Peach Street Distillers. The whiskey served here is rich with grand flavor and you’ll be happy that you stopped by! (Cost: $-$$$)
A lot of locals start the day with a full breakfast at the popular Dream Cafe in downtown. There is often a line to get a table so get there early. The cafe’s caramel and butter drizzled pancakes are wildly decadent and delicious. They’re fluffy and as airy as the mountain high Grand Junction atmosphere. If that’s not enough to get your day started, why not order an omelet. They come packed with anything you desire. It fills an entire plate and will have your mouth screaming with delight! (Cost: $-$$)
Folks who enjoy organic and fresh from the farm to table ingredients and savory dishes, II Bistro Italiano Restaurant is a very popular dining spot for locals. From its downtown Main Street entrance you can take in the robust aroma of herbs and spices blended into the traditional comfort Italian fare served here. We sampled everything from the artichoke Parmesan soup that is so smooth and flavorful, to the salmon that tastes as though a fisherman had just caught it out of a nearby stream a few minutes ago. The local Costolette Kobe beef rib dish is super moist and tender and dripping with herbs, spices and robust wine sauce. While folks await their meal many enjoy local wine favorites that they tell us are absolutely wonderful. (Cost: $-$$$)
Vacationers in the mood for a lighter fare, might want to stop into Cafe Sol. It makes the list of tummy pleasing take-out or dine in top pots. The Avocado and Black Been Salads and the Ahi Tuna dishes are scrumptious- giving you more than enough energy to take on your next adventure of the day.
Folks who enjoy pushing their fine dining palates over the top and who also enjoy a warm friendly dining atmosphere will likely find the Bin 707 Foodbar ideal for an evening out and also a place to meet new friends. The restaurant offers decadent cocktails along with artisan cheeses and cured meats dishes. One item that seemed to be popular on the night of our visit was the gourmet Colorado Lamb Tenderloin served with cauliflower and puree fennel. Julie, who sat at the next table suggested the Colorado Trout. Wow, was she right! This light and wonderfully flavorful fish was served with golden potatoes, Colterris coral Bernaise and a green salad. All served with local wines. These dishes will have you smiling with pure delight from the first bite to the last. (Cost: $$-$$$$)
To say Grand Junction, Colorado gets a lot of snow each year (250 to 300 inches) is like saying Hollywood has movie stars! For folks who enjoy winter fun there is perhaps nothing else quite like snow skiing/snowboarding all day at Powderhorn Mountain Resort just outside of Grand Junction city limits. Resort Marketing and Sales Manager, Ryan Robinson and very proud first time new Dad, makes sure this mountain is not only wallet welcoming but family friendly! Everyone is welcome. With close to 17-hundred vertical feet of powder soft perfectly groomed terrain for all ability levels. Ryan also mentions future plans to build a world class cycling center from the resort all the way down to Grand Junction. No matter your level of skill on the slopes once in a while taking a lesson can be great for enhancing your day or night on the mountain.
On the day of our visit we paired with ski instructor Barry Seitz, who is also Director of National Ski Patrol. Not only is Barry the instructor to other instructors, his sense of ease and sense of snow-humor seems endless. He has a million dollar smile and a million and one jokes about newbie skiers. If you’ve never locked on a pair of skis before, Barry will surely have you maneuvering on snow skis with confidence and laughing your way down the slope in no time. You can work up an appetite on the slopes. The resort’s bar and restaurants satisfy quite well. When the snow melts bring out your fishing poles and golf clubs and and bicycles, for a different level of fun. (Cost: $$-$$$)
When visiting Grand Junction you’ll likely find staying in downtown to be most convenient. The city’s hub of activity is located in the downtown historical district-great eateries, museums and more. Three hotels anchor the downtown district. Fairfield Inn and Suites, the Hampton Inn, and Spring Hill Suites offer guest different accommodations to match the personal and business needs of guests. The Springhill Suites, an all suite hotels, includes free Wi-Fi, free breakfast and a business center. The suite is spacious with a separate living room and office space. The rooms also offer a microwave, fridge and utensils to later enjoy the tasty leftovers from your dining adventures. The bedroom offers a pillow-top king or double queen bed. The bathroom is neat and very clean complete with a shower and sink separated from the other areas of the bathroom.
Grand Junction – Part of History
The area of Grand Junction, Colorado was settled ages ago by ranchers, railroad workers and miners. But in a time before settlers arrival a forgotten native people called this land home. The Utes people thrived in what’s now the state of Utah and Colorado. Unfortunately after these native people were forced onto reservation territory in the 1880’s by the United States military much of their culture was lost. What remains is centuries old unexplained artwork of their lives and strange looking beings painted on the walls of area cliff sides. Some of the artifacts are on display at the Museum of the West in downtown Grand Junction.
If you truly enjoy learning about a part of United States history you’d do yourself a fantastic favor by touring this local museum. You’ll spend hours learning what you never knew about what was once called the wild wild west.
If you’re a traveler who really loves and appreciates friendly people and the rugged outdoors be sure to put Grand Junction, Colorado on your destination list.