Summer Escapes: Grand Junction
Family rafting, monumental views and a hoedown
You know you've escaped to Grand Junction when you see "Chrome on the Range II," the bison sculpture by Lou Wille that sits at the corner of Fourth and Main streets. It's one of the permanent pieces from Grand Junction's Art on the Corner program that makes a stroll through downtown so delightful.
- Produced By:
- Anya Semenoff
- May 17th 2010 at 05:25 p.m.
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You call yourself a country music fan, but you've never been to Country Jam? Each June, the area turns itself into Nashville, if Nashville were in the middle of vineyard-studded, high-desert country. The concerts are actually held in Mack over four days -- this year it's June 24-27, when Keith Urban, LeAnn Womack, Sawyer Brown, Alan Jackson and more will play outdoors to the crowds. There's camping and all kinds of food, and folks dance their boots off. One-day admission: $69.
Most people simply drive through Colorado National Monument, and while Rim Rock Drive is indeed a great way to experience this series of canyons and red-rock formations, viewing it through glass is a poor substitute for getting out and hiking areas such as No Thoroughfare Canyon, the southernmost segment of Ute Canyon. There are several trails, with pools, waterfalls and petroglyphs as rewards for minor scrambling and medium-strenuous hiking on loose, sandy soil and rock. You can do it as an out-and-back - and make your trek as long as your tolerance for the heat in this area will allow - or link the trails to wind back around.
One of the best family raft trips in the country sits just 12 miles west of Grand Junction. The Ruby-Horsethief section of the Colorado River launches at Loma and takes out at Westwater, Utah, and offers 25 miles of class I and II water past serene red rock canyons with many chances to pull over and hike into the side canyons or set up a picnic among the cottonwoods. No permit is required, and the whole trip takes about 10-15 hours, usually over one to three days. There's camping along the way, which is shared and gets crowded on weekends, so be sure to check the rules.
When kids are in tow, the best place to head to in GJ is Bananas Fun Park, where it's hard to know what to do first.: Go-Karts? Miniature golf or bowling? Batting cages? Inflatable playland? Lazer Tag or Maze? Bumper boats? Video arcade? There's also a cafe on-site with kid-friendly fare. Attractions are available priced individually, or you can buy two types of unlimited passes for $17.50 or $25.50.
For a lodging experience that approximates staying at a French country inn on a vineyard, Two Rivers Winery & Chateau comes close, albeit with views of Colorado National Monument next door. The winery means frequent tastings are possible, and the pretty, spacious rooms are filled with comfortable, antique furniture. Breakfast is included. Rates start at $79.
F. 626 on Rood
The extensive by-the-glass and flights roster on the well-chosen wine list is just the start of the wonderful things to expect from the casually chic 626 on Rood. The "sharing menu" is brilliant, served all day and filled with delectable items that cost $8-$17 - blue-cheese ravioli with strawberry walnut sauce, beef short rib quesadillas with caramelized bourbon shallots - and the lunch and dinner menus are equally innovative.