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20 Best Hikes in Grand Junction, Colorado (According to a Local)


Located on Colorado’s Western Slope, Grand Junction is the ultimate destination for desert hiking. From colorful canyons, to desert waterfalls, to epic views overlooking the Colorado River, Grand Junction is home to countless stunning hikes.

I’ve lived in Grand Junction for the past 5 years and have hiked most of the trails in the area (although there are still a few I’d like to tackle!). There are SO many amazing hiking trails in Grand Junction, but I somehow narrowed down this list to the 20 best hikes in Grand Junction.

This list is broken into the best easy, moderate, and difficult day hikes in Grand Junction to make it easy for you to find a hike that best fits your needs. I’m also honest about the type of views you’ll find along each trail. Some of these hikes are, frankly, more scenic than others, but they all have something special to offer.

Whether you’re a local, or just passing through the Grand Valley, these hikes will help you get the most bang for your buck on the trail!

Rattlesnake Arches
Rattlesnake Arches in Fruita

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The Best Hikes in Grand Junction Free Checklist download.
Sunset over the Colorado River in Palisade Colorado, from the Palisade Rim Trail.
Sunset along the Palisade Rim Trail.

Recreating Responsibly in Grand Junction

Grand Junction is becoming an increasingly popular hiking destination (for good reason!). It’s also extremely popular with mountain bikers. With so many people out recreating it’s important for everyone to practice Leave No Trace to help minimize their impact on the environment.

Here are the 7 Leave No Trace principles to keep in mind while hiking in Grand Junction, Colorado:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare. Make sure that you pack enough water when hiking in the desert!
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Remember to stay on trails and other durable surfaces, like slickrock and washes.
  3. Properly dispose of waste. Pack out all of your trash, including dog poop and human waste!
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of other visitors. Remember uphill hikers have the right of way. Please don’t play music over speakers on the trail.

The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to  enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.

Don’t Bust the Crust

Grand Junction lies on the eastern edge of the Colorado Plateau, so it has a similar environment to other desert locations in Utah and Arizona. A lot of the land on the trails around Grand Junction is covered in biological soil crust, otherwise known as cryptobiotic soil.

Cryptobiotic soil plays a critical role in the desert by helping to prevent erosion. It is also extremely delicate. Cryptobiotic soil can take years to decades to recover from damage, so it’s important to stay on developed trails, or travel over durable surfaces like dry washes or slickrock, to avoid disrupting it!

Chunky cryptobiotic soil along a trail in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Thick cryptobiotic soil in Grand Junction.

The Best Hikes in Grand Junction, Colorado

This list of the best hikes in Grand Junction is broken down into easy, moderate, and difficult hikes. You’ll notice that most hikes around Grand Junction are moderate. This is largely due to the rocky, desert terrain in the valley. If you’re not accustomed to hiking in the desert, then read these 20 tips to learn more about what to expect.

Dog-Friendly Hikes in Grand Junction

There are a mix of hikes that are dog-friendly and not dog-friendly on this list of the best hikes in Grand Junction. An easy guide to determining whether or not a hike in Grand Junction is dog-friendly or not is checking to see whether it’s in Colorado National Monument.

Dogs are NOT allowed on any trails in Colorado National Monument. All other trails around Grand Junction are dog-friendly. Most dog-friendly trails around Grand Junction require dogs to be “under control,” which means having dogs on a leash or under strict vocal control.

Best Easy Hikes in Grand Junction

1. Devils Kitchen Trail

Who says you need to go all the way to Utah or Arizona for cool rock formations? Devils Kitchen is Grand Junction’s own sandstone playground and one of the best hikes in town. The hike up to Devils Kitchen begins on a well-maintained trail leading away from the parking lot. The initial stretch of trail is wide, easy hiking with trail signs at each junction that will point you in the direction of Devils Kitchen.

The majority of the trail is easy to hike, but there’s a short climb to actually get up to the Devils Kitchen rock formation at the end. Once you’re at the top there are a lot of interesting nooks and crannies to explore. Hiking up to Devils Kitchen can be as easy or adventurous as you want it to be, which makes it a great option whether you’re exploring with young kids or are looking for a quick after work hike with great views.

A couple hiking Devils Kitchen in Colorado National Monument.

Trail Stats for Devils Kitchen

Location: Colorado National Monument

Trailhead Location: Google maps 

There are no bathrooms at the main parking lot. You can find some at the Devils Kitchen Picnic Area.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Moderate. Parking is available at the Devils Kitchen Trailhead, which is a small lot on the left hand side of the road shortly beyond the east entrance to the park. If that lot is full you can also park in the Devils Kitchen Picnic Area and take a short spur trail to the main trail. Both parking areas serve numerous trails, so they fill up quickly on nice days, especially during the weekend.

Distance: 2 miles out-and-back

Elevation Gain: 400 ft. (if you climb up into the rocks)

Difficulty: 3-3.5/10

Estimated Hike Time: 1-1 1/2 hours

AllTrails Link

Devil’s Kitchen Trail Map


2. Rustler’s Loop

Located in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, Rustler’s Loop is a scenic hike near Grand Junction that is great for families, dog owners, and beginner mountain bikers. The trail also marks the beginning of the Kokopelli Trail, a multi-day bikepacking route that connects Fruita to Moab.

Because the trail sees a lot of use, hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders should travel clockwise when completing the loop. There are a number of signs throughout the trail with helpful tips for beginner mountain bikers navigating the terrain.

Rustler’s Loop takes you out to a scenic bluff overlooking the Colorado River. This is a great place to stop for a photo opp. Continue hiking along the loop past colorful sandstone cliffs as you make your way back to the trailhead.

Dog overlooking an icy Colorado River while hiking near Grand Junction.

Trail Stats for Rustler’s Loop

Location: McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

Trailhead Location: Google maps 

There are pit toilets at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy. There’s a very large parking lot with overflow parking available.

Distance: 3.5 mile loop

Elevation Gain: 275 ft.

Difficulty: 2-3/10

Estimated Hike Time: 1-1 ½ hours

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

AllTrails Link

Rustler’s Loop Trail Map


3. Mica Mine Trail

If you’re looking for a fun, kid-friendly hike in Grand Junction then head to the Mica Mine Trail. This short hike takes you through a picturesque canyon to a historic mica and quartz mine. 

There are a few steep cuts in the rock that you have to hike down near the beginning of the trail, but this is the most difficult portion of the hike. From there the trail is relatively easy to follow, however portions were washed out in a landfall a few years ago. The star of the hike is the Mica Mine, which is a large cave carved into the cliffside.

While rockhounding is legal on BLM land, be mindful of how much mica and quartz you take (if you take any at all). My husband has seen the mine transform considerably over the past 20+ years and if people continue to harvest the mica indisciminately, future generations won’t be able to enjoy the mine’s splendor!

Two women and two dogs sit in front of the Mica Mine, one of the best hikes in Grand Junction, Colorado.
There’s now a fence in front of the Mica Mine to keep people out.

Trail Stats for Mica Mine Trail

Location: Grand Junction BLM Bangs Canyon Management Area

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There is a pit toilet at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy. The trailhead is used as a staging area for OHV drivers and serves multiple trails, but spaces are plentiful.

Distance: 2.5 miles out-and-back

Elevation Gain: 300 ft.

Difficulty: 2.5-3/10

Estimated Hike Time: 1-2 hours

Dog-Friendly?: Yes 

AllTrails Link 

Mica Mine Trail Map


4. No Thoroughfare Canyon

Waterfall hikes in the desert are a rare treasure and the waterfalls in No Thoroughfare Canyon are no exception! The hike up No Thoroughfare Canyon begins at the Devils Kitchen trailhead. The trail follows a wash, which usually has some water flowing during the spring.

Waterfalls are the highlight of No Thoroughfare Canyon, although their flows are seasonal. The first waterfall is small and a little over a mile from the trailhead. From there the trail climbs up a series of steep steps before continuing up the canyon. After an additional 0.7 miles you come to a much taller waterfall. This is where most people end their hike. The trail continues beyond that point, but becomes unmaintained and requires some scrambling.

No Thoroughfare Canyon is a great option for beginner hikers looking for a rugged trail. The best time of year to hike is during the spring when the stream and waterfalls are flowing. The canyon can be icy in the winter, so be sure to carry microspikes!

Woman stands on a rock in front of a desert waterfall in Grand Junction.

Trail Stats for No Thoroughfare Trail

Location: Colorado National Monument

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There are no bathrooms at the main parking lot. You can find some at the Devils Kitchen Picnic Area.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Moderate. Parking is available at the Devils Kitchen Trailhead, which is a small lot on the left hand side of the road shortly beyond the east entrance to the park. If that lot is full you can also park in the Devils Kitchen Picnic Area and take a short spur trail to the main trail. Both parking areas serve numerous trails, so they fill up quickly on nice days, especially during the weekend.

Distance: 4.5 miles out-and-back

Elevation Gain: 440 ft.

Difficulty: 4-4.5/10

Estimated Hike Time: 2-2 ½ hours

Dog-Friendly?: No

AllTrails Link 

No Thoroughfare Trail Map


5. McDonald Creek Canyon

McDonald Creek Canyon has a lot to love. It’s a scenic trail with towering rock walls, ancient petroglyphs, and the crown jewel- the Colorado River. It’s a great family-friendly hike that rarely gets crowded because it’s a bit of a drive from Grand Junction in Rabbit Valley.

The trail through McDonald Creek Canyon is easy to navigate. After ¾ miles of hiking you’ll reach a side canyon that you can explore. This will add some additional mileage and the terrain is much more primitive, but it makes for a fun excursion.

As you continue hiking you’ll pass a couple of large rock alcoves before reaching the end of the trail. The McDonald Creek Canyon trail ends at train tracks overlooking the Colorado River, so it’s easy to know when to turn back. Be aware, these are active train tracks, so be careful exploring the area.

Man standing in front of the Colorado River on one of the best hikes in Grand Junction.

Trail Stats for McDonald Creek Canyon

Location: Rabbit Valley

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There is a pit toilet at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The parking lot isn’t very large, but the trail usually isn’t crowded so it’s easy to snag a spot.

Distance: 4 miles out-and-back

Elevation Gain: 175 ft.

Difficulty: 2.5-3/10

Estimated Hike Time: 1-2 hours

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

AllTrails Link 

McDonald Creek Canyon Trail Map


6. Gunny Loop

The Gunny Loop borders on an easy-moderate hike. The trail is fairly short and doesn’t have much elevation gain, but the terrain is rugged and exposed. It can also be difficult to navigate at times because a number of trails bisect the area. I recommend downloading the map from AllTrails to help stay on the right path (although you can also choose your own adventure and explore the area further).

Despite its shortcomings, Gunny Loop provides scenic views of Grand Junction and an opportunity for solitude because it isn’t overly popular. It also makes a great trail for trail running thanks to its rolling terrain. Because the trail sits at a higher elevation than many of the other trails in town, snow and ice can linger during the winter. I recommend carrying microspikes this time of year.

Note: This Gunny Loop shouldn’t be confused for THE Gunny Loop further up Little Park Road, which is a longer and more challenging trail that is popular with mountain bikers.

Trail Stats for Gunny Loop

Location: Grand Junction BLM land

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There is a pit toilet at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy-moderate. There’s a decently sized parking lot, but the trailhead serves a number of trails in the area.

Distance: 3 mile loop

Elevation Gain: 370 ft.

Difficulty: 2.5-3.5/10

Estimated Hike Time: 1-2 hours

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

AllTrails Link 

Gunny Loop Trail Map


Best Moderate Hikes in Grand Junction

7. Big Dominguez Canyon

Big Dominguez Canyon is technically located outside of the Grand Valley in the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this stunning hike on the list of best hikes in Grand Junction. It’s a local favorite thanks to its beautiful canyon views, easy terrain, and access to water. 

The entire length of Big Dominguez Canyon is roughly 13 miles one-way. Most of the trail is easy to navigate, but there are a few areas where things become overgrown and difficult to follow in the middle. Most people hike Big Dominguez Canyon as an out-and-back, but you can also hike it as a point-to-point. Backpacking is popular in the canyon, but there are restrictions about where you can camp. 

To access Big Dominguez Canyon it takes about 1 mile of easy walking to get to a bridge that crosses the Gunnison River. Then it takes about another ¾ of a mile of hiking along the river to get to the canyon. You can continue hiking as far as you’d like through the canyon before turning around to hike back to your car. The trail follows Big Dominguez Creek passing petroglyphs, waterfalls, and unique rock formations along the way.

It’s also possible to hike Big Dominguez Canyon from the top down. This involves a longer drive up to the Uncompahgre Plateau. Parking for the upper trailhead can be found at the Dominguez Campground.

Woman hiking one of the best hikes in Grand Junction, Bif Dominguez Canyon.

Trail Stats for Big Dominguez Canyon

Location: Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area

Trailhead Location: Google maps (lower trailhead)

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy-moderate. This is a very popular hiking trail. There are 2 parking areas, but they can fill up, especially if there are a lot of horse trailers.

Distance: Plan for 4+ miles of hiking, but you can make your hike as long as you want.

Elevation Gain: The first 2 miles are relatively flat, then you gradually gain a few hundred feet per mile.

Difficulty: Varies depending on distance. The first 2-3 miles are easy walking/hiking.

Estimated Hike Time: 1-4+ hours depending on how far you hike

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

AllTrails Link

Big Dominguez Canyon Trail Map


8. Flume Canyon

Flume Canyon is a scenic, dog-friendly hike near Fruita that takes you into the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness. The trail begins at the Pollock Bench Trailhead with other trails, so make sure to follow the F1 trail throughout your hike. The Flume Canyon trail creates a large loop, which I recommend hiking counterclockwise for navigational purposes.

Experienced desert hikers will likely find Flume Canyon to be a relatively easy hike. However, you traverse sandy terrain, hike through a small canyon, and hike across washes throughout the hike, which some hikers may find challenging. This is a beautiful area and the further back into Flume Canyon you get, the more scenic the hike becomes. 

Flume Canyon can also hook up to the Pollock Bench Trail or Devil’s Canyon near the back of the loop. I highly recommend hiking Flume Canyon during the spring when wildflowers are blooming.

Woman carrying a yorkie while hiking in Flume Canyon in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.

Trail Stats for Flume Canyon

Location: McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There is a pit toilet at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The parking lot serves multiple trails and can fill up on weekends during the spring and fall. Horse trailer parking is available.

Distance: 5 mile loop

Elevation Gain: 550 ft.

Difficulty: 4.5-5/10 Moderate

Estimated Hike Time: 2 hours

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

AllTrails Link 

Flume Canyon Trail Map


9. Monument Canyon & Wedding Canyon Loop

The Monument Canton & Wedding Canyon Loop is arguably one of the most scenic hikes in Colorado National Monument. The trail takes you up to the base of Independence Monument where hikers are treated to sweeping views of both canyons. Be sure to keep an eye out for rock climbers scaling the towering monolith!

You can hike the Monument Canyon & Wedding Canyon Loop either clockwise or counterclockwise. Alternatively, you can just do an out-and-back through Monument Canyon (this brings the distance down to about 4 miles).

The trail through Wedding Canyon is considered an “unmaintained trail” by the National Park Service, and it’s much steeper and rockier than the well-maintained trail up Monument Canyon. I prefer doing the loop clockwise up Monument Canyon and down Wedding Canyon.

This is my top hiking recommendation for people visiting Colorado National Monument for the first time. It’s not too difficult, the views are spectacular, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see mountain goats on your hike through Monument Canyon!

Trail Stats for Monument Canyon & Wedding Canyon Loop

Location: Colorado National Monument

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy-moderate. There are a limited number of spaces in the main parking area, but there’s plenty of room for overflow parking. Be advised that the parking lot is not paved and the overflow spaces may be difficult to park in without a high-clearance vehicle.

Distance: 4.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 760 ft.

Difficulty: 5.5/10

Estimated Hike Time: 2-2 ½ hours

Dog-Friendly?: No

AllTrails Link

Monument Canyon & Wedding Canyon Loop Trail Map


10. Serpents Trail

If you’re short on time and want sweeping views of Grand Junction, then head to the Serpents Trail in Colorado National Monument. The trail is actually an old mining road that was constructed in the early 1900s. Because the trail was originally built for automobiles, the grade is fairly mellow and consistent throughout the entire hike. It’s also wide and can handle a lot of people, so it’s a great choice if you’re hiking with a bigger group.

Serpents Trail is great for training for more difficult hikes because you get a decent amount of elevation gain in a relatively short distance. The trail also isn’t super steep unlike some of the more difficult hikes below.

View from the Serpents Trail in Colorado National Monument

Trail Stats for the Serpents Trail

Location: Colorado National Monument

Trailhead Location: Google maps 

There are bathrooms at the Devils Kitchen Picnic Area.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Moderate. Parking is available at the Devils Kitchen Trailhead, which is a small lot on the left hand side of the road shortly beyond the east entrance to the park. If that lot is full you can also park in the Devils Kitchen Picnic Area and take a short spur trail to the main trail. Both parking areas serve numerous trails, so they fill up quickly on nice days, especially during the weekend.

Distance: 3.5 miles out-and-back

Elevation Gain: 700 ft.

Difficulty: 5/10

Estimated Hike Time: 60-90 minutes

Dog-Friendly?: No

AllTrails Link 

Serpents Trail Map


11. Lunch Loops

The Lunch Loops are a well-developed trail network in the Redlands that are popular with hikers and mountain bikers alike. Because there are so many trails in the area, the Lunch Loops are really a choose your own adventure hiking destination. 

You can make your hike at the Lunch Loops as long and difficult, or short and easy as you’d like. There are maps at the trailhead and on the trail to help you plan your route and stay on the right path. I’ve also found that the trail map of the area on AllTrails is pretty accurate.

My go-to route at the Lunch Loops is hiking up Curt’s Down, then taking Curt’s Lane-Raven’s Ridge-High Noon-Tabeguache Trail back to the trailhead. The loop is roughly 5k, so it’s perfect for a trail run. If you want to add a little extra distance without extra elevation gain you can take High Noon to Pet-E-Kes to Tabeguache back to the trailhead.

Wildflowers along a desert trail in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Wildflowers along the trail during the spring.

Trail Stats for Lunch Loops

Location: City of Grand Junction/BLM land

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There are pit toilets at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy. There’s a very large parking lot at the trailhead, as well as overflow parking for trailers and large vehicles. It can get crowded after work during peak season (late spring and early fall), but there are usually plenty of parking spots available.

Distance: Varies depending on your route.

Elevation Gain: Varies depending on your route.

Difficulty: Generally moderate, but you can make your hike easy or difficult if you prefer.

Estimated Hike Time: Varies depending on your route.

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

AllTrails Link 

Lunch Loops Trail Map


12. Rabbit’s Ear Mesa Trail

The Rabbit’s Ear Mesa Trail is located in Rabbit Valley near the Utah border. While the trail is a bit out of town, it still makes the cut as one of the best hikes in Grand Junction because of its stunning views and opportunity for solitude. Rabbit’s Ear Mesa Trail is a great hike that takes you through pinyon-juniper forest and past rock formations to the top of a mesa overlooking the Colorado River.

Rabbit’s Ear Mesa Trail is easy to navigate. You’ll hike through a mini slot canyon, traverse hillsides, and encounter a variety of terrain along the way. If you hike the loop counterclockwise you’ll reach the first overlook area after about 2.5 miles of hiking. Take in the views of Ruby Canyon and the La Sal mountains in the distance before completing the loop and heading back to the trailhead.

Woman stands on a rock overlooking the Colorado River on one of the best hikes in Grand Junction.

Trail Stats for Rabbit’s Ear Mesa Trail

Location: Rabbit Valley

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy. There’s plenty of parking available. Getting to the trailhead involves driving on a dirt road.

Distance: roughly 6 mile lollipop loop

Elevation Gain: 700 ft.

Difficulty: Moderate

Estimated Hike Time: 2-3 hours

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

AllTrails Link 

Rabbit’s Ear Mesa Trail Map


13. Pollock Bench Trail

If you’re looking for a fun desert hiking adventure, then head to the Pollock Bench Trail in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. Pollock Bench shares a trailhead with Flume Canyon and Rattlesnake Arches. Follow the P1 trail signs to stay on the right path.

The beginning of the Pollock Bench Trail trail follows an old Jeep road, so it’s pretty easy hiking. There is steady elevation gain, but it’s gradual. After a little over 1 ½ miles of hiking you’ll reach a fork where a loop begins. I recommend hiking the loop clockwise so you can top out at the highest point of the trail before descending back down to the trailhead.

The loop takes you along the edge of Pollock Canyon, providing gorgeous views that rival Colorado National Monument. The trail becomes more narrow during this portion of the hike, but it’s still easy to navigate. There are a couple of places where the trail traverses alongside big drop offs, so keep an eye on kids and dogs.

Trail Stats for Pollock Bench Trail

Location: McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There is a pit toilet at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The parking lot serves multiple trails and can fill up on weekends during the spring and fall. Horse trailer parking is available.

Distance: 7 miles

Elevation Gain: 925 ft.

Difficulty: Moderate

Estimated Hike Time: 2 ½-3 ½ hours 

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

AllTrails Link 

Pollock Bench Trail Map


14. Palisade Rim Lower & Upper Loop

For a scenic hike in Palisade, hit the Palisade Rim Loop. The trail includes a lower loop and an upper loop. I recommend hiking both for some of the best views in the Grand Valley, but if you’re short on time or looking for an easier hike, the lower loop alone is still scenic.

You’ll pass a few petroglyph panels featuring herds of animals along the Palisade Rim Loop. Remember, these petroglyphs are protected by federal law so be sure to view them respectfully. Never touch petroglyphs because oils from your skin can cause them to erode faster. 

Be prepared to encounter mountain bikers on the trail. The Palisade Rim Loop is the end of the Palisade Plunge, which is a grueling 33-mile mountain bike ride from the top of the Grand Mesa down to Palisade. While hikers technically have the right of way on the trail, sometimes it’s easier and safer to let mountain bikers come by on this trail!

Woman stands on the edge of a cliff while hiking in Palisade, Colorado.
The view from the Upper Loop.

Trail Stats for Palisade Rim Lower & Upper Loop

Location: Palisade

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There are pit toilets at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Moderate. The parking lot was expanded in recent years to accommodate more vehicles.

Distance: 8.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,450 ft.

Difficulty: 6.5-7/10 for both the Lower & Upper Loop

Estimated Hike Time: 3 ½-4 ½ hours 

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

AllTrails Link 

Palisade Rim Upper & Lower Loop Trail Map


15. Devil’s Canyon

Hiking Devil’s Canyon is the perfect dog-friendly alternative to hiking in Colorado National Monument because the trail boasts similar terrain. Devil’s Canyon is a fun desert hike that provides stunning views and showcases some of the old history of the area.

The trailhead for Devil’s Canyon serves the entire Devil’s Canyon trail system, which contains a variety of different trails. To get to Devil’s Canyon, follow the signs for “Devil’s 1” to “Devil’s 3.” After hiking down into a wash, you’ll come to a fork in the trail where the loop begins. I’ve always hiked Devil’s Canyon clockwise and enjoy this option.

The trail through Devil’s Canyon is easy to follow, but there are sections that are steep and loose. Near the back of the canyon you’ll pass an old homesteader cabin with remnants of Western Colorado’s pioneer days scattered about. Remember these artifacts are protected by federal law, so take only photos and leave only footprints!

Devil's Canyon, one of the best hikes in Grand Junction.

Trail Stats for Devil’s Canyon

Location: McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There are pit toilets at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy. There’s a very large parking lot at the trailhead.

Distance: 6.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 780 ft.

Difficulty: Moderate. 5.5/10

Estimated Hike Time: 2 ½-3 ½ hours 

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

AllTrails Link 

Devil’s Canyon Trail Map


16. Rough Canyon

Rough Canyon provides a rugged canyon adventure close to Grand Junction. The trail is right on the cusp of being a moderate vs. difficult hike, because it requires scrambling and navigating exposed terrain. However, it’s not a long hike and the scrambling isn’t particularly difficult.

Rough Canyon is best completed as a loop hike connecting the canyon with a 4×4 road in the Bangs Canyon Recreation Area. If you hike counterclockwise, the beginning of the trail follows the same route as the Mica Mine Trail. From there you’ll downclimb through Rough Canyon and hike back up the 4×4 road.

I’ve only hiked Rough Canyon counterclockwise, but I’d like to hike it clockwise in the future because I think the hike will be more enjoyable. Navigating through Rough Canyon can be…rough! Because the canyon is prone to flash floods, rocks, logs, and other obstacles can change. Some minor route finding may be required to get through the canyon, so be sure to carry a map!

Woman stands in a canyon while hiking in Western Colorado.

Trail Stats for Rough Canyon

Location: BLM Bangs Canyon Management Area

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There is a pit toilet at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy. The trailhead is used as a staging area for OHV drivers and serves multiple trails, but spaces are plentiful.

Distance: 4.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 875 ft.

Difficulty: 6.5-7/10. Moderate-difficult due to the scrambling involved.

Estimated Hike Time: 2-3 hours

Dog-Friendly?: Yes, however the terrain isn’t really suitable for dogs. Scrambling is required to get through the canyon and there are a lot of rocks that are scratched up from dogs!

AllTrails Link

Rough Canyon Trail Map


Best Difficult Hikes in Grand Junction

17. Lower Liberty Cap & Corkscrew Trail Loop

If you’re looking for epic views and a killer workout on one of the best hikes in Grand Junction, then head on up the Lower Liberty Cap Trail. This is one of the steepest trails in town, but the challenging hike is worth it.

The trail up to Liberty Cap contains 2 distinct sections with steep elevation gain. The first section is a thigh burner that climbs over 500 ft. in a little over ⅓ of a mile. The second section climbs a little over 300 ft. over roughly the same distance, so it feels comparatively easier. The National Park Service recently made improvements to this portion of the trail, so things are secure and easy to follow.

If you want a longer hike you can continue hiking beyond the Lower Liberty Cap Trail up the Upper Liberty Cap Trail. Hiking from the trailhead to Rim Rock Drive is 7 miles one way, so this adds considerable distance as an out-and-back.

When you’re coming down from Liberty Cap I recommend hiking down the Corkscrew Trail instead of going back the way you came. It adds about a mile to the hike, but the grade is much more mellow so it’s easier on the knees.

Woman sits on a rock overlooking a canyon in Colorado National Monument.

Trail Stats for Lower Liberty Cap & Corkscrew Trail Loop

Location: Colorado National Monument

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Hard. The Wildwood Trailhead is located in a private neighborhood and has very limited parking. There is no overflow parking available on the street, so if the lot is full choose a different hike!

Distance: 4.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,400 ft.

Difficulty: 7-8/10

Estimated Hike Time: 2-3 hours

AllTrails Link (Note: this route doesn’t take you to Liberty Cap, consult this trail for the spur) 

Liberty Cap Trail Map


18. Ute Canyon Trail

Hiking the Ute Canyon Trail will transport you into a remote canyon wilderness that will make you forget how close you are to Grand Junction. This trail is my personal favorite for a long, challenging day hike in Colorado National Monument. While you can start from either the top or bottom of the trail, I recommend starting at the bottom so you don’t have to end your hike with a big ascent.

If hiking from the bottom park at the Wildwood Trailhead and begin hiking on the same trail that takes you to Liberty Cap. Veer left at the fork that leads you to the Corkscrew Trail. Follow the Corkscrew Trail up to a bench where you will continue hiking into Ute Canyon. The trail ends with another steep ascent up to Rim Rock Drive where you’ll find a small parking area. Hike back the way you came or have someone come pick you up!

Woman hiking in a canyon in Colorado National Monument.

Trail Stats for Ute Canyon Trail

Location: Colorado National Monument

Trailhead Location: Google maps

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Hard. The Wildwood Trailhead is located in a private neighborhood and has very limited parking. There is no overflow parking available on the street, so if the lot is full choose a different hike or hike down from Rim Rock Drive.

Distance: 11 miles out-and-back

Elevation Gain: 1,900 ft.

Difficulty: 8-9/10

Estimated Hike Time: 5-6 hours

Dog-Friendly?: No

AllTrails Link 

Ute Canyon Trail Map


19. Rattlesnake Arches

Who said you need to drive all the way to Arches National Park for an exhilarating arch hike? Rattlesnake Canyon has the second largest concentration of arches in the world after Arches National Park, which makes this hike one of the most scenic hikes in Grand Junction.

There are 2 ways to access Rattlesnake Arches. A long 15-mile hike that begins along the Pollock Bench Trail (keep an eye out for the signs for Rattlesnake Canyon). Or you can take a shorter 6-8 mile trail from the Upper Trailhead. The drive out to the Upper Trailhead is long and requires a high-clearance, 4WD vehicle. 

Depending on the route you take, you’ll either hike up or down to a bench between two layers of sandstone cliffs. From there, the trail traverses towards the northwest across classic desert terrain, before making an abrupt turn that takes you into Rattlesnake Canyon.

Once you get into Rattlesnake Canyon you’ll see a total of 8 arches, including Bridge Arch, East Rim Arch, and Cedar Tree Arch. You can climb through Cedar Tree Arch to get up to the top layer of the canyon and overlook the arches, but this requires some scrambling. You can also access this area from the Upper Trailhead.

Trail Stats for Rattlesnake Arches

Location: McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

Trailhead Location

Google maps (Upper Trailhead)

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead. The road to the Upper Trailhead is closed from February 15-April 15.

Google maps (Lower Trailhead)

There is a pit toilet at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty

Lower Trailhead: Easy-moderate. The parking lot serves multiple trails and can fill up on weekends during the spring and fall. Horse trailer parking is available.

Upper Trailhead: Very difficult. A high-clearance, 4WD vehicle is necessary to reach the Upper Trailhead. There are places to stop and park before the terrain gets rough, but this will add mileage to your hike.

Distance

From the Lower Trailhead: roughly 15 miles | From the Upper Trailhead: roughly 8 miles

Elevation Gain

From the Lower Trailhead: 2,550 ft. | From the Upper Trailhead: 1,250 ft.

Difficulty:

From the Lower Trailhead: 9/10 | From the Upper Trailhead: 7.5/10

Estimated Hike Time

From the Lower Trailhead: 6-8 hours | From the Upper Trailhead: 3-4 hours

Dog-Friendly?: Yes

AllTrails Link

From the Lower Trailhead

From the Upper Trailhead

Rattlesnake Arches Trail Map


20. Mt. Garfield

Mt. Garfield is arguably the most iconic natural feature in the Grand Valley, so I had to include it on this list of the best hikes in Grand Junction. I, however, have yet to complete this hike (every attempt has been thwarted by weather!).

Mt. Garfield is considered to be the hardest hike in Grand Junction thanks to its brutal elevation gain. The trail up Mt. Garfield gains roughly 1,000 ft. per mile, which as any hiker knows, is incredibly STEEP. The terrain is also loose and exposed in some areas, which adds to the hike’s rigor. It’s not advised to hike Mt. Garfield if the trail is wet or snowy.

Trail Stats for Mt. Garfield

Location: Palisade

Trailhead Location: Google maps

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The parking lot is fairly small, so it can get crowded, especially on weekends.

Distance: 4 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,000 ft.

Difficulty: 9.5/10

Estimated Hike Time: 3-4 hours

Dog-Friendly?: Yes, however the trail may not be suitable for all dogs due to the steep & exposed terrain.

AllTrails Link 

Mt. Garfield Trail Map


The Best Hikes in Grand Junction, Colorado free checklist download.

FAQ’s About Hiking in Grand Junction

When is the best time of year to go hiking in Grand Junction?

You can go hiking in Grand Junction any time of year, but certain times of year are nicer than others. The best time of year to go hiking in Grand Junction is during the spring and fall, from March-May and late September-November. This is when the temperatures in Grand Junction are most comfortable for hiking throughout the day. 

Winter (December-February) is also a great time to hike in Grand Junction. Temperatures can be cold, but you usually encounter fewer hikers. Grand Junction typically experiences some snow and ice during the winter. While things tend to melt fairly quickly, snow and ice can linger in shady areas. It’s often easily navigable, but carrying microspikes can be helpful.

Summers in Grand Junction are very hot, with temperatures often exceeding 90-100+°F during July and August. The best time of day to hike in Grand Junction during the summer is at sunrise. Afternoon thunderstorms during the summer are also fairly common.

Woman hiking in the desert.

Where should I go for a post-hike meal in Grand Junction?

After you complete one of the best hikes in Grand Junction, you have to head to a local restaurant for a post-hike meal. There are many tasty eateries in town, but here are some of my favorite restaurants in Grand Junction:

  • Handlebar Tap House: Handlebar serves up custom burgers and sandwiches with a variety of local beers and drinks on tap. It’s located right down the street from the Lunch Loops and east entrance of Colorado National Monument, so it’s easy to bop over for a post-hike or bike meal.
  • Trail Life Brewing: Located on Main Street in downtown Grand Junction, Trail Life Brewing is one of the city’s newest breweries. Not only does Trail Life feature local brews and a delicious menu, it’s located in the same building as Gear Junction, so you can shop for some used outdoor gear while you wait for your food.
  • Devil’s Kitchen: For a delicious upscale dining experience, head to Devil’s Kitchen. Located on the top floor of the Hotel Maverick, Devil’s Kitchen features unique drinks and an eclectic, seasonal menu. 
  • The Hot Tomato: Located in Fruita, The Hot Tomato is the Grand Valley’s premier pizza shop. The menu features creative combos, or you can build your own pizza with a variety of topping options.
  • Pablo’s Pizza: While The Hot Tomato is worthy of its popularity, it’s not the only delicious pizza joint in Grand Junction. If you’re closer to downtown GJ, head to Pablo’s Pizza for an eclectic menu of fresh pizzas and salads.
  • EC’s Asian Station: EC’s Asian Station is the BEST Chinese takeout in Grand Junction. Without question. While it’s pricier than other Chinese restaurants in town, the food is flavorful and made fresh to order.
  • Taco Party: This isn’t your usual taco restaurant. Taco Party features unique tacos and tasty dishes, including vegetarian options. Come for the tacos and stay for soft-serve ice cream flavors you won’t find anywhere else.
Dinner at Devil’s Kitchen

How can I support public lands around Grand Junction?

Consider becoming a member of Colorado Canyons Association! CCA is a local non-profit that helps support education and conservation in Western Colorado’s National Conservation Areas (including McInnis Canyons and Dominguez-Escalante). By donating to CCA you’ll help kids get outdoors and provide educational programming for kids and adults that promote Leave No Trace ethics.

Trailhead Map For the Best Hikes in Grand Junction

I hope you enjoy hiking in Grand Junction!

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