If you enjoy outdoor recreation, then you will appreciate all Grand Junction, Colorado, has to offer. There is an abundance of public lands, open space, and outdoor recreation opportunities. There are fantastic hikes near Grand Junction with incredible views!
Grand Junction, Colorado, sits in a valley surrounded by breathtaking views of the Grand Mesa, red rock Colorado National Monument, high desert vistas, and Bookcliff Mountains.
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The west slope touts 300 days of sunshine a year, and it is pretty accurate. We even named our dog Sunny because it is always sunny in Grand Junction! I lived in Grand Junction, Colorado, for over ten years and absolutely enjoyed it.
We wanted to share with you nine incredible hikes near Grand Junction. All of these hikes are great if you are new to the area, a local, want a fun day hike on the weekend, or just moved to Grand Junction to go to college.
But first, be sure to stay on the trail and “don’t bust the crust” (link to USDA and U.S. Forest Service).
Did you know it takes hundreds to thousands of years for the desert crust to grow? I’m a biology nerd and totally wrote my undergraduate thesis on biological soil crust.
Now, on to epic hikes with the best views in the Grand Junction area!
Length – 5 miles round trip
Difficulty – Moderate
Directions – Hikers can access the lower trail from Broadway/Rim Rock Drive in the Redlands. There is a little parking lot off Broadway with the trailhead. Hikers do not need a National Park Pass to hike Independence Monument Trail from the Broadway/Rim Rock Drive access point.
Independence Monument is iconic to the Grand Valley. You can feel the red rock energy and grounding magnificence of the monument and canyons as you hike the trail. Independence Monument is in the Colorado National Monument.
As you hike, keep your eyes peeled for Bighorn Sheep and Collard Lizards! This trail is well marked. You can visit this trail year-round for the most part.
Here is a link for additional information on hiking in the Colorado National Monument.
Length – 3.7 mile loop
Difficulty – Easy
Directions – Rustlers Loop can be accessed by taking the Loma exit off I-70. Head to the Rustlers Loop trailhead. It is well marked and part of the more extensive Kokopelli Trail System.
If you are looking for a place to run or hike with breathtaking views of the Colorado River, this trail is for you. Visitors can also mountain bike Rustlers Loop. It is a super easy mountain bike trail with amazing scenery.
What I like most about Rustlers Loop is you can hike it year-round. It is an easy trail and does not take all day to walk. My husband and I use to love hiking Rustlers Loop on Christmas. We would have the entire area to ourselves!
If you are looking for a longer hike in this area, check out the trailhead maps for Mary’s Loop and Horsethief Bench, which all connect. You could spend all day on the Kokopelli Trail System, which eventually leads all the way to Moab, Utah. What a fun adventure!
Length – 15 miles round trip
Difficulty – Hard
Directions – The Pollock Bench Trailhead is easy to find off Horsethief Canyon Road south of Fruita. There are a few ways to hike this trail, so be sure to do some research before you head out!
Rattlesnake Arches from the Pollock Bench Trailhead is a must-see. Pack a sack lunch, extra water, and plan to do an all-day round-trip hike to some of the best canyon country and arches in the United States.
Rattlesnake Arches Trail is one of our favorite hikes in the Grand Junction area. You’ll be surrounded by spectacular red rock geology, pinon-juniper forests, cactus country, followed by grand displays of the McInnis Canyons National Conversation Area and hidden natural arches. The hike gets remote as the trek takes you into the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. The canyon views and hidden gem arches are sure to take your breath away and stoke your wanderlust!
I ranked this hike as hard for two reasons. First, it is 15 miles round trip and takes most of the day (it took us 8 hours). Second, some sections require rock scrambling. You don’t have to do the entire trip, but the arches and canyons are at the end before you turn around.
Length – 4.8 mile loop
Difficulty – easy
Directions – The Flume Canyon Trailhead is easy to find off Horsethief Canyon Road south of Fruita. Here is a map of the Devils Canyon, Flume Canyon, and Pollock Bench Trail System from the BLM.
The Flume Canyon Trail hike is nice and easy. It has a fair amount of traffic. The trail has a steady, rocky incline; in the beginning, you get into the rocks, then the trail drops into a canyon meadow.
This area, in general, is a hub for other great hikes in the area (we just talked about getting to Rattlesnakes Arches). Keep your eyes on the trail markers unless you want to hike a different trail purposely.
Length – 2 miles round trip
Difficulty – hard
Directions – BLM access directions can be found here.
Hiking Mount Garfield has a cult-like following (in a fun way). We have friends that hike it every day to train for races and other athletic events. It is a hard 2,000 feet of vertical gain in one mile. But once you are at the top, the views of the Grand Valley are so worth it!
This trail is steep. Take good hiking shoes and maybe some trekking poles. This hike is totally worth the uphill energy.
Length – 3.3 mile loop
Difficulty – moderate
Directions – Don’t be discouraged or misled by the trailhead access. You have to drive through a neighborhood in the Redlands to get here. The Corkscrew trailhead is shared with Liberty Cap and the Ute Canyon Trail. Both are also excellent day hikes within the Colorado National Monument.
Follow the well-marked signs for Corkscrew Trail. Corkscrew Trail will take you into the Colorado National Monument. There are gorgeous high desert views. What I love most about the Corkscrew Trail is that it literally does some “corkscrews.” Super fun, so check it out!
The average time to complete the hike is about 2.5 hours, so you could do it after work or as a quick fun weekend hike.
Check out the Colorado National Monument website for more information on hikes within the park. You don’t have to pay to hike any of these three trails from the Redlands access.
Keep your eyes peeled for Big Horn Sheep!
Length – about 1.4 mile loop
Difficulty – easy
Directions – The Rabbit Valley Trail Through Time is located right off I-70 on the north side, exit 2, to Rabbit Valley.
Even though it is an easy hike, what makes it spectacular are the dinosaur fossils along the way!
Pablo and I have even watched antelope close by on the ridge. If you’re into checking out dinosaur fossils (which we think is way fun), then this is a neat, easy trail for you.
Length – 6.1 mile loop
Difficulty – Moderate
Directions – Located in the Rabbit Valley area, take exit 2 off I-70, go towards the south side of I-70, drive about 4.5 miles east along the gravel road.
The Rabbit Ears Trail will take you through pinon-juniper woodlands to a spectacular overlook of the Colorado River, La Sal Mountains, and canyon country.
We were the only ones out here when we did this hike. The views from the top of the loop are so incredible!
Make sure to bring water.
Length – 2 miles round trip
Difficulty – Moderate
Directions – Also located in the Rabbit Valley area, take exit 2 off I-70. Head south/southwest on the dirt road about 2.5 miles. You’ll come into a meadow area and will see a giant rock in the middle of the field. The trailhead is off to the left.
Pablo and I hiked McDonald Creek Trail one year on my birthday. I am fascinated with hikes in canyon country that have ancient mysteries tucked away. McDonald Creek is home to a few unmarked displays of ancient rock art and is in the McDonald Creek Cultural Resource Area. The Fremont Indians lived here over 1,000 years ago.
The trail starts off in an open space meadow. As you head into the canyon, the red rock gets higher, and the canyon narrows. The trail leads you to the Colorado River (but you have to crawl through the Tamarisk quite a bit).
This wraps up our nine favorite hikes near Grand Junction!
Below are some of the best hikes in Colorado:
Continue reading to find out about hiking gear we are rocking!
Are you looking for new hiking gear? We have you covered!
For longer hikes, I really like hiking with trekking poles. Hiking poles provide extra balance and keep me in a meditative rhythm.
I’m a big fan of Leki carbon trekking poles. They have an excellent warranty and helpful customer service.
I appreciate mid-top hiking boots for support and ankle safety. This year, I decided to try out the Oboz brand from Bozeman, Montana. I am excited about the mid-top look Oboz has come out with, like the boots below.
So far, they are awesome.
The husband has had his Merrell Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoes for a long time and digs them.
For longer hikes, we take our Osprey Sirrus 24 Hiking Backpack. We have had this bag for at least eight years. It’s super durable and has been all over the world with us.
New to hiking, biking, and outdoor adventures? Right on! We compiled some resources for you.
Check out the information below.
We hope you can get outside and enjoy these fantastic hikes near Grand Junction, Colorado.
We love Grand Junction and hope you do too.
Thanks for stopping by.
Ashlee & Pablo
You might also enjoy our other posts on Colorado:
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I’m a travel and outdoor recreation writer with dreams to inspire happiness through an outdoorsy lifestyle. I want to help people live their best life by sharing free adventure guides. The USA has been my backyard most of my life, and it’s the place where you’ll find most of our escapades! I’m married to an expat Argentine, chihuahua Mom, and am passionate about the environment. I hold a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability. We camp in our Aliner often, love road trips, hiking, and SUP’ing!