Grand Junction was named for its location at the junction of the Gunnison and the Grand River, which was renamed the Colorado River in 1921. Founded in 1882, after resettlement of the Ute Indians to reservations, the town was intended mainly as a center for agriculture and ranching. Although the region is a high desert valley, town developers saw promise for agriculture because of the long growing season and proximity to water from the two rivers. In the city’s first decades much effort was expended developing infrastructure such as dams and irrigation canals. The vision of the founders has been borne out over the years, with Grand Junction now serving as the agricultural and business center for the Colorado Western Slope. Uranium mining in the 1950’s and oil shale mining in the 1970’s and 1980’s have added to the local economy, making Grand Junction the largest metropolitan area between Denver and Salt Lake City.
Visitors to Grand Junction have many attractions and activities to choose from. Cross Orchards Historic Farm preserves and displays the early history of fruit-growing in Grand Junction. The Museum of the West showcases area history from the 1880’s to the present. Visitors may want to stroll down the tree-lined Downtown Historic District with its many fine restaurants, shops, and art galleries and admire the “Art on the Corner” outdoor sculptures.
Nearby is Colorado National Monument, a spectacular canyon area with dramatic red rock spires. At the western entrance to the monument and near the town of Fruita is the Dinosaur Journey Museum, which is a great place to learn about the many dinosaur discoveries in this area. Grand Junction is also the center of Colorado’s wine country with over 15 wineries to visit. A few miles away is 10,000 foot high Grand Mesa, the largest flat-topped mountain in the world with over 200 lakes. This year is the 125th anniversary of the founding of Grand Junction, and there will be a major celebration in late June through the 4th of July.
West Central Colorado at the junction of I-70 and US 50, 243 miles west of Denver
In the high desert Grand Valley at the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers; the Uncompahgre Plateau is south and west; Grand Mesa is southeast; the Book Cliffs are north
The average high temperature in July is 93 degrees (F), dropping into the 60’s at night. The average high temperature in January is 37 degrees, dropping into the teens at night.
Agriculture, medical services, tourism, education, and energy
Cross Orchards Historic Farm
Dinosaur Journey Museum
Grand Mesa Byway
Museum of the West
May: Downtown Art and Jazz Festival
May-Jun: Junior College Baseball World Series (JUCO)
Jun: Country Jam USA Music Festival
Jun-Jul: Grand Junction 125th Anniversary Celebration
Sep: Colorado Mountain Winefest
Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau: (800)962-2547, http://www.visitgrandjunction.com/