I started to drive into the BLM administered area, but back out after a short distance. There are roads that are not very good, and looked like they were getting worse as distance went on. So, I walked in a ways, but not enough to see the sites in the interior about 3 miles. These are rugged and remote parks that are not inviting to most people. The combined area of the two parks is 225 square miles and the NCA has control over the access and limits people visiting the area. If you are a "rugged" one, this remote and pristine region would be fun to hike for a couple of days, and camp
There are a string of old motels where the strip used to be on north Street for tourists to come and stay. A lot, if not all have survived yet, even though some may be long term stay for migrant workers and lower poverty families today. Amazingly they are still fairly well maintained, and looks like they want to compete with the chains. The 1950-60's art deco fashion look is memorable
Grand Junction has done a very good job of reworking the old downtown area and preserving what they can so the decline is not rolling downhill too fast. They have quaint shops and places to eat. One of the more interesting notes is all the statues and sculptures there and throughout the town. Some they own, and others are on loan.
There are 14 main trails in the park; some easier than others. The longest being 8 1/2 miles, while there are short jaunts of 1/2 mile. They also have 13 overlook views of various park scenes, all good for sure. I took 3 trails and ended up that day going about 12 miles in total, with McInnis CAnyon next door. UGH!, yes it is tiring.
My calculation of Devil's Kitchen was 1 1/2 miles, and the last 1/2 mile rigorous climb up a steep huge rock face about 300 feet. Not so gradual as brochure says. You end up in middle of huge rocks and it is the kitchen
This seems like a "little" Grand Canyon with the steep crevices and sheer walls of color. John Otto came here in 1907 and loved the canyons, so stayed and promoted this to be a national park. Eventually with GC citizens, the NPS accepted the park in 1911. Otto carved oout most of the traiols taken today. The 23 mile Rim Drive road is the main one going through the park, and winds up the mountains about 2,000 feet. The views are fabulous, both overlooking the park colors and valleys, but also the panorama view of the valley below. Visitor center is at the north end of the park, and has a gift shop and NPS people to answer questions. There are 14 trails that can be taken and around 11 overlooks along Rim Rock Dr.
The park also connects with McInnis CAnyons that is managed by Bureau of Land Management. It is much more rugged and remote for sites and adventures, but there are trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding. Adjacent to that is the Black Ridge CAnyon Wilderness, an even more remote NCA, and no roads to enter; only foot or horseback.
The botanical garden is at the south end of town-by the old town center. It is on Riverside Pkwy and easy to find since this is Bus 70. The garden was colorful, and the help friendly. They have a lush green section with current flowers in bloom, then the section with shrubs of color, and a desert section for indigenous plants for the area. Entry fee is $5 and worth the short 30 minute visit
It is a popular attraction for many people coming form Denver are, but also a number of traveling tourists. The springs is one main feature to draw people, but they also have an adventure park, a cave, thrill rides sluice box and so many other touristy things I do not want any part of. I am a more mundane who likes the outdoors and open spaces, not clustered tour traps to get money for not much fun. The Colorado runs right next to the town, and the springs are housed inside now for comfort
This museum has an eclectic mix of history and variety. It shows the guns and weapons that were used in the 1800's. Then there is the uranium mine tour that shows how that was mined. A Pueblo dwelling depicts the times and pottery and utensils used. Then the stand out is the Sterling Smith observation tower that is maybe the highest point in town. YOu can see for miles form here.
Admission is $5.50 adults and $1 less for seniors. Times are 10-3Pm Tuesday through Saturday.
Until a few years ago, the Colorado River was a dumping ground for old cars and trash. Now, volunteer organizations have restored the natural wetland shores of the river right within the city of Grand Junction. A Botanical Garden and Museum is located at the foot of 7th Street, just across the railroad tracks, and closer to the river is a paved walkway with several pedestrian bridges. I returned to the truck by way of a bicycle trail along the river. At the time of my visit, it was near dark and the Botanical Gardens closed. Rafters and Kayak enthusiasts will be interested in these photos of the river at dusk.
The City Hall has a nice modern art piece, and there is an outstanding sculpture fountain, but then there are some small private contributions, and a bust of a civic leader too. Grand Junction's collection of street art is truely impressive...