Fruita is next door neighbor to Grand Junction, CO, a town that Hans spent several formative years growing up in and we were able to enjoy visits with old friends from his distant past. Jay and Nancy had us over for dinner one evening and gifted us with a bounty of cherry tomatoes that really put a smile on my face!
As usual, hiking was foremost on our agenda and the options available in this area are numerous. Our buddies John and Pam had scouted out a couple of trails during their visit in May and our first hike was a reverse of the Monument/Wedding Canyon hike they had done. We chose to go up Wedding Canyon to get the steepest part over with early (and uphill instead of down) as well as to take advantage of the morning shade cast by the canyon walls...it's been hot in western Colorado!
|Almost full moon sinking into the West just before the morning sun hits the canyon walls.|
|As we neared the top of Wedding Canyon we could see sandstone monoliths struck by morning sun in the canyon ahead of us.|
|I love the tower at the end of each sandstone bench!|
|Happy Birthday Hans!|
Colorado National Monument lies immediately south of Fruita and Grand Junction, and in fact, our hike had taken us onto Monument land. Now it was time to drive the 23 mile Rim Rock Road to get a birds eye view of the amazing sandstone canyons that make up this national treasure.
|Dramatic sandstone canyons are the focus of Colorado National Monument.|
|Independence Monument...the monolith we posed in front of for Hans' Birthday photo!|
McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area was just minutes from our campsite at James M. Robb State Park in Fruita. With miles of trails from multiple trailheads, it is an easy choice for no hassle hiking among colorful sandstone formations. On our first foray into this park we did a great six mile loop from the Devil's Canyon trailhead that took us along the base of the formations and over the top for views into the canyons using the D4 and D5 trails.
For our second hike at McInnis Canyons we hiked Devil's Canyon itself (trail D3). Taking the trail up canyon we chose to return by boulder scrambling through the bottom of the canyon for a challenging seven mile hike that had us climbing rock faces to go around water-filled potholes and tall pour-overs!
|Trail D3 starts out in the pretty canyon bottom before heading up on the bench overlooking the canyon.|
|As the trail climbed out of the canyon bottom the views opened up and we saw figures hiding in the canyon walls.|
|Making our way down canyon...|
several times we had to scale the canyon walls to get around pools of water or steep drop offs.
|Coming down the canyon wall after avoiding a water filled hole.|
We played the Riverbend Park disc golf course in Palisade, CO one day. This long, narrow park is situated on a strip of land between the Colorado River and one of the many canals flowing through the area. Palisade is a pretty area known for the peaches and grapes grown here.
|The course alternated between treed sections...|
|...and wide open spaces.|
Those are the Book Cliffs behind Hans, they make up the northern border of the entire Grand Valley.
|Downtown Grand Junction is nicely done, with wide sidewalks full of plants and art and seating.|
We especially liked the mountain biking art.
We hiked a second trail recommended by John and Pam, the Liberty Cap/Corkscrew Loop. Parts of this loop are very steep and rocky, those with a fear of heights need to be aware there are some places with extreme exposure to steep drop offs.
|From the trailhead we could see Liberty Cap as a tiny rounded point on the left atop the sandstone way above us.|
|Good use of natural surface for the trail.|
|That's Liberty Cap behind Hans.|
|The wind howling through this canyon threatened to blow us off the top!|
|Great views of the Grand Valley.|
Those are the Book Cliffs on the far side of the valley.
We had a fun evening with Hans' childhood friend, Doug and his wife Penny and kids Sarah and Chad. Good pizza and beer at Hot Tomato Cafe in Fruita, then a campfire back at our site. It was great reconnecting with folks from Hans' past, learning about the evolution of this area and their lives over the decades and sharing our adventures on the road.
|Hans serenades Chad, Penny, Doug and Sarah.|
We spent a week at James M. Robb State Park, once again using the Colorado State Parks Pass that we purchased last spring in order to avoid the $7 per day fee they want to tack on top of your nightly camping fee. This state park has five sections along the Colorado River in the Grand Valley, two of those sections offer camping, we stayed at the Fruita site.
Like all of the other CO state parks we've stayed in this year, this park is very well maintained (that $7 daily fee at work). Roads and sites are paved, picnic tables with ramadas and fire pits at each site. Nice restroom/shower buildings and inexpensive laundry on site. This park has a playground and access to the Colorado River and a couple of small lakes.
We had excellent 4G Verizon signal, no booster necessary. The park is right on the edge of Fruita and minutes from Grand Junction so shopping is plentiful, trails are bountiful and nearby. The only drawback here was some freeway noise as I-70 is less than half a mile away, and occasional train whistles.
|Site #38 had excellent privacy.|
All full hookup sites at the Fruita park are pull outs.
|From the little mound where the previous photo was taken I could see one of the small lakes.|
|Rosie liked this park very much!|
|Sunset from our site.|
We delayed our departure from Fruita for a day due to rain, so today we're off to Ridgway, CO.