Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Adventures Around Fruita, CO

Fruita, CO is well known as a mountain biking destination, second only perhaps to Moab, but we didn't even unload our bikes during our week long stay in the area. We're finding more and more that we prefer getting up close and personal with the landscape on foot, the better to enjoy the wildlife, geology and plant life instead of whizzing by it all on two wheels.

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.

Campground Review

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.


  1. Beautiful photos as always Lisa. Love the sun on the canyon walls and the Liberty Cap with Hans. Shear drop offs and high winds - you guys are so bada$$! The state park spot looks perfect, and we like the sound of trains so even better :-))))

  2. What amazing red rock canyons and spire formations! I visited Grand Junction once a few years ago, but it was to go skiing. Seeing the incredible scenery nearby, I want to come back and explore this area further someday.

  3. I'm just learning so much about eastern Colorado, between your and John and Pam's posts. I can't wait to see it (someday). We just won't stop until we do. Colorado National Monument just looks tremendous!

  4. Thanks for the travelogue of the Fruta/Grand Junction area. My daughter moved there last week.I will not get up there until late November and it will surely be much cooler and possibly snowy.

  5. The Monument/Wedding Canyon loop is one of my favorite hikes. I don't think I'll ever get bored hiking the National Monument.
    Ingrid@ LiveLaughRV

  6. You have some absolutely spectacular photos today. I love the 2nd, 3rd and 4th photos, the photos of mountain bike art and the hiking photos. We definitely need to put Fruita/Grand Junction in our travel plans!

  7. Looks like you had a wonderful time in Fruita. We definitely need to return. There is so much great hiking close by. McInnis Canyon was a nice place for some quicker hikes with great color! We had to come off one of those walls!! Glad you got to hike up to Liberty Cap. I agree not for the faint of heart in a few places:)

  8. Gorgeous area and so many great hikes -- but thanks for the warning about the Liberty Cap trail. Don't think I'll be doing that one! Looks like you enjoyed another fun meet up with friends from the past. Another wonderful aspect of our lives on the road! (p.s. Happy belated birthday, Hans!)

  9. Grand Junction is one of the many places on "the list" to which we must return. We overnighted there last year and realized that we needed way more time. Rosie looks very happy and content.

  10. I too have found that I prefer hiking to biking if I really want to see up close. We spent a week at Colorado National Monument in their campground and just loved the hiking there. How wonderful that Hans grew up in the area. Your pictures of your hiking in the area are really terrific. Love those beautiful formations and wonderful colors. Happy Birthday Hans!

  11. Great post Lisa...Joe and I have got to get out the hiking boots now that the weather has cooled off.
    Rosie looks quite content!

  12. Happy Birthday Hans! Great photos and write up! Also appreciate mentioning the verizon 4G status at the campsite. I work while on the road so its important for me to know camps where a good signal exists. I'll likely be headed out that way come springtime. Happy travels!

  13. What a fitting "candle" as a backdrop for Hans' birthday! Happy Belated! I just loved Colorado Natl Monument, and also loved Grand Junction! I could have spent a lot more time there. Some great hikes you did there...