If you’ve discovered the hidden gem of Colorado that is Grand Junction and the Grand Valley, congratulations! Whether you’re here because you’re eloping in Grand Junction and found this guide, or you’re interested in visiting the area and looking for things to do and where to stay, this encompassing guide will hopefully help give you an overview of this beautiful valley and all it has to offer.
A Complete Guide to Eloping in Grand Junction
About Grand Junction
Grand Junction is named for the junction of the Colorado River (formerly called the Grand River) and the Gunnison River, located here in the valley. The valley consists of three main towns: Grand Junction, Palisade, and Fruita. Palisade is known as the Napa Valley of Colorado and is home to dozens of wineries, orchards and farm stands. Fruita is one of the top mountain biking destinations in the country and is in the desert climate of the valley. Grand Junction is home to the Colorado National Monument, a vast canyon park featuring pillars of red rocks. Just outside the Grand Valley, about an hour’s drive or so, is the largest flat-top mountain in the world: The Grand Mesa. It flattens out around 11,000ft in elevation and is home to 300 alpine lakes.
When to Elope in Grand Junction – Weather of Note
When deciding when to elope in Grand Junction it is important to understand the climate in the valley. While you might think you understand weather in Colorado, Grand Junction is considered a high desert and arid climate, meaning it has hot summers and mild winters. Located only an hour and a half from Moab, it shares a lot of similar weather with the desert moreso than Denver or the mountains.
Mild Weather – The Best Time to Elope in Grand Junction
The most mild weather in Grand Junction is March/April in the spring and October/November in the fall. The winters are mild, with only about a foot of snowfall on an average year. For this reason, the spring and fall are the most recommended time to elope in Grand Junction to get the best weather. Spring brings blossoming orchards in Palisade and temperate weather in the desert, and fall leaves begin to change throughout the valley in October.
In the summer here in the valley, it is important to bring much more water than you expect to need, and sunscreen in spades. Temperatures in Grand Junction can often reach over 100 degrees, so it’s best to avoid much activity mid-day to avoid the extreme heat. If you are planning to elope in the summer, and cannot avoid the middle of the day, be sure to prepare yourself and any guests accordingly with water, Gatorade, sunscreen, and hats. Plan extra time to take things slowly and keep hydrated. The Grand Mesa nearby is a great escape from the summer heat, where the elevation brings summer highs down to the 80s.
Higher Elevation Weather
The best area for couples seeking snow is the Grand Mesa through the winter, where Powderhorn Ski Resort offers skiing, or the top of the Mesa where you can find Nordic skiing, ice fishing, and snowshoeing. The Grand Mesa is also a nice reprieve from the heat of the summer, often only getting into the 80s, with lakes to cool off in or paddleboard on! The Grand Mesa, being higher elevation and more of a “mountain” climate, also has an abundance of wildflowers in the summer.
Wildflowers & Peach Blossoms
Many couples eloping in Colorado in the summer seek the beautiful wildflowers the state is known for. The Grand Mesa is an excellent spot for getting those wildflowers for your backdrop on the big day. Down in Palisade, there are several lavender farms that may allow photos on site which is another beautiful option for incorporating natural florals. In the spring, usually mid-April, the peach, pear and apricot orchards in Palisade are also in bloom. Photos with the blossoms are highly sought-after in the area.
Lately we’ve been experiencing a new season of note: wildfire season. Any time from June-September there is a possibility of wildfires affecting the state. These fires could affect travel, cause certain locations to be closed, or create smoky/hazy horizons that limit visibility of the mountains around the area. If you’re eloping in Grand Junction (or the state) during the summer it’s important to be aware of active fires and have a backup plan for locations just in case.
Where to Stay – Lodging in Grand Junction
When looking for lodging for eloping in Grand Junction, you’ll find a variety of options, from chic hotels to fun vacation rentals, and comfy bed & breakfasts.
Hotels in Grand Junction
Tru by Hilton – Located downtown GJ this is a newer hotel with a fun and modern atmosphere. Only 14 miles from the Colorado National Monument, and 1 mile to the Western Colorado Botanical Garden.
Spoke & Vine Motel – Centrally located in Palisade, this is a “freshly reinvented motel…within walking distance of all the food, wine, beer, mead, and fruits your heart desires.”
Hotel Maverick – Located on the campus of Colorado Mesa University, the Mav is a luxurious and modern hotel for your stay.
Colorado Wine Country Inn – This inn is located among the vines in Palisade, with a romantic and Victorian feel.
DoubleTree by Hilton
Two Rivers Winery & Chateau
Unique Airbnbs and Vacation Rentals in Grand Junction
Thimble Rock Point – Located outside GJ, this A-frame cabin is a unique stay in the area.
Camp Eddy – An airstream & tiny home glamping campground located along the river in GJ – with paddleboarding and ziplining nearby!
Glamping in Gateway – An hour south of GJ near Gateway is this glamping getaway.
Resort-like Adobe At Colorado Monument – This adobe-style house located near the Colorado National Monument is newly renovated and an absolutely gorgeous spot for your elopement trip
Chic 2 Bedroom Cottage with Monument Views – This private cottage is not only stylish but sits at the base of the Colorado National Monument, a perfect hub for your stay here.
Downtown Townhome – This newly-built townhome in downtown Grand Junction offers a beautiful and modern stay right in the heart of the valley.
The Bees Knees Bungalow – This funky bungalow offers a unique and comfy stay for your time here in Grand Junction.
Animal Sanctuary Guest House – Located “on the banks of the Colorado River in Palisade’s wine country , fishing lake w canoe, kayaks, paddle boards fishing deck. Alpaca, goats, dogs, cats, pigs, emu, chickens free range the property.
Stylish Relaxing Colorado Apartment – If you’re looking for a stylish stay at insanely affordable rates, this is the spot for you.
Bright & Stylish Near Downtown and University – This is a gorgeous home near downtown Grand Junction and centrally located for a hub for your stay.
Where to Elope in Grand Junction
Colorado National Monument
The Colorado National Monument, locally referred to as “the monument”, is a Moab-esque red rocks park with desert vibes and incredible views. One end of the park is more “ground level” with towering cliffs and pillars for a backdrop, while the other end of the park is moreso a view from the top of the cliffs looking down into the canyons below. There is a permit required to get married here, but it is a super simple process. You can have up to 25 guests as well here. The Monument is most commonly used for a ceremony and portrait space before a reception at another location in town. Click here for more about how to elope at the Colorado National Monument.
Whether you’re a wine lover or just love the romantic ambience of a vineyard, the Palisade area has several wineries that host weddings and elopements. If you’re hosting guests at your elopement it can be a nice way to keep everything centrally located for them as well. A few wineries especially great for a small wedding or elopement are Colterris Overlook, Varaison Vineyards, Twee Wingerd Plaas, Amy’s Courtyard at Maison la Belle Vie, Mesa Park Vineyards, Peach Fork Orchards & Vineyard, and Restoration Vineyards.
Western Colorado Botanical Gardens
While it’s not as elaborate as a metro area botanical gardens, Western Colorado Botanical Gardens is a beautiful setting with multiple location options for your elopement. From the Rainforest and Butterfly areas to the outdoor landscaping and riverfront location, this garden has a lot to offer at a great rate.
70% of Mesa County is BLM land. From the largest collection of natural arches outside of Moab, to river bluffs and wild desert, there is so much to choose from on local BLM land here in Grand Junction.
Downtown GJ’s newest intimate venue, The Margery Ballroom is a great spot for a reception or gathering after a ceremony out in nature. It is close to tons of lodging, an array of restaurants and breweries, and shopping on Main Street. Its historic vibes offer a really cool downtown ambience for your event.
A Vacation Rental
Booking a vacation rental for your elopement is a great way to have a central hub to host everything at. Please note not all vacation rentals allow gatherings, so if you intend to have any guests you will need to disclose this to the host and get approval before booking! There are a number of great larger rentals in the area that could host your small celebration, or be a gathering point after your ceremony out in the wilderness.
If you’re looking for mountain vibes here in the Grand Junction area, the Grand Mesa is the place to elope. With pines and aspens, views for days, wildflowers in the summer and tons of snow in the winter, it’s an all-around great spot for eloping in Grand Junction. It’s a great escape from the heat in the summer and offers both rustic and secluded spots or you could rent out one of the lodges and cabins on the Mesa for a group.
Restaurants for Your Elopement Dinner
Bin 707 Foodbar – Located near downtown GJ, this restaurant boasts “responsible sourcing from local, Colorado & domestic sources to execute a unique, thoughtful and accessible experience.”
Pêche – Located in Palisade, Pêche’s culinary focus is to allow creativity to flourish.
The Winery – Located in a converted historical carriage house in downtown Grand Junction, the Winery offers an upscale dining experience with great ambience.
626 on Rood – This restaurant offers seasonal American dining and wine bar right off Main Street in Grand Junction.
Devil’s Kitchen – This restaurant provides panoramic views of the Monument landscape from its rooftop location at the Hotel Maverick
Enzo’s Ristorante – Located near the interstate in Grand Junction, this restaurant proclaims, “we believe authentic Italiano should be incredible.”
Ocotillo Restaurant – Located at Redlands Mesa Golf Course, near the Monument, this restaurant offers great food with great views.
Things to Do While in Grand Junction
Outdoor Activities in Grand Junction
Explore the Colorado National Monument
From driving across Rim Rock Drive through the park and stopping at the overlooks, to through-hiking the depths of the canyons, there are so many ways to explore the Colorado National Monument. The most popular hikes in the park are:
Devil’s Kitchen: (rated easy) A 1.9 mile out-and-back trail located at the first stop inside the Grand Junction entrance of the park.
Serpent’s Trail: (rated easy) This 3.4 mile trail was the original road through the monument, and as such winds its way from the Grand Junction entrance up to the first tunnel of the park. It is well-traveled and is easy terrain.
No Thoroughfare Canyon: (rated moderate) This trail starts along the Devil’s Kitchen trail but diverges into the canyon nearby. In the spring the trail boasts of a bubbly spring and larger waterfall farther in.
Liberty Cap: (rated moderate) Located outside the toll entry of the park, this trail ascends 2 miles to “an old remnant sand dune that is slowly succumbing to the forces of erosion.” You can hike this trail from the residential area outside the park to the top of the Rim Rock Road.
Ute Canyon: (rated moderate) This trail makes its way through the entire canyon of the park and can be accessed from either the top or bottom of the trail. There is a set of steep switchbacks to get up from or down to the valley floor. This hike is not for beginners.
Fruita is one of the Mountain Biking meccas of the world. As the city site says, “Take a leisurely ride on the 18 Road Trails and just soak up the peaceful Colorado beauty. Or go for it all out—hit the Kokopelli trails, with steep climbs, hair-raising switchbacks, intense downhills, and technical challenges that test the best.”
Take a Hike
Outside of the Colorado National Monument there are lots of areas to hike around Grand Junction as well. The Fruita Paleo area offers unique views at the base of the monument, with a self-guided tour of Paleontological sites around the trail. If dinosaurs are your interest, hike Riggs Hill or Dinosaur Hill, quarry sites where Elmer Riggs and his team dug up the first Brachiosaurus and Apatosaurus skeleton. Other great hikes in the area include:
Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area
Old Spanish Trail
Trail Through Time
Rattlesnake Canyon Arches
Climb Mt. Garfield
Locals often use Mount Garfield to train before tackling a Fourteener. This challenging hike ascends 2,000 feet of elevation in just 2 miles and is rated strenuous. The views from the top look pretty incredible though!
Zipline over the Colorado River
The newest attraction to Grand Junction is the riverfront zipline. As their site says, “Adventure seekers will be suspended above the stunning western Colorado landscape, while enjoying the stunning views of the Colorado National Monument, Bookcliffs, Mt. Garfield and the Grand Mesa.”
Paddleboard Connected Lakes or Butterfly Pond
Part of the James Robb State Park in the area, Connected Lakes is a great spot right in town to find shaded picnic areas and paddleboarding. By the riverfront park with the zipline, there is also a manmade pond for paddleboarding.
Float the River
Locals like to hop on the river to float from Palisade to Fruita as relief from the summer heat. If the real river is too frightening, the Riverfront at Las Colonias offers a lazy river to cool off in.
Ride your townie down the Riverfront Trail across the valley
Spanning from Palisade to Fruita, this paved pathway traverses the valley and offers walking, rollerskating and biking.
Explore Downtown Grand Junction
Shop Downtown GJ
Some of my favorite shops downtown are:
- Loki Gear Outerwear
- Heirlooms for Hospice
- Robin’s Nest Antiques
- Seasons to Follow
- Board Fox Games
- Enstrom Toffee
- Out West Books
- Main Street Minerals and Beads
- The Gear Junction
Enjoy the Art on the Corner art displays
Art on the Corner is “a year-round outdoor sculpture exhibit displayed in Downtown Grand Junction and is one of the first of its kind in the country. The display is free to the public and includes more than 100 sculptures in a variety of mediums and styles.”
Hit a brewery
There are many breweries popping up around downtown!
- Ramblebine Brewing Company
- Foam & Folly
- Gemini Beer Co.
- Monumental Beer Works
- Trail Life Brewing
- Rockslide Brewery
Grab breakfast or coffee
Thursday night Farmer’s Markets
The Farmer’s Market in Grand Junction is every week on Thursday evenings and usually runs from June to September. Other Farmer’s Markets in the area include Palisade’s on Sundays, Fruita’s on Saturdays.
Things to do in Palisade
Tour the wineries of Palisade
Enjoy a cocktail at a local distillery
Hike the Palisade Rim Trail
Grab tacos and tequila from Fidel’s
Hit the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market during the season
Ski Powderhorn or bike the mountain in summer
Fish one of the 300 lakes on the Grand Mesa
Enjoy the wildflowers
Watch the dog sledding events in the winter
Camp in a campground or at one of the cabin resorts
Festivals in Grand Junction
Fruita Fat Tire Festival (May)
Lavender Festival (June)
Palisade Bluegrass Festival (June)
Mike the Headless Chicken Festival (June)
Peach Fest (August)
Colorado Mountain Winefest (Sept)
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