Grand Junction, Colorado. Running. And beer. And food.

I spent a few days in Grand Junction, Colorado recently.  For anyone not familiar, Grand Junction is on the west side of Colorado – up and over the mountains from Denver, about 4 hours to the west.  I got out for a run in the Colorado National Monument, which is just west of town.  I did a loop from the Lower Monument Canyon trailhead that went up Monument Canyon, then down Wedding Canyon.  The whole thing ended up being 5 miles, but would have been shorter if I hadn’t done some bonus distance going a little further past my turnoff to Wedding Canyon and then doubling back up the trail at the end just to hit 5 miles.  Yes, that is a little OCD.

The run wasn’t too difficult overall.  It starts out pretty gentle, but gets fairly steep about a half mile in.  That lasts for another mile or so, then the climb is more gradual.  It will take you under a pretty cool cliff face and boulder field.  The boulders are pretty impressive – they look like they could have just fallen off the rocks above and they are HUGE!

It really reminded me just how short-lived, fragile and insignificant we humans really are.

Survey marker.
A survey marker in the middle of the trail in Monument Canyon.  I don’t know why I take pictures of all of these that I come across!

After a couple miles you’ll hit the intersection with Wedding Canyon and have a great view of Independence Monument.  Here, I took a short trip up the Monument Canyon trail, thinking that I may be able to circle the monument.  No luck there, but I’d definitely recommend going on up just to get a different view of the monument.  It’s pretty impressive.  There was a group of climbers on top of it while I was there that I couldn’t see from the other side.  The Monument Canyon trail is well maintained and in good shape. It’s all very runnable, but I did have to walk a lot due to the incline.

Be sure to take the time to admire the views and the amazing canyon landscape.  Take a look back down the trail every now and then and you might see this guy:

Muppet rock in Monument Canyon.
Muppet rock in Monument Canyon.

You’ll miss him if you don’t.

The descent was much different than the ascent.  Be sure to note the signs letting you know that Wedding Canyon

is an unimproved trail.  That is accurate.  If you had a hard time with the terrain on the way up Monument Canyon, you may want to reconsider going down Wedding Canyon.  I really liked it, but I’m weird that way.  There were many areas that I couldn’t run, even going downhill, and a couple that were even hard to walk through without using my hands. The steep, technical descent only lasts for a while, though, maybe a mile and half or so.  Then you get down to a more runnable, but still unimproved, area as the canyon opens up.  You’ll eventually intersect the Monument Canyon trail, a hundred yard or so up from the trailhead.

Scraggly tree.
Scraggly tree near top of Wedding Canyon.

I also dropped in on Kannah Creek Brewery, to two of their locations.  The one in Fruita, which I understand is fairly new, and the one on 12th street in Grand Junction.  Both had great service with friendly staff.  I wasn’t bowled over by the beers – I tried their Broken Oar IPA, Chill Pils Pilsner and Apricot Blonde.  The IPA is a more traditional English style, so not the super-hopped “American” style that I usually see.  That was a nice change.  As much as I like the super hoppiness of a lot of our IPA’s, I am starting to think it’s a little overdone and am getting a little tired of it.  The pilsner was ok, but not one of my favorites of that style.  The apricot was a “gift” from my wife, who ordered it but didn’t drink it.

The food was pretty good at the Fruita location.  We had a table of 9 adults and 3 kids.  Most everyone liked the food, but no one was overly impressed by it.  But, at the Grand Junction location I shared a chicken, avocado and bacon pizza with my wife which was really tasty.  Definitely one of the best pizzas I’ve had and one that I’d highly recommend.  I’ll go back just for it the next time I’m in the area.