There’s nothing like a girls’ getaway to re-charge the batteries and leave behind the stress of our busy lives and daily obligations. Girls’-only adventures give us an opportunity to explore the world and have fun differently than with our partners or families. Travelling with our BFFs allows us the time to bond over unlimited deep conversations about life and share some laughs over who we want to get the final rose on the Bachelor.
And what better time for a getaway than fall time; kids are back to school, and there are fewer tourists, therefore, fewer crowds and lower prices. With the cooler temperatures, it’s fun to get active without over-heating or working up too much of a sweat.
When it comes to adventure, Colorado’s Grand Junction is the perfect destination. This is a small city with a wild-west flare, located on the high desert lands of western Colorado on the banks of the Colorado River. About 50 kilometres away from the Utah border, Grand Junction has a semi-arid climate and is full of unique, spectacular red rock canyons, mountains, mesas and bluffs.
Here are five reasons you should collect your girl-posse and head to Grand Junction for the perfect girls’ adventure getaway.
Eat Fantastic Food
Great food is a must, but the pleasure gets bumped up when we eat at a restaurant which has great ambience, and Grand Junction has plenty of options.
Located in the Grand Valley, this area has been a significant fruit-growing and agricultural region since the 19th century. With such great local produce, it’s no surprise that the farm to table food movement is alive and well here. There’s no better place to experience fresh, organic ingredients than at Café Sol, where they scratch-make their scrumptious soups, salads and paninis.
For a touch of upscale (yet casual), try dinner at 626 on Rood, where they offer weekly specials based on seasonal produce, ranging from Colorado rack of lamb to proteins cooked with regional fruits like sweet cheeks peaches and roasted Palisade plums or even lavender—all with an impeccable presentation.
Creative quinoa dish at Bin 707 FoodbarAnother great choice for seasonal Colorado cuisine is Bin 707 Food Bar. The décor is modern, and you can saunter up to the bar or sit at one of the tables covered with brown wrapping paper. The menu is adventurous, with offerings like juniper and sage-brined pork loin, or you can stick with the classic Bin burger, served with beehive white cheddar and truffle fries.
Drink Wonderful Wine
And, of course, where there’s food, there must be wine. With Grand Junction and nearby Palisade being vineyard country with more than 20 wineries, you won’t want to miss a wine-tasting tour. You can do a driving tour, but to up the adventure-factor, you will want to rent a bike at Rapid Creek Cycles (tip: an e-bike is a good choice, as some of the vineyards are a fair distance apart). The backroads in the Palisade region where the bulk of the vineyards sit are picturesque making cycling a fun way to experience the sights, smells and sounds of the valley in a slowed-down way. Winery must-stops are Colterris and Red Fox Cellars. If you have a hankering for a beer or some spirits while you’re cruising, check out the Palisade Brewing Company and Peach Street Distillers.
Move It, Move It, Move It
Snow in the winter in Grand Junction is nil to minimal, meaning many outdoor activities are accessible all year round. The area is becoming famous for its mountain biking, but unlike nearby Moab, in Grand Junction, you can avoid the crowds. According to George Gatseos, owner of Over the Edge Sports, you can generally mountain bike except between mid-December and the end of January.
For a milder mountain-biking experience, suitable no matter the ability of your girl group, check out the Lunch Loops trails just outside of town. Here, you’ll have your pick of over 32 kilometres of trails and get an elevation of up to 610 metres.
If you’re on the novice end of the sport, when you pick up your bike rental at Over the Edge Sports, hire a guide as well. A guide can give you tips on how to approach the terrain as you go, making it a fun, safe experience. When you get to the top (and yes, it’s okay to get off and push your bike up the hill), you get stunning views of the surrounding red canyon formations, the Grand Mesa and the Colorado National Monument.
For some stellar hiking (and more stunning views of the valley), head over to the Colorado National Monument park where you will find 11 red rock canyons and 20,000 acres of arched windows, majestic rock spires and towering national monoliths (tip: watch for desert bighorn sheep on the road on the way up). There are hiking trails galore, ranging from 15-minute hikes to overnight trips that will have you ogling over the red canyon panoramas. Be sure to take time to go through the park interpretive centre to learn about the indigenous critters and flora in this pinyon-juniper woodland.
Relax Into Spa-Time
A girls’ getaway must include some pampering, so make the winding drive through the picturesque rangeland of the Unaweep Canyon (just the scenic drive through the red rock canyon, filled with scrub brush, tumbleweeds, yellow rabbit brush and bighorn sheep makes it worth it) to the spa at Gateway Resort. This resort, created by John Hendricks, founder of Discovery Channel, is set against a backdrop of the Palisade, a giant red sandstone landmark, and its unique adobe architecture blends perfectly with the surroundings. After your massage, relax in the outdoor whirlpool and enjoy the views and positive vibrations.
Push the Adventure Envelope
To get the adrenaline pumping, go stand-up paddle boarding on the Colorado River. Again, a guide, like those available at Rim Rock Ranch, can be a good idea, so they can direct you how to navigate the rapids and avoid bottoming out on rocky shoals. The good news is if you do fall in, even in autumn, the water is relatively warm. If the river’s too high for SUP, arrange a thrilling rafting adventure with one of the local outfitters.
Another way to up the fun factor is to try some off-roading in a utility-terrain vehicle at Gateway Resort. Guides will take you up through the backroads and 150 million-year-old formations to lookout spots at the top where they will regale you with entertaining stories about the history of the valley and its colourful characters. A shared envelope-pushing adventure will give you and your BFFs something to talk about for years to come.