A Grand Timeline from Red Rocks to Vineyards at Colorado National Monument

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Biking past vineyards and the Grand Mesa in Colorado

Biking in wine country near the Grand Mesa in Colorado

Just 30 miles from the Utah border, Grand Junction sits in the heart of Colorado’s red-rock country. It was named after the Grand River, which was renamed the Upper Colorado River in 1921, and the junction of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. How has it gone from a western backwater to the heart of Colorado’s outdoor recreation and wine country? Here’s how it has evolved into what it is today.

A Grand Timeline

Independence Monument and the Book Cliffs in Colorado National Monument, with the town of Fruita in the background

1.5-.17 Billion Years Ago

Geological features begin forming the Colorado National Monument, but the monument isn't established until 1911. Stay at the Saddlehorn Campground, perched above the canyons, and stroll to the visitor center.

140 Million Years Ago

Dinosaurs thrive, leaving behind footprints and bones. See fossils at the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita or on the 1.5-mile Trail Through Time 26 miles west of Grand Junction.

Basalt tops Colorado's Grand Mesa

10 Million Years Ago

Hard volcanic basalt seals the top of the Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-top mesa with an area of 500 square miles, laying the foundation for future outdoor fun. Today travelers can camp, bike and fish in summer and ski Powderhorn Mountain Resort in winter.

200 A.D.-1300

The valley’s first residents, the Fremonts, pave the way for future inhabitants.


The Utes move in, following migrating herds. Three hundred years later, Spanish and Mexican soldiers, priests and explorers visit. The U.S. gains control from Mexico in 1848. In 1881 the Utes are forced on a reservation.

Vineyard near Grand Junction, Colo.


City founder George A. Crawford plants grapes on 60 acres near Palisade. Prohibition wipes out Colorado's wine industry.

1970s to Today

Grapes are planted, giving rise to today's vibrant wine scene. Go to Rapid Creek Cycles in Palisade to pick up a wine/orchard map and a cruiser bike with a basket large enough to fit your purchases. Or stop at the Grand Junction Visitor Center for a valley wine map and advice.


Panorama of Colorado National Monument in western Colorado

Desert Solitaire at Colorado National Monument

On the central edge of Colorado, sits Colorado National Monument, a spectacular, crumbling stretch of land filled with decaying red rock and deep canyons.

Monolith in Monument Canyon at Colorado National Monument

Where to Stay at Colorado National Monument

Make the most out of your trip to Colorado’s Western Slope with our hotels and camping guide.

Kayaking on Grand Lake in Grand County Colorado

Grand Adventures in Grand County, Colorado

Leaning up against the national park's west side, Grand County offers unparalleled outdoor opportunities without the crowds most ski towns have.

Feature image for Map of Colorado National Monument

Official Colorado National Monument Map PDF

Download the official map to find your way around Colorado National Monument including Rim Rock Road, trails, entrances and visitor center.

Kids touch dinosaur bones at Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument on the Colorado-Utah Border

A massive piece of protected land at the northern state border of Colorado and Utah, sits one of the world's richest dinosaur deposits.

Sunrise reflection at Grand Lake, Colo.

Grand Lake at the West Entrance Town to Rocky Mountain National Park

Grand Lake, Colo. is located just one mile from the West Entrance of the park and is home to the largest and deepest natural alpine lake in the state.

Steamboat Rock in Dinosaur National Monument

A Jurassic Journey through Moffat County, Colorado

Rugged and wild, Moffat County is Colorado’s last frontier where wide open spaces hold treasures too rare to be missed.

Elk lounging in the mountainside in Rocky Mountain National Park

Where Can I See Wild Animals in Colorado's National Parks?

Home to thousands of elk, mule deer, marmots, bighorns, and the occasional black bear.

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Painted Hand Pueblo

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument near Mesa Verde

Twelve miles from Mesa Verde, this national monument often falls off travelers' radar screens, making it a fantastic place to discover solitude and ancient history.