39.0639° N, 108.5506° W
BELOW IS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MOUNTAIN BIKING IN GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO - INCLUDING THE BEST TIME TO ADVENTURE, WHAT TO BRING AND THE BEST TRAILS TO EXPLORE.
Grand Junction, Colorado was recently ranked as one of the best outdoor adventure towns by the Matador Network, and after scouring Google Maps you will likely be able to see why. This exciting town in the heart of Western Colorado is surrounded by multiple unique natural features - including the Colorado National Monument and the Grand Mesa - many of which are home to many outdoor adventures like hiking, mountain biking, canyoneering and climbing.
While there are a lot of adventure opportunities to pursue in the Grand Junction area, in our opinion, what really makes this area stand out is its super fun mountain bike trails. From fast and flowy trails all the way up to super technical and steep routes, the mountain bike trails in Grand Junction really have something for every type of bike rider (including riders who are just getting into mountain biking).
Below you will find lots of helpful information about mountain biking in the Grand Junction area (including the best time of year to visit) as well as a list of the 17 best mountain bike trails to explore (plus five of our absolute favorites). So with that, let's get exploring!
THE BEST TIME TO MOUNTAIN BIKE IN GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO
Spring and fall are by far the best times to mountain bike in Grand Junction and the rest of Western Colorado.
Between the months of April and May you can expect nice sunny days, temperatures in the mid-70s (around 22° C) and lots of wildflowers. In fact, even though we spent a spring season in Crested Butte, Colorado - the Wildflower Capitol of the state - we found ourselves just as in awe of the desert wildflowers near Grand Junction as we did in the mountains near Crested Butte.
Likewise, in the fall - especially during the month of October - you will find many trees in the Grand Valley have changed color; including, many of the large trees along the Colorado River. This is also the time of year when the temperatures start to cool down and nights begin to get a bit chilly.
During the winter (November - February) and summer (June - August) months, the temperatures are usually just a bit too harsh for mountain biking in Grand Junction. In truth, during the winter, snow is possible (though not very common) and the wind can make the somewhat manageable temperature feel even colder. Similarly, unless you are planning to ride early in the morning, the summer temperatures and intense sun exposure makes mountain biking a boiling and sweaty affair - especially since shade is hard to come by along many of the mountain bike trails.
❔ GOOD TO KNOW: while almost all of the Grand Junction mountain bike trails will be cleared of snow and have perfect temperatures by late April, you can unfortunately still expect a good amount of snow up in the Grand Mesa until late May and even into June. If you are looking to mountain bike up in the mesa, we suggest planning to do it in mid-June to early July.
WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU MOUNTAIN BIKING IN GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO
Due to Grand Junction's rougher high desert terrain, you are going to want to come prepared with plenty of mountain bike gear - especially if you are planning to head out onto some of the more backcountry trails. Below are a few important things to have with you while mountain biking in Western Colorado.
LONG SLEEVED SUN SHIRT
Nothing ruins a day out on the trails faster than getting too much sun exposure (or worse, a sunburn). Therefore it is definitely recommended that you wear a shirt that helps block the sun's harmful rays (in Grand Junction the sun is extra intense due to the elevation). If planning to mountain bike in the area, make sure to wear a shirt that protects your full upper body - like this one by Backcountry. Plus, it's also a great idea if you are planning to ride some more technical sections for the long sleeves will also give your skin that extra layer of protection in case you take a tumble.
See our recommended sun shirt here.
Just like too much sun exposure can turn a great day out on the trails into a less than optimal experience, so can riding all day without proper paddy on your bum. Because let's be real, bike seats are not very comfortable and after 10+ miles on the saddle your booty will start to feel a little tender. Luckily, bike shorts can help curb some of this pain. This pair by PEARL iZUMi are comfortable, breathable and stylish.
See our recommended bike shorts here.
WATER BLADDER AND BACKPACK
Many of the Western Colorado mountain bike trailheads do NOT have water available so you will definitely want to show up prepared - especially if you are planning to ride during the middle of the day when the sun is at its fullest or if you are looking to do a big ride. This water bladder and bag combo from CamelBak holds 9 liters of water and still has plenty of room to spare for stuff like snacks, extra layers and your phone.
See our recommended biking bag here.
This handy toolkit comes with everything you would need to fix all kinds of mishaps while out mountain biking in Grand Junction (or anywhere else for that matter). This lightweight toolkit can easily be stored in your biking bag or left in your car if you are only planning to do a shorter route.
See our recommended mountain biking toolkit here.
A BIKE BELL
Another helpful thing to have with you while out mountain biking - especially on the more curvy mountain bike trails in Grand Junction - is a bike bell. This is just an easier (and slightly more courteous) way to let people know that you are coming down the trail. This one by Knog is simple and efficient.
See our recommended bike bell here.
Rounding out the list of things you should definitely bring with you while mountain biking in Grand Junction (and mountain biking in general) is a solid helmet that not only keeps your head safe, but is also comfortable enough to wear all day long. This one by Giro comes in a couple of fun colors, is very comfortable and lightweight and has enhanced breathability for when you start to climb and the sweat begins to pour down.
See our recommended mountain biking helmet here.
MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL RATINGS | WHAT TO KNOW
Just like with many other sports - most notably skiing or snowboarding - there is a clear difficulty rating system for mountain bike trails; in this case, the ratings are based on 5 things:
| Trail width
| Tread surface
| Average trail grade
| Maximum trail grade
| Natural obstacles and technical features
Below is a brief outline of what you can expect from each trail rating - which is super helpful to know if you are new to the sport and are trying to figure out what kind of trails you should do (or not do... yet). The trail rating information below is according to IMBA (or the International Mountain Biking Association).
GREEN CIRCLE | BEGINNER
Trails that are labeled as green circle will have 36" trail width, firm and stable surfaces, a 5% or less climbing grade and a max of 15% climbing grade. Also, you can expect some small unavoidable obstacles on the trail (like rocks and logs).
BLUE SQUARE | INTERMEDIATE
On trails that are labeled as blue square you can expect 24" trail width, mostly stable surfaces with some variability, a climbing grade between 10% and max of 15%, unavoidable obstacles that are max 8" tall and some natural bridges that you cannot avoid.
BLACK DIAMOND | EXPERT
On trails that are labeled as black diamond you can expect 12" trail width, surfaces that are widely variable, a climbing grade at around 15%, some unavoidable obstacles that are max 15" tall and many loose rocks. Also, there is a likelihood of coming across multiple technical features that can be up to 48" high.
DOUBLE BLACK DIAMOND | SUPER EXPERT
On these expert level trails you can expect routes with 6" trail width, highly variable and unpredictable surfaces, an average trail grade of 20% or more, unavoidable obstacles that are max 15" tall, many sections of loose rocks and unavoidable bridges that may be less than 24" wide. Finally, many trail sections can exceed this criteria and be even more technical (be prepared to test yourself).
Besides these four clear ratings, you may also find trails that fit between - like a trail that is rated Green/Blue, or more commonly, a trail that is rated Blue/Black.
➳ Find the full guide on trail difficulty ratings here.