The desert mountains and cliffs that make up the Bookcliffs (also sometimes spelled Book Cliffs) stretch almost 200 miles across western Colorado and eastern Utah. In Grand Junction, they define the region’s impressive skyline and offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun and recreation.
The next time you want to explore something new on the Western Slope, head out to these top hiking, camping, climbing, and wildlife watching spots.
There are tons of hiking opportunities in the Bookcliffs, and it’s possible you’ll have portions of the trail all to yourself. Here are two hikes to get you started:
This moderate trail covers approximately 5 miles and will give you a bit of a history lesson along the way.
Stagecoach Trail is part of a route that was used by the stage line that once ran between Grand Junction and the Grand Valley. You’ll see remains of that old transport line as you hike and imagine what it must have been like to travel across this rough terrain in a stagecoach!
Mt. Garfield is a local favorite for good reason. You’ll snag impressive views of the entire Grand Valley region on this short-but-steep trek, and it’s a great trail to bring your dog on. It’s best to hike this trail on a clear day when you can see more of the Valley and beyond.
The land is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), meaning camping in the Bookcliffs is free and straightforward. You can camp anywhere on public BLM land, but seeking out existing sites with fire rings is always a good way to minimize impact on the environment.
For a taste of what you might experience on your next Bookcliffs camping trip, check out this backpacking trip report of one man’s camping adventure in the Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area.
One of the biggest draws to the Bookcliffs is the wildlife, especially the wild horses. You can spot the horses along many trails in the area (like the Stagecoach Trail), but there are some spots that are better than others.
Marty Felix, a longtime lover of this special horse herd, suggests the following locations within the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area, best accessed with a high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle:
Before you go, don’t forget to review wildlife safety tips. The most magical part of seeing these animals is patiently observing them in their natural habitats, so respect their space and enjoy the moment.