The Colorado Riverfront Trail System is a gem of the Grand Valley. If you haven’t been there lately, then it’s time to plan an outing.
Spanning just over 22 miles from Heritage Park in Fruita to Riverbend Park in Palisade, this path celebrates the beauty of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers. The trail is paved and connects several parks, lakes, and other recreational locations for a multitude of outdoor opportunities. It’s the perfect spot for a walk, run, bike ride, rollerblade adventure, or just some quiet reflection time while sitting on the riverbank.
From west to east, here’s your guide to this lovely trail system.
Head over to Heritage Park in Fruita to begin your trip. Take your time and soak in the views of the Colorado National Monument as you head toward the Walter Walker State Wildlife Area. The first part of the trail does run parallel to I-70, but don’t worry — the scenery gets better.
You’ll know the Monument View section is ending once you reach a fork in the trail. The northern branch of the fork takes you to the Blue Heron Section, which runs from Redlands Parkway to Highway 340.
This part of the trail is named after Blue Heron Lake, which is a great spot to watch for blue heron. Along this stretch you’ll experience landscape views such as woodlands, marshy areas, and bald eagles – if you’re lucky.
Once you reach Highway 340, the Audubon Section starts. It’s a relatively secluded and wooded part of the trail. The environment here attracts a variety of birds, including blue heron, osprey, owls, and hawks.
A particularly scenic stretch of the trail, the Riverside Section winds through the area where the Gunnison and Colorado rivers meet. It ends at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens and Butterfly House, which is a great family-friendly place to stop.
The 130-acre Las Colonias Park is the namesake for this part of the trail system and it’s worth a detour to check out the amphitheater, use the restrooms, fill up your water bottle, and just relax while enjoying the park.
Next up, you can continue along the trail toward James M. Robb Colorado River State Park. Entering the park requires purchase of a park pass, but once you’re in you can enjoy fishing, boating, swimming, and more.
Continuing along, the trail heads toward Clifton Nature Park. This section of the trail is perfect for anyone seeking rural solitude — horses graze in the nearby pastures and birds flock to the river’s calm waters.
It’s the home stretch! The eastern section of the trail culminates in Palisade, where the main attraction is Riverbend Park. You’ll experience expansive views of the Bookcliffs, the Grand Mesa, and the area’s abundant orchards and wineries that stretch throughout the Grand Valley.
Palisade is also the perfect spot to grab a bench along the river and relax (especially if you’ve completed the entire 22.1 miles). End your day of Western Colorado exploration by visiting the wineries and orchards in town.
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