Mesa County road rides: Colorado National Monument, Fruita and Grand Junction | PostIndependent.com

Mesa County road rides: Colorado National Monument, Fruita and Grand Junction

Getting there: There are two entrances to Colorado National Monument: an eastern entrance near Grand Junction and a western entrance closer to Fruita. If you're traveling westbound, the most direct route will be exit 31 onto Horizon Drive in Grand Junction. Signs will guide you to the eastern entrance. If you're heading eastbound on Interstate 70, take exit 19 in Fruita. Turn south on Highway 340, which will take you to the west entrance. This entrance also is better for people who get nervous at great heights. If you enter the park by bicycle using one of the suggested rides below, it's a $5 fee. Private vehicles are $15, or $10 for a motorcycle.

Trail talk: Note that there's road construction planned for much of 2018. Check nps.gov/colm for updates, as this could affect your rides.

REDLANDS LOOP

Distance: 32 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate

The dirt: This ride provides up-close views of the Colorado National Monument and Grand Junction, and it climbs a little more than 1,100 feet. This is a great ride any time of year, but especially in the fall with the changing leaves.

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The loop through the Redlands runs along the bottom of the monument. Park for free at Lunch Loop Trails, and then take a left out of the parking lot. Head toward the monument's entrance, and take a right on South Camp Road. Folow South Camp and take a left on South Broadway. The road skirts along the Colorado National Monument and passes Tiara Rado Golf Course. Turn left on East ½ Road. You'll come to a stop at Broadway, which also is Highway 340. Follow it to Fruita, and go over the interstate. Turn right at the light, go through the roundabout and go to the second exit, which turns into Aspen Street. Then continue on J6/10. Turn right on 19 Road. Turn left on J Road. Follow it to 24 Road and take a right. Follow 24 Road back to South Camp, turn left, and take the route back to the trailhead.

HIGHLINE LAKE

Distance: 30 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate

The dirt: This ride goes through the agriculture country of the Grand Valley and brings you to Highline Lake State Park, which features big, grassy areas, a large lake filled with trout, bass and other fish and views of the Bookcliffs and the Colorado National Monument. This ride has rolling hills, and it's a nice way to get miles in.

Start at Little Salt Wash Park, but head south on 18 Road. Turn right on East Ottley Road. Stop by City Market to grab some snacks for a small picnic. Then turn right on 17 Road and head north. Continue until you reach P Road, turn right on 16 Road, then turn left on Q Road. Follow Q until you reach 12 1/2 Road. Turn left. Then right onto 12 Road, then right again on 11 8/10 Road. You will be at Highline Lake.

WEST SIDE MONUMENT HILL CLIMB

Distance: 42 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

This ride features around 5,000 feet of climbing and views that pan across the whole valley. It's to be done once in your life. Don't forget money, lights and strong lungs.

Start, again, at Little Salt Wash Park. Head south on 18 Road/Pine Street, and take a right on East Ottley. Take a left on North Cherry Street, which leads over the interstate. Continue south around the roundabouts and continue on Highway 340. Eventually, the entrance to the Colorado National Monument will come up on the right. Remember that lights are required on both the front and back of the bike for safety purposes. Once you begin heading down on the east side, you will be in Grand Junction. Take a left on South Camp Road. It will wind through the neighborhoods of the Redlands. Take a left on South Broadway. It again winds through neighborhoods and passes by a golf course. Take a left at E 1/2 Road. You will eventually end up at a stop sign, which is again Broadway/Highway 340. Take a left. Be cautious as this road has a lot of fast-moving traffic. Follow the road back over the interstate and left back on K Road. You'll end up back at Little Salt Wash Park.