Grand Junction, Colorado
Colorado Wine Country, River City
|Coordinates: 39°04′N108°34′W / 39.067°N 108.567°W|
|County||Mesa County seat |
|Incorporated||July 22, 1882 |
|Named for||Confluence of Grand River and Gunnison River|
|• Type||Home Rule Municipality|
|• Mayor||Anna Stout|
|• City Manager||Greg Caton|
|• Total||40.077 sq mi (103.799 km2)|
|• Land||39.634 sq mi (102.652 km2)|
|• Water||0.443 sq mi (1.147 km2)|
|Elevation||4,593 ft (1,397 m)|
|• Rank||17th in Colorado|
|• Density||1,654/sq mi (639/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−07:00 (MST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−06:00 (MDT)|
|ZIP Codes |
|GNIS feature ID||0204662|
|Highways||I-70, U.S. Highway 6, U.S. Highway 50, CO SH 340, CO SH 141, CO SH 139|
Grand Junction is a home rule municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Mesa County, Colorado, United States.  The city population was 65,560 at the 2020 United States Census, making Grand Junction the 17th most populous Colorado municipality and the most populous city in western Colorado. 
Grand Junction is 247 miles (398 km) west-southwest of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. The city has a council–manager form of government.  It is a major commercial and transportation hub within the large area between the Green River and the Continental Divide, and the largest city in Colorado outside of the Front Range Corridor.
The city is along the Colorado River, at its confluence with the Gunnison River, which comes in from the south. "Grand" refers to the historical Grand River; it was renamed the Upper Colorado River in 1921. "Junction" refers to the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. Grand Junction has been nicknamed "River City". It is near the midpoint of a 30-mile (48 km) arcing valley, known as the Grand Valley; since the late 19th century it has been a major fruit-growing region. The valley was long occupied by the Ute people and earlier indigenous cultures. It was not settled by European-American farmers until the 1880s. Since the late 20th century, several wineries have been established in the area.
The Colorado National Monument, a unique series of canyons and mesas, overlooks the city on the west. Most of the area is surrounded by federal public lands managed by the US Bureau of Land Management. Interstate 70 connects the city eastward to Glenwood Springs and Denver and westward to Green River, Utah; Salt Lake City is reached to the west via Interstate 70 and U.S Route 6; and Las Vegas (via Interstate 70 and Interstate 15).
In September 1881, the former Ute Indian Territory was abolished and the Utes were forced into a reservation so that the U.S. government could open the area to settlers. Clinton County, Pennsylvania-born George Addison Crawford (1827–91) soon purchased a plot of land.  On July 22, 1882, he incorporated the town of Grand Junction and planted Colorado's first vineyard near Palisade, Colorado, causing the area to become known as the Colorado Wine Country. Grand Junction also has a storied past with gunfighters, miners, and early settlers of the American Southwest.
At the 2020 United States Census, the city had a total area of 25,649 acres (103.799 km2) (40.077 sq mi) including 283 acres (1.147 km2) (.443 sq mi) of water. 
Grand Junction has a cold semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk). Grand Junction sits in a large area of high desert lands in Western Colorado. Winters are cold and dry, with a January mean temperature of 27.4 °F (−2.6 °C). Due to its location west of the Rockies, Grand Junction does not receive as much influence from the Chinook winds as locations in Colorado east of the Front Range, yet it does receive protection from the Arctic air masses that can settle to the east of the Rockies. This is illustrated by the fact that from December to February, highs reach 50 °F (10 °C) only 18 days.  Lows drop to 0 °F (−17.8 °C) or below on 2.9 nights per year.  Snowfall is low compared to much of the rest of the state, averaging 17.6 inches (45 cm) per season; only once in the entire period of record dating to 1893, has observed 10 inches (25 cm) in a calendar day, though the median is 6.3 inches (16.0 cm), and moreover, snow cover is intermittent.  Snow is greatest in December and January. Spring warming is gradual but quickens when nearing June; the average last freeze date is April 25. Summer is hot and dry, with a July mean temperature of 78.2 °F (25.7 °C). Grand Junction averages 68 days a year with temperatures at 90 °F (32 °C) or above, and an average 8 days attaining 100 °F (38 °C) or more. Autumn cooling is rapid, with the average first freeze date being October 11. The area receives little precipitation year-round, averaging 9.05 inches (229.9 mm), with no real seasonal spike. Sunshine hours are abundant, even in winter, and total just over 3,200 hours per year, or 73% of the possible total. 
|Climate data for Grand Junction, Colorado (Grand Junction Regional Airport), 1991–2020 normals, [lower-alpha 1] extremes 1893–present [lower-alpha 2]|
|Record high °F (°C)||62|
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||49.6|
|Average high °F (°C)||38.1|
|Daily mean °F (°C)||27.7|
|Average low °F (°C)||17.3|
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||3.4|
|Record low °F (°C)||−23|
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.61|
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||4.5|
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||6.3||6.1||6.7||7.1||6.4||3.4||4.8||6.5||6.5||6.2||5.4||6.1||71.6|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||4.6||3.5||1.7||0.7||0.1||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.5||2.0||5.0||18.1|
|Average relative humidity (%)||69.7||60.4||50.1||40.3||36.3||29.4||33.5||36.6||38.8||45.6||58.5||68.0||47.3|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||192.3||204.4||240.9||278.0||328.5||359.3||356.2||329.8||292.2||255.1||186.9||180.0||3,203.6|
|Percent possible sunshine||63||68||65||70||74||81||79||78||78||74||62||61||72|
|Source: NOAA (sun 1961–1990)  |
|U.S. Decennial Census|
Grand Junction is the principal city of the Grand Junction, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area.
As of the census  of 2000, there were 41,986 people, 17,865 households, and 10,540 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,362.6 inhabitants per square mile (526.1/km2). There were 18,784 housing units at an average density of 609.6 per square mile (235.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.78% White, 0.60% African American, 0.94% Native American, 0.76% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 3.81% from other races, and 1.99% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.86% of the population.
There were 17,865 households, out of which 25.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.1% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.0% were non-families. Of all households 33.2% were made up of individuals, and 13.8% had one living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.84.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 21.2% under the age of 18, 11.9% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 22.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.6 males.
The population figures are for Grand Junction only; the city abuts smaller towns and unincorporated county areas which contribute to area commerce.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,152, and the median income for a family was $43,851. Males had a median income of $31,685 versus $22,804 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,692. About 7.5% of families and 11.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.8% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.
From the time settlers arrived in the 1880s until the 1960s, three of the main economic activities in the region were farming, fruit growing, and cattle raising. Fruit orchards, particularly between Grand Junction and Palisade to the east, remain important to the region's reputation and economy to the present day. Fruits most often grown are peaches, pears, apricots, plums, cherries, and, particularly since the 1980s, grapes for wine. In this semi-arid environment, these orchards thrive from a combination of abundant sunshine and irrigation from a system of canals that divert water from the Colorado River.
Attempts were made to establish sugar beet farming and beet sugar production. The Grand Valley Sugar Company established a campaign in 1893, sending three train carloads to the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company. Several tariffs and subsidies to domestic sugar were established in the 1890s, which led to uncertainty in the market. After the 1897 Dingley Act, the company was revived in 1898 and rallied to build a sugar factory. They failed to fundraise to build the plant. At the same time, Charles N. Cox was able to organize an effort to establish a factory in 1898 as well. John F. Campion and others including James Joseph Brown, Eben Smith, Charles E. Mitchell, George Trimble, James R. McKinnie, and Charles Boettcher invested, creating the Colorado Sugar Manufacturing Company in 1899 and contracting E. H. Dyer to build a factory. The failed to succeed, so they sold the plant to local investors, who were able to make it a success. The Campion-Boettcher group then created the Great Western Sugar Company. 
Retail sales have been important to the economy for decades (e.g., gasoline, and hunting and fishing related sales), and uranium mining-related activities have also been significant.  Grand Junction was home to the Climax Uranium Mill, a now decommissioned mill that provided uranium ore to the US Atomic Energy Commission.
Education and healthcare have been important to the economy of the area, especially since the 1950s, with the rise of Colorado Mesa University and St. Mary's Hospital as leading employers in these fields.
Vast oil shale reserves were known to exist near Parachute, Colorado in the Piceance Basin. The oil embargoes of the 1970s and high gas prices resulted in major financial interest in the region. Exxon purchased rights and used Grand Junction as its seat of operations. The city and the surrounding Grand Valley became prosperous in the 1970s and early 1980s largely because of the effects of oil shale development. The United States, western Colorado in particular, has the largest-known concentration of oil shale in the world (according to the Bureau of Land Management) and holds an estimated 800 gigabarrels of recoverable oil, enough to meet U.S. demand for oil at current levels for 110 years. Known as the "Rock That Burns", the shale can be mined and processed to produce oil. In the past it was significantly more expensive than conventional oil. Sustained prices above $95 per barrel, however, may make extraction economically attractive in the coming years (see Oil shale economics). ExxonMobil pulled out of the region because of lower oil prices, which led to economic hardship in the region.
The economic bust, known as "Black Sunday" (May 2, 1982) to the locals, started with a phone call from the president of Exxon to Governor Richard Douglas Lamm, stating that Exxon would cut its losses while retaining mining rights to the (then and currently) uneconomic oil. The economic bust was felt statewide, as Exxon had invested more than US$5 billion in the state. Colorado historian Tom Noel observed, "I think that was a definite turning point, and it was a reminder that we were a boom-and-bust state...There were parallels to the silver crash of 1893." 
By 2008, the economy of Grand Junction appeared to be more diverse and stable than it had been in previous decades. Major contributors to the economy were health care, tourism, agriculture, livestock, and energy mining (gas and oil). Major energy companies had once again invested large amounts of money due to increases in oil and natural gas prices (such as in the years 2005–2008). However, a major drop (in the summer of 2008) of market natural gas prices led to reduced gas well drilling and related capital expenditures in the area, significantly slowing the Grand Junction economy in 2009. Reports given in 2009 suggested that Grand Junction had once again been hard-hit economically, with one report by April 2010 listing the area as having had the largest percentage drop in employment of any "small city" in the entire United States. 
By 2008, Grand Junction was being discovered by the "nation's elite business and leisure travelers" as a destination for private jet travel, with nearby Powderhorn Resort and other ski resorts a major attraction. 
According to the city's 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,  the top employers are:
|#||Employer||Percentage of Total Employees||Number of Employees|
|1||Mesa County Valley School District 51||3.83%||2,715|
|2||St. Mary's Hospital||3.24%||2,300|
|4||State of Colorado||1.43%||1,012|
|5||Colorado Mesa University||1.42%||1,006|
|6||City Markets, Inc.||1.13%||800|
|8||Grand Junction VA Medical Center||1.01%||720|
|9||Star Tek USA||0.99%||700|
|10||City of Grand Junction||0.89%||629|
Grand Junction's Colorado National Monument was home to a stage in the Coors Classic bicycle race known as "The Tour of the Moon" due to the Monument's unique landscape.
Since 1958, the JUCO World Series  has been played at Suplizio Field. The city also has a professional Minor League Baseball team, the Grand Junction Jackalopes, who play in the Pioneer Baseball League.
Both Suplizio Field and Stocker Stadium also host Colorado Mesa University as well as School District 51 sporting events.
The Grand Junction area has developed as a mountain biking destination, with many bikers coming from the Front Range of Colorado, the Salt Lake City area, and as far away as California to enjoy the area's abundant single-track trails. Two prominent trails are the Tabeguache and Kokopelli trails, the latter running from near Loma to Moab, Utah. Fruita, Colorado, with its 18-Road trail system, is within 10 miles of the city and has become a major mountain biking destination.
The Mesa Valley School District No. 51 provides comprehensive K–12 public education to the Grand Junction area.  School District 51 operates five high schools:
In addition, the district operates numerous middle, elementary, and other types of schools, including East Middle School, Redlands Middle School, and West Middle School. District 51 partners with Western Colorado Community College (WCCC) to operate a vocational school, owned and operated by Colorado Mesa University. WCCC was formerly named UTEC.
Colorado Mesa University, a public, four-year, liberal arts college, serves as the primary provider of higher education on the Western Slope from its campus in central Grand Junction. This campus has an average enrollment of just under 10,000 students and offers a variety of degrees, including a Masters in Business Administration, Educational Leadership, and ESOL. The university also operates Western Colorado Community College, which offers associates degrees and professional certificates.
The Grand Junction radio market includes all of Mesa County, Colorado.  Six AM radio stations and more than 25 FM stations are licensed to broadcast from the city.  
Grand Junction is serviced by one local newspaper, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel . The Grand Junction area also receives newspaper influence from sources in the greater Denver front range area.
Grand Junction has ABC, NBC, and CBS television station affiliates under the call signs of KJCT-TV (Channel 8), KKCO-TV (Channel 11), and KREX-TV (Channel 5), respectively. Also, Grand Junction has a Fox (Channel 4) affiliate station under the call sign of KFQX that receives news from the Denver FOX affiliate, KDVR (Channel 31) at 9 pm. KLML (Channel 20) broadcasts Cozi TV programming. KRMJ (Channel 18) is the local PBS affiliate, part of the statewide Rocky Mountain PBS network.
Grand Junction Regional Airport (formerly Walker Field Airport) serves as the major airport in the area. The airport is located in north Grand Junction on Horizon Drive. As of 2011, two-way flights to Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Houston were available.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Grand Junction Station, operating its California Zephyr daily in both directions between Chicago and Emeryville, California, across the bay from San Francisco.
Bustang, Colorado's state-run bus system, provides intercity bus service to the city. There are two bus lines that include Grand Junction. The West line connects to Denver, while the Outrider line connects to Durango. Both of these have multiple stops in between the final destinations, and the West line has options to transfer to alternative lines.
Grand Valley Transit (GVT) is a regional transit system serving the Grand Valley. It operates 11 bus routes in the area as well as a "dial-a-ride" service.
The city also offers a shared micromobility program that was launched in May of 2023. The city has allowed the companies Bird and Lime to rent out the e-scooters via their respective mobile apps. 
Colorado is a state in the Mountain West sub-region of the Western United States. It encompasses most of the Southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. Colorado is the eighth most extensive and 21st most populous U.S. state. The United States Census Bureau estimated the population of Colorado at 5,839,926 as of July 1, 2022, a 1.15% increase since the 2020 United States census.
Mesa County is a county located in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2020 census, the population was 155,703. The county seat and most populous municipality is Grand Junction. The county was named for the many large mesas in the area, including Grand Mesa.
Battlement Mesa is a census-designated place (CDP) and post office in and governed by Garfield County, Colorado, United States. The CDP is a part of the Glenwood Springs, CO Micropolitan Statistical Area. The Battlement Mesa post office has the ZIP Codes 81635 and 81636. At the United States Census 2020, the population of the Battlement Mesa CDP was 5,438. The Battlement Mesa Metropolitan District provides services.
Rifle is a home rule municipality in and the most populous community of Garfield County, Colorado, United States. The population was 10,437 at the 2020 census. Rifle is a regional center of the cattle ranching industry located along Interstate 70 and the Colorado River just east of the Roan Plateau, which dominates the western skyline of the town. The town was founded in 1882 by Abram Maxfield, and was incorporated in 1905 along Rifle Creek, near its mouth on the Colorado. The community takes its name from the creek.
The Town of De Beque is a statutory town located in Mesa County, Colorado. The population was 493 at the time of the 2020 census. De Beque is a part of the Grand Junction, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area. The town consists of a small grid, including a historic downtown featuring a town hall, a tavern, and several commercial businesses in historic structures. The surrounding streets include houses, several churches, and a school.
The City of Fruita is a home rule municipality located in western Mesa County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 13,395 at the 2020 United States Census. Fruita is a part of the Grand Junction, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area and lies within the Grand Valley. The geography is identified by the bordering Colorado River on the southern edge of town, the Uncompahgre Plateau known for its pinyon-juniper landscape, and the Book Cliffs range on the northern edge of the Grand Valley. Originally home to the Ute people, white farmers settled the town after founder William Pabor in 1884. Ten years later, Fruita was incorporated.
Redlands is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) located in and governed by Mesa County, Colorado, United States. It is part of the Grand Junction, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population of the Redlands CDP was 9,061 at the 2020 census. The Grand Junction post office serves the area.
Montrose is a home rule municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Montrose County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 20,291 at the 2020 census, within a total area of 18.5 square miles. The main road that leads in and out of Montrose is U.S. Highway 50. The town is located in western Colorado, in the Uncompahgre Valley, and is an economic, labor, and transportation waypoint for the surrounding recreation industry.
Green River is a city in Emery County, Utah. The population was 847 at the 2020 census.
The Western Slope is the part of the state of Colorado west of the Continental Divide. Bodies of water west of the Divide flow toward the Pacific Ocean; water that falls and flows east of the Divide heads east toward the Gulf of Mexico. The Western Slope encompasses about 33% of the state, but has just 10% of the state's residents. The eastern part of the state, including the San Luis Valley and the Front Range, is the more populous portion of the state.
The Green River, located in the western United States, is the chief tributary of the Colorado River. The watershed of the river, known as the Green River Basin, covers parts of the U.S. states of Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. The Green River is 730 miles (1,170 km) long, beginning in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming and flowing through Wyoming and Utah for most of its course, except for a short segment of 40 miles (64 km) in western Colorado. Much of the route traverses the arid Colorado Plateau, where the river has carved some of the most spectacular canyons in the United States. The Green is slightly smaller than Colorado when the two rivers merge but typically carries a larger load of silt. The average yearly mean flow of the river at Green River, Utah is 6,121 cubic feet (173.3 m3) per second.
Loma is an unincorporated town, post office, and census-designated place (CDP) located in and governed by Mesa County, Colorado, United States. It is part of the Grand Junction, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area. The Loma post office has the ZIP Code 81524. At the 2020 census, the population of the Loma CDP was 1,314.
The Grand Valley is an extended populated valley, approximately 30 miles (48 km) long and 5 miles (8.0 km) wide, located along the Colorado River in Mesa County in western Colorado and Grand County in eastern Utah in the Western United States. The valley contains the city of Grand Junction, as well as other smaller communities such as Fruita and Palisade. The valley is a major fruit-growing region that contains many orchards and vineyards, and is home to one of two designated American Viticultural Areas in Colorado: the Grand Valley AVA. It takes its name from the "Grand River", the historical name of the Colorado River upstream from its confluence with the Green River that was used by locals in the late 19th and early 20th century. The valley is the most densely populated area on the Colorado Western Slope, with Grand Junction serving as an unofficial capital of the region, as a counterpoint to Denver on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains in the Colorado Front Range. Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 6 run through the valley from west-to-east. The Grand Valley is part of the larger Colorado Plateau desert lands.
The Grand Mesa is a large mesa in western Colorado in the United States. It is the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. It has an area of about 500 square miles (1,300 km2) and stretches for about 40 miles (64 km) east of Grand Junction between the Colorado River and the Gunnison River, its tributary to the south. The north side of the mesa is drained largely by Plateau Creek, a smaller tributary of the Colorado. The west side is drained largely by Kannah Creek, which is received to the west by the lower Gunnison River. The mesa rises about 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above the surrounding river valleys, including the Grand Valley to the west, reaching an elevation of about 11,000 feet (3,400 m). Much of the mesa is within Grand Mesa National Forest. Over 300 lakes, including many reservoirs created and used for drinking and irrigation water, are scattered along the top of the formation. The Grand Mesa is flat in some areas, but quite rugged in others.
The geography of the U.S. State of Colorado is diverse, encompassing both rugged mountainous terrain, vast plains, desert lands, desert canyons, and mesas. Colorado is a landlocked U.S. state. In 1861, the United States Congress defined the boundaries of the new Territory of Colorado exclusively by lines of latitude and longitude, stretching from 37°N to 41°N latitude, and from 102°02'48"W to 109°02'48"W longitude. Starting in 1868, official surveys demarcated the boundaries, deviating from the parallels and meridians in several places. Later surveys attempted to correct some of these mistakes but in 1925 the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the earlier demarcation was the official boundary. The borders of Colorado are now officially defined by 697 boundary markers connected by straight boundary lines. Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah are the only states that have their borders defined solely by straight boundary lines with no natural features. The southwest corner of Colorado is the Four Corners Monument at 36°59'56"N, 109°2'43"W. This is the only place in the United States where four states meet: Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.
Interstate 70 (I-70) is a transcontinental Interstate Highway in the United States, stretching from Cove Fort, Utah, to Baltimore, Maryland. In Colorado, the highway traverses an east–west route across the center of the state. In western Colorado, the highway connects the metropolitan areas of Grand Junction and Denver via a route through the Rocky Mountains. In eastern Colorado, the highway crosses the Great Plains, connecting Denver with metropolitan areas in Kansas and Missouri. Bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles, normally prohibited on Interstate Highways, are allowed on those stretches of I-70 in the Rockies where no other through route exists.
U.S. Route 50 (US 50) is a part of the U.S. Highway System that travels from West Sacramento, California, to Ocean City, Maryland. In the U.S. state of Colorado, US 50 is a major highway crossing through the lower midsection of the state. It connects the Western Slope with the lower Front Range and the Arkansas Valley. The highway serves the areas of Pueblo and Grand Junction as well as many other smaller areas along its corridor. The long-term project to upgrade the highway from two lanes to a four lane expressway between Grand Junction and Montrose was completed in January 2005. Only about 25% of the remainder of highway 50 in Colorado is four lane expressway.
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State Highway 340 (SH 340) is a 13.341 mi (21.470 km) long state highway in the U.S. state of Colorado. The highway's western end is at U.S. Route 6 (US 6) and US 50 in Fruita, and the eastern end is at the junction of US 50 and I-70 Business in Grand Junction. This highway is mainly used by the residents of Grand Junction's suburb Redlands.
Mesa County Valley School District 51 is a school district in Mesa County, Colorado, United States. It is the tenth largest school district in the state. It comprises the Grand Junction area.