Getting Oriented

A little planning goes a long way when visiting this region. Grand Junction, the largest city between Denver and Salt Lake City, makes an ideal hub for exploring. Many of the sights, except for Steamboat Springs, are less than two hours from Grand Junction. You can make the loop from Delta to Cedaredge and Grand Mesa to Palisade easily in a day. If you want to break up the trip, stop in Cedaredge. The loop in the opposite direction—including Meeker, Craig, Dinosaur National Monument, and Rangely—is longer, but there's decent lodging along the way, with the exception of Dinosaur National Monument, where there's only one nearby motel and camping.

If you're headed to Steamboat Springs from Denver in winter, exercise caution on Highway 40. It sees less traffic than I–70, but it can be treacherous in the Berthoud Pass stretch during snowstorms.

Grand Junction and Around. This narrow city is a quiet, gracious locale that easily balances raucous outdoor adventures and a thriving cultural scene. The Colorado National Monument and Book Cliffs dominate the landscape, but Palisade, with its peaches and wines, and Fruita, a thriving mountain-biking mecca, command ever-increasing attention.

Steamboat Springs. Unlike some of the other ski towns, Steamboat has always been a "real" town. With its touch of the Old West and plenty of cowboys still hanging around, visitors are usually torn—hot springs, horseback riding, or skiing?

Northwest Corner. The world's largest flat-topped mountain, the Grand Mesa, has a 55-mile Scenic Byway that feels a little like Land of the Lost. Meanwhile, Dinosaur National Monument offers thousands of fossils and hiking trails. Stop in nearby Craig or Rangely to refuel yourself and your vehicle.

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