When deciding what university I wanted to attend 4 years ago, Colorado Mesa University was my top choice. One of the mains reason I picked CMU was because of all the outdoor activities around the beautiful campus.

As soon as I arrived on campus, I did a lot of research on where to go to experience quality recreational activities. The Outdoor Program here at CMU will help you find the right spots to go for hiking, mountain biking, river activities, climbing, camping and more. They will even guide you on trips.

I have been living in Grand Junction for three years, and I love all the outdoor recreation opportunities around here.

For hiking, if I want to do a quick and easy trail while still getting my nature fix, I will do Mica Mines Trail. Mica Mines trail is a very popular trail for families, dogs and for visitors. It’s located in the BLM Bangs Canyon Management Area. It is 2.6 miles long and takes around two hours to complete; it ends at the mine. You can hike on the trail or in the creek bed next to the trail. There’s an endless amount of mica (hint, the name) and quartz towards the end of the trail and in the mine.

“Night hiking the easier trails on the monument is always fun,” CMU student Casey Smith said.

Another hike that I do constantly in the summer is Lost Lake Trail in the Grand Mesa. The difficulty is moderate. It’s a two mile hike and takes around two hours to complete. There are multiple lakes that you can pass as you walk up several hundred feet in elevation. You will also get to walk through basalt rock fields and your destination is a small, beautiful turquoise lake. The best time do this hike is in the summertime. This where I take everyone who visits me, and it will always be one of my favorites.

Camping around Grand Junction is phenomenal. If I just want to get away for the night and still make it to class the next day, I go to Fruita North Campground. It is only a 30-minute drive from campus and costs around $10 a night, or there is an area where you can camp for free, but you need to provide your own fire pit.

This campground is known for having tons of mountain biking.

“North Fruita is always a great time. It’s a short drive to beautiful scenery of the Bookcliff mountains,” CMU student Connor Larrick said. “There are also some easy and cool mountain biking trains that run through the campground.”

Fruita North Campground is the perfect get away without having to go too far. Another great camping spots would be in Moab, which is about an hour and half from campus. The camping spots I like there are Dewey Bridge Campground and Upper Onion Creek Campground.

Both spots are right next to the water and have both group and smaller sites. The hikes around the sites are amazing, and the sites are about 30 to 40 minutes into the city of Moab.

Mountain biking in the monument is also very popular. I am not a mountain biker, but I have friends who do it all the time and I know some of the more known spots. Mary’s Loop Trail in the Kokopelli’s Loop Trails Area is the classic and most-ridden trail. The difficulty is moderate; the length is 9.3 miles and it’s about a two and half hour ride. Holy Cross Trail is another great ride. Dogs are allowed on this trail, and it’s moderate in difficulty. It’s a six mile ride and it will take you about two hours.

There are crazy amounts of outdoor recreation opportunities around Grand Junction. This article is only giving you the base of what you could do. Doing more research on the plentiful amount of outdoor activities is a great start to getting yourself outside.

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Maddie Banfield
Maddie Banfield is a junior mass communication student and the opinions editor for the 2017/2018 academic year. She has been writing for the Criterion for 5 months. Maddie is from Fort Collins, CO and loves puppies and the outdoors.

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