Jam-packed Sunday: There’s plenty to do today in the Grand Valley

The Jerry Creek Reservoirs are fairl close to Grand Junction and offer a neat place to hike. The reservoirs are a no-fee area, and despite being situated at only 5,500 feet in elevation, they’re 800 feet above the valley floor, making it a cool place for recreation.


Jerry Creek Reservoirs

Drive time and distance: 35 minutes, 29.9 miles

Elevation: 5,500 ft.

Hiking Distance: One-half mile from parking lot to reservoirs

Difficulty: Easy

You’ll notice plenty of cyclists on the road today, participating in the annual Community Hospital Tour of the Valley Century Ride.

According to a recent press release from the hospital, “for 21 years, riders of all abilities have relished the diverse scenic beauty of the Grand Valley in this noncompetitive ride. Tour routes are 30, 50, 75 and 100 miles.

“Cyclists come from all over the United States for the event; this year cyclists are traveling from as far away as Oregon, California, Arizona and New Mexico to enjoy the ride.”

Proceeds benefit Community Hospital’s outreach activities, the Mesa State College Cycling Team and the Neil Bradford scholarship fund at Mesa State.

Many locals may remember Neil as a great guy and former manager of Crossroads Fitness Center near the airport. Neil was killed in a bicycle accident while riding his bike along Little Park Road in GJ.

Pre- and post-ride activities take place at the DoubleTree Hotel on Horizon Drive. Riders may check-in and enjoy breakfast from 6-8:30 am., with the post-ride activities starting at 11 a.m. So, if you’re planning on doing that today, hope you’re reading this early enough to get started.

If you’re late this morning, there’s an alternative: Check out the Colorado National Monument, which will host “A Walk Through Time” this morning. The event starts at 8 a.m. and continues through 1 p.m., when the public is invited to walk, stroll, jog or bicycle along 14 miles of Rim Rock Drive without motorized traffic.

Dogs are welcome, but must stay on a short leash at all times and remain on paved areas. Pet waste must be cleaned up by owners. No dogs are allowed on the monument’s trails. In-line skates, skateboards, and scooters are not permitted.

Monument spokeswoman Michelle Wheatley says the event will start and finish at the visitor center complex located four miles into the park from the West Entrance Station at Fruita. Event parking will be located in the Saddlehorn Picnic Area parking lot. Regular entrance fees will be charged, $7 for cars and $4 for cyclists.

Rim Rock Drive will be closed to all motorized traffic from the visitor center to the intersection of DS Road/East Glade Park Road between the hours of 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wheatley says this closure includes one hour before and after the event. Park access will be closed at West Glade Park Road/16 1/2 Road throughout the event. Rim Rock Drive from the park’s West Entrance Station to the visitor center will remain open to motorized traffic all day.

The East Hill of Rim Rock Drive to the DS Road intersection will remain open to motorized traffic throughout the day.

The Colorado National Monument Association is co-sponsoring this event “to raise awareness and support for the Monument’s Centennial in 2011. Donations will support future centennial celebration events.”

Donate $5 or more and receive an official Centennial commemorative pin.

Community Hospital hosts the Tour of the Valley along Rim Rock Drive in conjunction with this event. Tour of the Valley cyclists will be traveling on bikes from the East Entrance across Rim Rock Drive and out the West Entrance.

OK, so you’re late for both of these events because you slept in this morning and didn’t go to church. Well, for penance, you can go to the great church of the Rockies, and pray at Jerry Creek Reservoirs, two miles past the Mesa/Collbran turnoff headed toward Grand Mesa. These reservoirs are part of the Ute Water domestic water supply, and walk-in access only is allowed. But it’s only about a half-mile hike up to the water, so you can make it.

Recreation is limited to hiking, wildlife viewing, and fishing and vault toilets are available on-site. Since this is a domestic water supply, fishing is limited to fly and lure only, catch and release.

Because of the walk-in, no water contact rules and special regulations, these reservoirs receive light fishing traffic for oversize bluegills and largemouth bass.

To reach these reservoirs, travel east from Grand Junction for about 20 miles on Interstate 70 to Highway 65 (Exit 49). That’s the Powderhorn/Grand Mesa turnoff. Travel about eight miles east to Colorado Highway 330, then 1.9 miles east to the parking area on the left. It’s just past the Highway 330 bridge going over Plateau Creek.

This is a no-fee area, and although these reservoirs are situated at only 5,500 feet in elevation, that’s still about 800 feet above the valley floor here, so it’s a bit cooler, and provides a great hike.


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