Road Trip on the Western Slope

Updated: Jul 29, 2021

There are times in life when everyone could use a break from their normal routine, a vacation or simply getting away for some quiet time away from it all. This past June (2020) I was ready to do just that so I took the Amtrak to Glenwood Springs Colorado, picked up a rental car and started my road trip around the western slope of Colorado. This area west of the continental divide holds 38% of Colorado's land but just over 10% of its population. So you don't have to worry about traffic or overcrowded destinations. But you can expect some of Colorado's best natural scenery and unique cities/towns that seem to take you back 50 years when main street was filled with small business, great diners and friendly people walking the streets. My first stop on the slope was Rifle Falls State Park, about 30 miles from Glenwood Springs. Home to a 80-foot triple waterfall surrounded by lush green vegetation the park is one of the most photographed areas on the western slope.

Rifle's Triple Falls
Rifle Falls
Sunset View from Campsite

Double Your Pleasure

After camping at Rifle Gap, I left early for my next stop the Colorado National Monument just outside of Grand Junction CO. I arrived shortly before sunrise and was treated to a breathtaking sunrise. The 20-mile drive through the monument is one of the best drives you will experience anywhere in the country. With over 15 stops with overlooks and many trails to adventure on, this monument is world class. After spending a long day at the monument, I started my 100 mile journey down highway 8 headed for Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park. Again, I arrived shortly before sunrise and to another beautiful sunrise over the black canyon walls. The Gunnison River cuts through the 2,000-foot canyon walls in some sections and is home to Painted Rock, the highest wall in Colorado towering at over 5000 ft. Before leaving the park, I took a nice nap alongside the Gunnison River to recharge before leaving for my next destination, Grand Mesa National Forest.

Sunrise at Colorado National Monument