Grand Junction is a small but rapidly growing town on the western desert slopes of the Rockies. It has become “discovered,” first as a pleasant alternative to Colorado Front Range hustle and bustle, particularly for retirees, more recently from migrants from all over the West. The climate is sunnier, drier, and generally more pleasant than other Colorado metropolitan areas and it has a well-preserved, western-town flavor.
Growth has pushed some suburbs north and west into the agricultural valleys toward the aptly named Fruita, with some high end individual homes and developments. That the area now touts itself as “Colorado’s Wine Country” says something about the climate and setting. The air-quality score is good, and healthcare services are above average.
Employment has been bolstered by the oil industry mainly east and construction and other services serving new arrivals. Cost of living has risen and is now about on par with local and national averages. The main downside is isolation—good air service or cultural amenities are located 250 miles east in Denver or 280 miles west in Salt Lake City, Utah. Grand Junction does not excel in any category but does consistently well in all of them.
The town is located at the junction of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers in a large mountain valley on the west slope of the Rockies. Distant mountains on all sides reach heights of 9,000 feet to 12,000 feet from the valley floor while low red-rock bluffs dominate the landscape closer in. Dry conditions lead to desert-fringe vegetation and an arid landscape. The area has a semiarid climate marked by the wide seasonal range typical of interior localities at this latitude.
The surrounding mountains block severe weather changes. Summer days are warm, usually in the 90s, but with very low humidity and an occasional thundershower. Long periods of winter cold can occur when cold air gets trapped in the valley. Sudden winter storms are infrequent and winter snows are light. First freeze is mid-September, last is late May