Grand Junction, Gateway, and Onion Creek Loop

Driving Terrain Difficulty


Photographic Opportunities


Hiking Opportunities


Chance you will get lost


Chance you will see other humans


If you have an empty Sunday or 5-ish hours to spend with your Jeep or 4X4, do this. Deserts, high mesas, mountains and 27 water crossings make this one of my favorite adventures.

Start by driving from Grand Junction to Gateway, CO, and take a right just after the resort on to John Brown Canyon Road (Road 44). Follow this road through 20-ish miles of red rocks, stream crossings, and pretty oak brush until you come to Mesa Road. Take a right.

I’ve heard that there are lot’s of fossils and even some dinosaur footprints at the top of this canyon in the Morrison layer. I’ve never found them, but maybe you will. See the video for some clues as to their super-top-secret location, but you might need some old rich guy’s helicopter to find them.—>

At the top of the canyon, you’ll start to see the La Sals Mountain Tops. On this day there was a contrail (or chemtrail, depending on who you are) in the perfect position to mimic the precursor a horrifying volcano.

Not long after you turn on Mesa Road you will see this spectacular view of Fisher Valley, UT. I can see my house from here! Charity, that is not your house.

If you feel like hiking, follow Mesa Road (FR 033) for a few miles and stop before the road starts switchbacking up Polar Mesa area… right at the intersection or FR 4608 (the sign is laying on the ground, so have fun finding it…. yay adventure)! You will know you are there when you see this phenomenal view.

Walk down 4608 for as long as your little heart desires. We took off cross country for a time and found lots of deep canyons and fun rocks to climb around on. We also rustled up us some cows for a nice steak dinner. Just kidding. This is what you will be seeing:

Back at your vehicle, head back the way you came for about 2 miles on FR 033 until you see Hideout Canyon Road on the right. Take it, and the next 2 hours of your life will get really interesting. Some parts of this road are dangerous and downright terrifying, but it’s worth it. Stop and take pictures as necessary, if only of your frightened faces.

Once you get down into Fisher Valley you are in for some serious earth-porn. Onion Creek (or is it Fisher Creek? I can’t get a straight answer from my map) winds back and forth through the road 27 times, so there will be lots of splashing and shrieking of girly voices for a while. But you get to see stuff like this:

When you finally get to highway 128, take a right on it to get back to I-70 West back to Grand Junction. You will see stuff like this:

When you get back to Grand Junction, consider Edgewater Brewery. It appears to be the least-douchey contender of the pub scene in GJ, and there is a huge outdoor patio with lots of grass, right by the Colorado river.
Charity Meinhart

Author Charity Meinhart

Charity Meinhart is a graphic designer, videographer, and photographer born and raised on the Western Slope of Colorado. She specializes in graphics of all kinds—from presentations to advertisements to infographs—as well as short films, documentaries, and all types of professional photography. When she's not creating behind a large screen, she is either cooking something weird or exploring remote parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming on with her husband Brian and furry children Ender and Kaiser.

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