Destination for Meetings and Events: Grand Junction, Colorado

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Destination for Meetings and Events: Grand Junction, Colorado

By Beth Buehler

The “capitol city” of Colorado’s Western Slope, Grand Junction, is located along the Colorado River in the heart of Colorado’s wine country and surrounded by beautiful flat-topped mountains. Fresh produce and outdoor recreation abound here. You will also find top-notch indoor and outdoor Grand Junction meeting space as well as event spaces for all sorts of gatherings.

To provide a little geographic perspective, Grand Junction is located less than four hours from both Denver and Salt Lake City, Utah, and just two hours from Aspen. But it’s worlds away from all three destinations in terms of scenery, vibe and types of venues and easily accessible by road, air and train.

The Grand Junction Convention Center courtyard was a perfect place to network over the campfire at the Colorado Governor's Tourism Conference. Photo courtesy of the Colorado Tourism Office.
Avalon Theatre was built in 1923 and is still an important event venue today. Courtesy Visit Grand Junction.

To provide a little geographic perspective, Grand Junction is located less than four hours from both Denver and Salt Lake City, Utah, and just two hours from Aspen. But it’s worlds away from all three destinations in terms of scenery, vibe and types of venues and easily accessible by road, air and train.

Distinct Downtown

Two of my favorite venues for Grand Junction meeting space are located in the downtown district, which is brimming with restaurants, art galleries, boutiques, and a large public sculpture collection. I enjoyed seeing the Grand Junction Convention Center and historic Avalon Theatre used in tandem a few years ago for the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference.

On one side of downtown, Grand Junction Convention Center can accommodate up to 2,000 people and has nearly 23,000 square feet of meeting space in the form of three ballrooms and six smaller meeting rooms, ideal for spreading people out during this era of COVID-19. Or the three ballrooms can be combined to create one large 18,600-square-foot space, while the six smaller rooms can be opened up to form a 4,320-square-foot ballroom for general sessions, meals and more. The atrium is a great complement to larger affairs, and was perfect for a fun farmers’ market that was set up during “Gov Con” and featured local products and producers. The 1,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard also is available and served as an ideal location for a Colorado-emblazoned camper and camp chairs.

For a truly unique space, the historic Avalon Theatre is only six blocks to the east of the convention center. Built in 1923, the facility, including a 1,096-seat auditorium, has been beautifully restored and updated and the Rooftop Terrace and Mezzanine Lobby have lovely views of downtown and the Book Cliffs. At Gov Con, the Avalon Theatre was booked for a welcome reception, with each space in the venue utilized for a different purpose to showcase the Grand Junction area. It was especially fun to taste local wines, spirits, and foods like the Colorado peaches grown in area orchards.

Colorado’s Wine & Peach Country

Don’t make the mistake of packing a meeting agenda so full that there is no time to enjoy the wide range of outdoor activities for all skill levels and the plentiful wineries and orchards. Grand Junction and nearby Palisade have a rich agricultural heritage and make up a good portion of Colorado’s wine country. Approximately 20 wineries can be accessed by a variety of types of transportation, including bikes and limousines, and provide options ranging from private tours and tastings to catered winemaker dinners.

For smaller groups who want to stay next to the vines, head to Wine Country Inn in Palisade. The inn features 80 guest rooms, Vintner House Suites, and complimentary breakfast and afternoon wine tastings. For gatherings there are a variety of beautiful outdoor spaces in addition to the Vineyard Ballroom and two Club Rooms in the Vintner House.

Wine Country Inn is located adjacent to a vineyard and has beautiful outdoor and indoor meeting spaces. Courtesy Wine Country Inn.

Amazing Landscapes and Activities

The spectacular Colorado National Monument also is one of Grand Junction’s most popular venues for groups. The top site for gatherings is the Bookcliff View area. A scenic drive along the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive with stops along the way to admire  dramatic canyon and cliff views is a worthwhile excursion or book an outfitter for hiking and rock climbing. Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-topped mountain, also is worthy of exploring.

During warm weather months, groups can golf on a variety of local courses, boat or fish on more than 300 lakes, hike or bike on hundreds of trails, and enjoy miles of river for rafting and kayaking. In the winter, skiing and snowboarding at nearby Powderhorn Mountain Resort is the ticket, while those who prefer culture can visit the Art Center and Museum of the West any time of year.

Looking for something different, where there is fertile soil to learn, grow and play? Head to Grand Junction, a premiere destination for meetings and events.

Holy Cross Trail is one of the many biking and hiking options in the Grand Valley. Courtesy Visit Grand Junction.

Top Photo: Colorado National Monument, courtesy of Visit Grand Junction.

Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 16 years and helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine in 2013. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.