Colorado 4×4 Trails: Mesa County

Located surrounding the Grand Junction area and bordering the state of Utah, Mesa County has a wide range of 4×4 trails to explore. We recommend any offroad enthusiast in the are to check out these trails.

21 Road Trail

Skill Level: Extremely Difficult

Trail Length: 1.6 miles

Nearby Towns: Grand Junction

Elevation: 5,670 to 5,700 feet

Due to the huge boulders and obstacles that are present, this trail should only be attempted by the serious offroad enthusiast equipped with the proper 4×4 parts. It’s an extreme trail with large obstacles, although some obstacles have some bypasses making it easier should you choose to take that route. The trail starts out with a medium difficulty, and progresses to extremely difficult.

21 road is located in western Grand Junction starting on pavement. The road heads towards the Bookcliffs where the trail starts. The first major obstacle is known as “Monster”, a huge, square rock to the right side of the trail. Be careful climbing this and descending, as the other side is very long and can drop off quickly. The next obstacle has a few options, allowing you to take an easy path around, climb a steep hill, or take a tight and uneven path. After this obstacle, you encounter quite a few more obstacles, including “the Squeeze”, “Toyota Rock”, “Jeep Lane” and “Carnage Corner”. The last and hardest obstacle is known as “Insanity”, which is a massive wall of huge rocks. There is a bypass for this, however if you have a very modified 4×4 and want to attempt it, be careful and take your time, as the rocks are very loose.

If you have any question as to whether your vehicle is suitable for this trail, see our mechanic in Fort Collins.

Bangs Canyon

Skill Level: Medium – Challenging

Trail Length: 17.15 miles

Nearby Towns: Grand Junction

Elevation: 4,600 to 6,600 feet

Since this trail is so close to the Utah border, you’ll see a lot of resemblances between the scenery here and in Moab. The majority of offroad enthusiasts here usually drive as far to the playground, but there are many other sections of trail beyond that to explore. The scenery here is great making for some unique photo opportunities should you decide to bring the wife or kids along.

The beginning of the trail will have a lot of ruts and sand and will take you to a large, flat slab of rock with a sign pointing to the correct direction of where to follow the trail. Eventually, you’ll reach a fork in the road with a sign making the way to left indicating the “easier” path, and the right indicating the more “challenging” path. It doesn’t matter which path you take, as both will eventually meet up again. The challenging way is rocky and will require a lot of vehicle clearance, as there are sets of stairs with loose rocks. After these stairs you’ll reach the playground which has high slabs of rock with areas you can climb up and down.

If you continue to follow the trail, you can follow it all the way through Cross Canyon. The trail works its way down to a large, flat sandy area. From here, you’ll follow the 4×4 trail until you start to climb again. Eventually you cruise up some switchbacks that can be narrow, so take your time. Take the path until you reach West Bangs Canyon.

Coal Canyon

Skill Level: Medium

Trail Length: 14.5 miles

Nearby Towns: Palisade

Elevation: 6,000 feet

Coal Canyon is an easy trail to navigate, but can get challenging in some parts as well get slippery when it’s rained. Depending on which trail you decide to take here, the path can be very easy or challenging. It’s located in the Little Book Cliffs wilderness study area and has some fantastic scenery and wildlife, including dozens of wild horses that roam free. The trail starts at the Cameo exit 46 just northeast of Grand Junction and Palisade. If you’ve found the trailhead, you’re in the right place. Start by following the path down where you’ll be driving alongside some spectacular looking mesas. Eventually you’ll reach a place where you can go up and reach an overlook. When you get to the top, you’ll see a view of all the southern-most trails in the area.

From here, you’ll be able to see a few different options you have to get back down to the southern overlooks. Once you descend into Coal Canyon, you’ll have to pass over a rocky obstacle. It’s not too challenging if you have a modified vehicle, but if the path is wet or muddy stock vehicles may have a problem. From here you can continue on the rest of the trail.


By Bill Holland from Denver, USA (Battlement Mesa, Colorado) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Before going on any sort of adventure, get your vehicle checked out by auto technician, or see our mechanic in Fort Collins. Always use the buddy system when possible for a safe journey.

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