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City of Grand Junction, Colorado
—  City  —
Location in Mesa County and the State of Colorado
Coordinates: 39°03′53″N 108°33′52″W / 39.06472°N 108.56444°W / 39.06472; -108.56444
Country  United States
State  State of Colorado
County Mesa[1]
Incorporated July 22, 1882[2]
Named for Confluence of Grand River and Gunnison River
 - Type Home Rule Municipality[1]
 - Mayor Bruce Hill
 - Total 31.1 sq mi (80.5 km2)
 - Land 30.8 sq mi (79.8 km2)
 - Water 0.3 sq mi (0.7 km2)
Elevation 4,593 ft (1,397 m)
Population (2007)[3]
 - Total 53,662
 - Density 1,362.6/sq mi (526.2/km2)
Time zone MST (UTC-7)
 - Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP codes[4] 81501-81507
Area code(s) 970
FIPS code
GNIS feature ID 0204662
Highways I-70, US 6, US 50, SH 340 SH141 SH 139
Website City of Grand Junction
Fifteenth most populous Colorado city

The most populous city of Western Colorado

The City of Grand Junction is the largest city in western Colorado. It is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous town or city of Mesa County, Colorado, United States.[5] Grand Junction is situated 247 miles (398 km) west-southwest of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. According to 2007 City of Grand Junction and Mesa County estimates, the population of the city is 53,662.[3] Grand Junction is the 15th most populous city in the State of Colorado and the most populous city on the Colorado Western Slope. Grand Junction serves as a major commercial and transportation hub within the large area between the Green River and the Continental Divide. It is the principal city of the Grand Junction Metropolitan Statistical Area which had a population of 139,137 in 2007.

The city is located along the Colorado River, where it receives the Gunnison River from the south. The name "Grand" refers to the historical upper Colorado River until renamed in 1921, and the word "Junction" is from the joining of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. Hence, Grand Junction has been given the nickname "River City". The city sits near the mid-point of a 30-mile (48 km) arcing valley, known as the Grand Valley, a major fruit-growing region, historically home to the Ute people and settled by white farmers in the 1880s. In recent years, several wineries have been established in the area as well. The Colorado National Monument, a series of canyons and mesas similar to the Grand Canyon, overlooks the city on the west, while most of the area is surrounded by public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Book Cliffs are a prominent series of cliffs that define the northern side of the Grand Valley. Interstate 70 connects the city eastward to Glenwood Springs and Denver and westward to Green River, UT and Interstate 15.

Grand Junction was the boyhood home (1124 Gunnison Avenue) of Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976), Academy Award-winning screenwriter (Exodus, Spartacus, Roman Holiday, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, etc.), novelist (Johnny Got His Gun) and member of the Hollywood Ten. He is honored with a Dalton Trumbo Free Speech Fountain on the campus of his alma mater, the University of Colorado. His first novel, Eclipse (1934) was set in a fictional Colorado town based on Grand Junction, and many of the characters are identifiable as community leaders from his early years there.



Grand Junction is located at 39°03′53″N 108°33′52″W / 39.06472°N 108.56444°W / 39.06472; -108.56444 (39.080531, -108.559097)[6]. It is 20 miles east of the Utah State Line on Interstate 70. It is about 4,597 feet above sea level in what is called "high desert" country.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 31.1 square miles (80.5 km²). 30.8 square miles (79.8 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.7 km²) of it is water. The total area is 0.87% water.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1890 2,030
1900 3,503 72.6%
1910 7,754 121.4%
1920 8,665 11.7%
1930 10,247 18.3%
1940 12,479 21.8%
1950 14,504 16.2%
1960 18,694 28.9%
1970 20,170 7.9%
1980 27,956 38.6%
1990 32,893 17.7%
2000 41,986 27.6%
Est. 2007 53,662 27.8%
Book Cliffs and Mt. Garfield (right), near Grand Junction
Book Cliffs, outside Grand Junction

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 41,986 people, 17,865 households, and 10,540 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,362.6 people per square mile (526.2/km²). There were 18,784 housing units at an average density of 609.6/sq mi (235.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 91.78% White, 0.60% African American, 0.94% Native American, 0.76% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 3.81% from other races, and 1.99% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.86% of the population.

There were 17,865 households out of which 25.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.1% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.0% were non-families. 33.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.2% under the age of 18, 11.9% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 22.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 95.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.6 males.

The population figures are for Grand Junction only; the city abuts smaller towns and unincorporated county areas which contribute to area commerce.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,152, and the median income for a family was $43,851. Males had a median income of $31,685 versus $22,804 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,692. About 7.5% of families and 11.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.8% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.

Economic history

From the time settlers arrived in the 1880s until the 1960s, the main economic activities in the region were farming and cattle raising. Retail sales have been important to the economy for decades (e.g., gasoline, and hunting and fishing related sales), and uranium mining-related activities have also been significant.[8] Education and healthcare have been important to the economy of the area, especially since the 1950s, with Mesa State College and St. Mary`s Hospital as leading employers in these fields. Vast oil shale reserves were known to exist near Parachute, Colorado in the Piceance Basin. The oil embargoes of the 1970s and high gas prices resulted in major financial interest in the region. Exxon purchased rights and used Grand Junction as its seat of operations.

Grand Junction and the surrounding Grand Valley were prosperous in the 1970s and early 1980s largely because of the impact of oil shale development. The United States, western Colorado in particular, has the largest known concentration of oil shale in the world (according to the Bureau of Land Management) and holds an estimated 800 gigabarrels of recoverable oil, enough to meet U.S. demand for oil at current levels for 110 years. Known as the "Rock That Burns" the shale can be mined and processed to produce oil, although in the past it was significantly more expensive than conventional oil. Sustained prices above $95 per barrel, however, may make extraction economically attractive in the coming years. ExxonMobil was forced to pull out of the region because of lower oil prices, which led to economic hardship in the region.

The economic bust, known as "Black Sunday" (May 2, 1982) to the locals, started with a phone call from the President of Exxon to the then Governor of Colorado, Richard Douglas Lamm, stating that Exxon would cut its losses while retaining mining rights to the (then and currently) uneconomic oil. The economic bust was felt statewide, as Exxon had invested more than 5 billion USD in the state. Colorado historian Tom Noel observed "I think that was a definite turning point, and it was a reminder that we were a boom-and-bust state...There were parallels to the silver crash of 1893."[9]

Today the economy of Grand Junction is more diverse and stable than it has been in previous decades. Currently, major contributors are health care, tourism, agriculture, livestock, and energy mining (gas and oil). Major energy companies have once again invested large amounts of money due to increases in oil and natural gas prices (such as in the years 2005-2008). However, a major drop (in the summer of 2008) of market natural gas prices led to reduced gas well drilling and related capital expenditures in the area, significantly slowing the Grand Junction economy in 2009.

Grand Junction is being discovered by the "nation's elite business and leisure travelers" for private jet travel, with nearby Powderhorn Resort and other ski resorts a major attraction.[10]




The Mesa Valley School District No. 51 (website) provides comprehensive K-12 public education to the Grand Junction area. School District 51 operates five high schools:

  • Fruita Monument High School
  • Grand Junction High School
  • Central High School
  • Palisade High School
  • R-5 High School.

In addition, the district operates numerous middle, elementary, and other types of schools. District 51 partners with the Western Colorado Community College (WCCC) to operate a vocational school, owned and operated by Mesa State College. The WCCC was formerly named, and is still commonly called, UTEC.

Colleges and Universities

Mesa State College, a public, four-year, liberal arts institution, serves as the primary provider of higher education on the Western slope from its campus in central Grand Junction. This growing campus has an average enrollment of over 7,000 students and offers a variety of degrees, including a Masters in Business Administration Educational Leadership and ESOL. The college has particularly strong science, art, music, nursing, and kinesiology programs. The Junior College World Series of Baseball (JUCO) is hosted by Mesa State each year, and its sports venues include the nearby complex at Sam Suplizio Field in Lincoln Park.


Grand Junction Regional Airport (formerly Walker Field Airport) serves as the major airport in the area. The airport is located in north Grand Junction on Horizon Drive. Two-way flights to Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Dallas and Phoenix are available for air travelers.

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Grand Junction Station, operating its California Zephyr daily in both directions between Chicago and Emeryville, California across the bay from San Francisco.

The Grand Valley Transit (GVT) is the local bus system which also services routes from Palisade to Fruita, Colorado.

Major Highways


The area has a semi-arid continental climate.

Weather data for Grand Junction, CO, USA
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 62
Average high °F (°C) 37
Average low °F (°C) 16
Record low °F (°C) -23
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.60
Source: The Weather Channel[11] November 2008

See also


  1. ^ a b "Active Colorado Municipalities". State of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs. Retrieved 2007-09-01.  
  2. ^ "Colorado Municipal Incorporations". State of Colorado, Department of Personnel & Administration, Colorado State Archives. 2004-12-01. Retrieved 2007-09-02.  
  3. ^ a b "Annual Estimates of the Population for All Incorporated Places in Colorado" (CSV). 2005 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. June 21, 2006. Retrieved November 17, 2006.  
  4. ^ "ZIP Code Lookup" (JavaScript/HTML). United States Postal Service. Retrieved September 24, 2007.  
  5. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  8. ^ Museum of Western Colorado. History Timeline [Online]. Retrieved 7.28.09.
  9. ^ Richard Williamson (October 5, 1999). "Oil shale collapse preserved scenic vistas". Denver Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved June 3, 2009.  
  10. ^ "Colo. gets two spots on luxury-travel list". - Denver Business Journal. - January 11, 2008. - Retrieved 2008-01-12
  11. ^ "Monthly Averages for Grand Junction, CO". The Weather Channel. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-02.  

External links


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