Grand Junction is the largest city on Colorado’s Western Slope and the county seat of stunning Mesa County, named for its majestic flattop mountains. Two other towns in the county, Palisade and Fruita, also are easily accessible for groups and worthy of exploration. Plus, there are nearly two dozen wineries in the area that can host an assortment of events, a walkable downtown for a mindful moment during a conference at Grand Junction’s Two Rivers Convention Center, numerous bike routes through lush orchards and lavender fields, whitewater rafting and even organized stargazing on the world’s largest flattop mountain, Grand Mesa.
How Big Can You Go?
Two Rivers Convention Center, located in central downtown on the same block as three hotels, is the largest convention center between Denver and Salt Lake City, accommodates groups in excess of 2,000 people, offers three large ballrooms and has more than 23,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space. It is also currently undergoing multimillion dollar renovations.
Avalon Theatre, built in 1923, also is located in downtown Grand Junction but on the other end of Main Street. Restored within the last five years, there is seating for more than 1,000 attendees and a mezzanine level that has a picturesque and Instagram-worthy view of Grand Junction. There is also a rooftop for events.
Colorado Mesa University Center has in excess of 20,000 square feet of indoor space, including the 8,500-square-foot Meyer Ballroom, six meeting rooms, catering services and more.
Where to Lodge and Meet
Grand Junction’s repertoire of hotels with meeting space also assures planners that the community of more than 62,000 in population is used to hosting groups. Clarion Inn Grand Junction is one of the valley’s largest hotels with 15,000 square feet of indoor function space, along with DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Junction with 11,520 square feet of options. Grand Vista Hotel, Holiday Inn & SuitesAirport and Travelodge offer small options in the range of 5,000 square feet of meeting and event space or less.
For meetings at off-site venues, consider The Chateau at Two Rivers Winery that can host groups of up to 225 guests in a limited seating, cocktail-style format utilizing 3,855 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. The French countrystyle building located amongst grapes and wine production facilities also has 10 guest rooms and a catering kitchen.
Situated amongst 21 acres of vines, Wine Country Inn in Palisade is a Victorian-inspired property with 80 guest rooms and the capacity to host a seated dinner for 180 guests in the Vineyard Ballroom. Another option is the Vintner’s House, including two Club Rooms with complete kitchens, living and dining areas and lock-off guest rooms. The smaller Orchard Room is ideal for breakout sessions and small meetings.
Fields and Orchards
Mesa County has a large collection of picturesque fields and orchards for events, ranging from peaches, apples, apricots, plums, cherries, grapes and raspberries to tomatoes, lavender, corn, hops and more.
“Our farm shares space with a craft distillery, so we host a variety of events including nonprofit fundraisers, networking events, client appreciation events, and corporate get-togethers as well as private events for up to 75 people. My farm focuses on everyday uses of lavender, from skin care to aromatherapy to culinary,” says Lisa Proietti, proprietor of Belli Fiori Lavender in Grand Junction.
Meanwhile, Sage Creations Organic Farm in Palisade grows organic produce on 5 acres and offers classes for up to 24 and farm tours for a maximum of 35. “The best part, in addition to hosting events, our farm is located on the Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway, where you can find agritours, fruit stands, alpaca farms and wineries along the trail to add to any group event or bike or motor along the scenic byway,” suggests owner Paola Legarre.
Palisade River Ranch is one of those facilities and can host groups of up to 150. The property has a mile of riverfront and a 45-acre woodland island accessible for guests. Views of the surrounding Book Cliffs and Grand Mesa are visible from the large deck off the main property, and a gazebo is ideally located between the river and the ranch’s ponds.
The Grand Junction area is truly distinct in Colorado. Elevate any meeting with the beautiful landscapes, fresh-from-the-field products and opportunities, and meaningful spaces.
Experience the Area
Colorado National Monument, located in Fruita, has two entrances that are 10-30 minutes from downtown Grand Junction and is a highlight in the county. The 32-square-mile park has monoliths, views of the mesas, red canyons, and wildlife such as eagles and big horn sheep. Rim Rock Drive, a 23-mile route through the park with overlooks and pullouts, is the most popular but rarely crowded.
Grand Mesa is the world’s largest flattop mountain. There are more than 300 lakes and activities to keep groups busy, from fishing and other water sports to winter thrills such as snowmobile tours, snowshoeing and more.
Powderhorn Mountain Resort is 45 minutes from Grand Junction and offers 600 acres of skiable terrain with a new high-speed detachable quad lift. Summer means downhill mountain biking for groups of all abilities with liftserved, marked trails.
Local Tastes are abundant. Visit places like Rooted Gypsy Farms, Kannah Creek Brewing Company, The Produce Peddler, Field to Fork, Bin 707 Food Bar, Colterris, Enstrom Toffee & Confectionery and High Country Orchards and Vineyards, all available for private events.
Six Golf Courses, including five public and one private in Grand Junction, are a great option as golfing is a year-round activity here with sunny and blue Colorado skies.
Gateway Canyons, a resort approximately one hour south in Gateway, offers group stargazing and all sorts of activities with the resort’s curator of curiosity, Zebulon Miracle. The night sky in Grand County is a cosmic party of constellations, and attendees will be able to use the resort’s telescope to spot planets and deep space objects such as distant galaxies and nebulas.
In 2018, for the St. Mary’s Medical Center employee appreciation dinner for 500-plus attendees, Two Rivers Convention Center was transformed into Jurassic Park, an homage to nearby dinosaur discoveries. Frequently working in this space, David Wall of Snob Productions was able to recreate incredible parts of the movie with intimate knowledge of Two Rivers and its potential.
“As guests entered the event, they walked through a hallway that had incubators, as if you were walking through a lab with the DNA chambers. Television monitors ran loops of chemistry formulas; it felt like a true working lab,” he says.
Cocktail hour was infused with bones and skeletons before the grand entrance was revealed to the plated dinner. “We used Kabuki with a projection of wooden gates that then dropped, feeling as though the gates disappeared and allowing entrance into the large ballroom.”
No nest egg was left out. Wall’s wife, Gina Bishop, owns Elite Events and designed dinosaur nests for the centerpieces and color coordinated all tables and chairs to mimic the jungle theme of the movie.
Colorado Mesa University’s ballroom is the location of the annual St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation’s gala. Wall notes, “For the 25th anniversary gala, a montage of all the other galas we had done for them in the past including Alice in Wonderland, The Great Gatsby and Bollywood were highlighted with the favorite designs and pieces from each event.”