Rifle, Colorado, may be best known as a top hunting destination and outdoorsmen’s western retreat. But it’s also a scenic destination, with the Bookcliff Mountains as a backdrop and the Colorado River roaring alongside.
Rifle is in the Colorado River Valley, about 26 miles west of Glenwood Springs. The area is surrounded by mesas, canyons and state parks, where trees create hideaways, streams and waterfalls flow and wildlife abounds.
Spring is the perfect time to explore Rifle. Here are five ways to enjoy the area.
With the Colorado River snaking its way near town and the many lakes and ponds as resources, fishing is a staple, year-round activity in Rifle. Fly fishing by some of Rifle’s streams offers an opportunity to picnic and enjoy the scenery while reeling in the fish. Boat fishing is only 15 miles north of town in Rifle Gap State Park, where brown and rainbow trout are abundant, and a walleye or small mouth bass might also tug on the line.
Fishing licenses are required for everyone ages 16 and up. Licenses are available at local sporting goods retailers. For more information about fishing in Rifle call the Colorado Division of Wildlife at 303-297-1192 or visit www.wildlife.state.co.us.
Local trails abound in and around Rifle that afford towering mountain scenery and mesa views, whether seeking a quick jaunt or multi-day backpacking adventure. Popular trails are found on the Grand Mesa, one of the largest flat-top mountains in the world, beginning in Rifle and stretching to Grand Junction and Cedaredge. Many of the mesa’s 200 lakes are accessible only by trekking the winding trails.
Roan Cliffs and Flat Top Mountain also offer hike-worthy scenes, and Rifle Falls State Park affords an easy hike to a spectacular cascade waterfall. A half-mile trail leads from the base to the top of the cascade for more breathtaking scenery.
The Rifle Arch trailhead is north of town on Colorado Highway 13. A one- to two-hour hike ends at the 60-foot sandstone arch, spanning 150 feet of the Grand Hogbacks. This destination is the perfect vantage point to take in sweeping views of the Colorado River Valley and the Grand Mesa.
Pick up area hiking trail maps from the Rifle Information Center (at Rifle’s Rest Area). Check out the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce’s compilation of the 10 best hikes at www.riflechamber.com/documents/chambertrailsbrochure_000.pdf.
Rifle Mountain Park, a narrow box canyon 13 miles north of town, features world-famous rock climbing routes on steep limestone. The park challenges adventure seekers with overhangs, caves and more than 100 routes. Most climbs are for advanced climbers, but even beginners can find footholds among the 2.5 miles of climb-worthy rock.
The Rifle Mountain park climbing routes are open mid-April through late-October. Day passes are for sale at the Rifle City Hall (202 Railroad Ave.) for $5; 12-month passes are $40 ($10 for Rifle residents, $20 for Garfield County residents).
Many established climbs can be found at the end of the Rifle Arch Trail. Although it’s not advisable to climb on the arch itself, nearby rock formations make excellent routes.
For a more refined outdoor activity, stop by the Rifle Creek Golf Course three miles north of town. The 18-hole championship course is a secluded property in the Hogback Range valleys, making for scenic surroundings. Numerous trees, elevated terrain, water hazards, narrow passages and pristine greens offer a great golfing experience, too.
Take repose at the on-site Columbine restaurant for fine dining with the views. Avid golfers can also take advantage of the course’s golf pro shop and practice facility. Visit their website for more information.
Stay in Town
The town itself offers a taste of historic Rifle and its western roots. The Rifle Creek Museum in the former city hall building educates visitors with Native American artifacts, an old-fashioned general store and other historical displays. Downtown shopping ranges from antiques and bikes, to trendy clothes and electronics.
Wet your appetite at one of the several restaurants in town. Options range from quick and easy like a gourmet coffee shop or Lucky Dog hot dogs, to sit down restaurants like Fiesta Guadalajara Mexican restaurant, Base Camp Café and Rib City Grill.
If You Go
For more information about Rifle, visit the Rifle Chamber of Commerce full-page listing on GoColorado.com or visit their website, www.riflechamber.com.