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Hike the Palisade Rim Trail

There is a certain peace that comes with standing on a plateau and watching the Colorado River become engulfed by De Beque Canyon. Palisade Rim Trail is a trail one can take over and over and find a new wonder and adventure each time. It is popular not only for hiking but also trail running and mountain biking (and is dog-friendly too). This trail is merely a few minutes’ drive east of Palisade and is accessible from G Road, the main street through Palisade. Parking is at a boat launch not far from the trailhead on the west side of G Road (just yards from the intersection of G Road and North River Road).

Palisade Rim Trail Hike
Palisade Rim Trail Hike

The trail begins with a steep, rocky ascent that follows the canyon ridge. Sage and juniper are your guardrail. Many switchbacks bring you around to a plateau overlooking the valley – miles of farms, orchards, and vineyards. You might find yourself looking down into the river, and even after ascending 600 feet, you can still see the rocks at the bottom. A quarter of the way into the the trail, you can see petroglyphs etched into the rock. There are signs pointing to the petroglyphs as they are not visible from the main trail. This portion of the trail is the Lower Loop or Lower Rim (3.3 miles). 

At the petroglyphs, the trail splits off to the south for the Upper Rim Trail (5 additional miles roundtrip), which follows along the base of the Grand Mesa towering above.  The Upper Rim Trail is well worth the adventure because it’s not as popular as the Lower Rim. Here, the formations of the Little Bookcliffs and the Grand Mesa merge into one. After switchbacks from the Lower Rim to the Upper Rim, the trail winds through the canyons and washes. With little shade available, this trail is best taken in the early hours. Through the canyons a breeze comes off the river for refreshment – an intimate touch. Along the way are breathtaking views as the trail opens up to the valley – this part is not often experienced or appreciated fully.

Are you thinking about visiting Palisade soon and hiking the Palisade Rim Trail?  You can find more information on our Best of Palisade page.

Palisade Rim Trail Rock Art
Ute Rock Art – Palisade Rim Trail

Diana Reiter

A Colorado native, Diana is based on the Western Slope. Much of her free time is spent outdoors exploring the unique landscapes of Colorado or enjoying good food and drink with friends. She is an avid photographer and has been writing for ten years.

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