First afternoon of three-ish days around Grand Junction.
Came in from the West entrance Thursday early afternoon after 4 hour drive from Golden. This spring has been particularly wet, and that afternoon was no exception with on-again-off-again showers. My thought was to work our way SE from the Fruita entrance back towards where we were staying that night in Grand Junction.
Stopped in at the visitor center and talked with a ranger; she suggested Ute Canyon, the Liberty Cap area, and Serpents Trail as the best options on these sorts of wet days.
Looked at Independence Monument from the stop-off area. Ate lunch at the Coke Ovens overlook.
Showers had stopped by the time we reached the Ute Canyon trailhead. First half-mile of the trail drops you ~700 ft into the canyon, and at the bottom is this marshy area which was a little bit soggy, but perfectly passable. Then after a half-mile it breaks out into classic desert SW red-rock terrain. We went in ~2 miles to where the trail meets up with a wash with cairns beside it, marking the trail, then turned around.
Much of the trail is bouncing around around in a wash area next to a creek. From the trailhead to the first waterfall the ascent is probably not more than 200 ft. More detailed description on gjhikes.com No Thoroughfare Canyon
Maybe it was too early in the season, but Grand Junction Main Street seemed dead for a Thursday night. Anyways … MX Tapas Bar Restaurante had an interesting selection.