By Denise Hight
Not all journeys have to be out of town. The cooler temperatures of autumn make it a perfect time of year to go outside with your kids (or grandkids) and play in our local parks. The older kids are in school, so you can take the toddlers to the parks when it isn’t crowded, or take your entire family on the weekend. Over the past few months, my three-year-old granddaughter and I “tested” a few of the local parks in Grand Junction and Fruita. (I’m sorry if I missed your favorite, but there are very beautiful many parks in the area!) Here are “our” findings.
Canyon View Park, Grand Junction. This is a huge park with a bit of everything. There are sports fields, walking trails, picnic shelters, a dog park, and multiple sports fields. There is even a cupcake shop, Baker’s Boutique, near the east entrance. (Their cupcakes are delicious and they feature different flavors every day.)
The playground is enormous! There are swings, slides of all sizes, lots of places to climb – just loads of playground equipment for kids of all ages. The playground is divided into sections for younger kids and kids between the ages of five and twelve. It’s a very popular playground, and kids love it, but you have to make sure that smaller children don’t play on the equipment that is more suitable for the older kids. (My granddaughter tried.) Other parents and grandparents have told me that if you have more than one child, especially if one is under five and the other is older than five, that they recommend having more than one adult to supervise, as it can be difficult to keep an eye on multiple children in such a large playground. There are no trees in the playground area so it can get quite hot.
Heritage Park, Fruita. Thanks to a grant from Excel Energy and the Colorado Tree Coalition, there’s lots of nice new equipment in this well-maintained playground. My granddaughter, at age three, didn’t want to try the big twisty slide, but there was smaller slide that she liked very much. The park is located on the frontage road on the south side of Fruita which makes it very convenient for the several subdivisions that are located near there. Because of its location near the interstate, however, at times it was quite noisy, but other than that, it is a very nice playground.
Reed Park, Fruita. Reed Park in downtown Fruita was the site of Fruita Union High School and the Reed Dairy Farm before becoming a 3.3 acre city park in 1983. It has a large green area, very popular for dog-walking and soccer practice, and several covered picnic shelters. The playground, on South Elm Street, has a merry-go-round which my granddaughter loved (my husband and I rode with her), but no swings, which she missed.
Lincoln Park, Grand Junction. Out of all the playgrounds we played at, this is my granddaughter’s favorite. She calls Lincoln Park “the green park” and the name is certainly appropriate. The playground is lovely and the equipment is well-maintained. There are plenty of trees, which makes the playground pleasantly cool even on the warmest days. Lincoln Park, of course, has much more than just a playground, including a huge outdoor pool, sports stadiums, playing fields, running tracks, an events center, and even a nine-hole golf course. It’s the jewel in Grand Junction Park and Recreation’s crown.
Rocket Park, Grand Junction. This park on Orchard Avenue in east Grand Junction is where I used to take my daughter and her play group some twenty-five years ago. But the park of today looks complexly different. Thanks to a grant from GOCO, there is all new playground equipment, divided into sections for two to five-year-olds, and five to twelve-year-old children. The “rocket” where kids of previous generations played is gone but remembered in a mosaic on the restroom entrance and on the design in the new surface that covers the ground. The mature trees keep the playground and the entire park nice and cool. The park also has covered picnic tables and restrooms.
Comstock Park, Fruita. Many neighborhoods and subdivisions in Grand Junction and Fruita have their own “pocket parks” where kids play, neighbors chat, and dogs get walked. These aren’t really destination parks as most of the users live in the immediate area and walk or ride their bikes. One of these parks, Comstock Park, at 2 ½ acres, has a grassy area where kids practice soccer and t-ball, as well as a small playground with two swings and a slide. Small neighborhood parks like this are great places for kids (and adults) to get outdoors and to socialize.
Hawthorne Park, Grand Junction. This is a lovely downtown park with lots of shade trees, surrounded by tree-lined streets with historic homes. The park has covered picnic shelters, and the playground has plenty of swings, slides, and other equipment to keep kids of all ages entertained.
These are just a few of the many parks that can be found in our area. How fortunate are we to live in an area with so many fun things to do with our kids.