Has Western Colorado's Mt. Garfield called out to you lately, begging you to make the 2,000 foot climb? Is it saying "climb me....climb me"? Temperatures are getting cooler, but we've seen recent rain. If you're planning to make the climb this weekend, here are a few things you should know.

I made the drive down I-70 from Grand Junction to Palisade earlier today. Colorado Mountain Winefest is coming up this weekend, and we had setup to do. While making the drive, I couldn't help but look over at the east trail on Mt. Garfield. Needless to say, I heard it calling to me.

Climbing Mt. Garfield isn't something you want to do in the 105-degree heat. This weekend's highs will be in the upper 70s and lower 80's. In other words, perfect. Yet there is this matter of last night's rain, and the possibility for more rain tonight (Friday).

Why would you even want to climb it in the first place? Well, it's an excellent hike. The trail is accessible to just about anyone. There's also the matter of the new flag at the summit. As I drove by today, I could clearly see the mast, but it appears the flag has been taken down. Perhaps it's time someone replaced it (hint, hint).

Climbing Mt. Garfield with even the slightest amount of mud equals Mission: Impossible. You don't want to hike any western Colorado trail in the mud. It damages the terrain and leaves the trail a mess for future hikers.

Most importantly, when climbing Mt. Garfield, the first thing you have to do is get to the trailhead. The parking area for Mt. Garfield is north of I-70, and to get to it, you have to drive through a tunnel running under the interstate.

This tunnel is anything but level and water pools up at the low point. No matter how deep you estimate the water to be, you can trust me when I say it's even deeper than you think. This may not be a big deal if you're driving a full size "Mud Monster," but for those of us with economy vehicles, you pretty much need that James Bond underwater feature from "The Spy Who Loved Me" to get through the deep end.
Waylon Jordan
Waylon Jordan

If you attempt to get to the parking area after rain showers, there's a chance you'll spend the day scuba diving and towing your vehicle out of the filthy water.

The key to enjoying Mt. Garfield is to plan ahead. Bring water, adequate clothing, and your camera. Before you set course for the trailhead, though, you'll need to evaluate the situation. Recent rain almost guarantees a difficult time when going under the interstate. Of course, you could park somewhere else, run across I-70, and then climb. You could do that, but you'd be taking your life into your own hands.

Mt. Garfield is one of the best hikes in the valley. More than anything, simply think ahead. Getting there is half the challenge.

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