15 Best Things to Do in Rifle (CO)

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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The town of Rifle is located in west-central Colorado’s Garfield County.

At the time of the last census, Rifle had a population of slightly more than 10,000 residents, and it was founded in the early 1880s.

Rifle is in a particularly rural and rugged part of the state and is most well-known as a destination for outdoor enthusiasts who tend to shun touristy attractions.

The area is surrounded by massive state and national parks, and for skiers, some of the west’s best ski resorts are just a few hours by car, both in-state and in Utah to the west.

Below are 15 things to do in and around Rifle, Colorado.

1. Sammy’s Rocky Mountain Steakhouse

Sammy’s Rocky Mountain SteakhouseSource: Sammy's Rocky Mountain Steakhouse / Facebook
Sammy’s Rocky Mountain Steakhouse

Beef is often what’s for dinner in the Rocky Mountain State. For those in Rifle in search of hearty fare served in a unique setting, Sammy’s Rocky Mountain Steakhouse would be a great place to dine.

Sammy’s is located on Park Avenue and has been in business for two decades.

Though their steaks and prime rib are among their biggest draws, they also serve burgers, seafood, soup, and salads.

At different times during the week, they offer a buffet, drink specials, fish fries, and delectable prime rib dinners.

Sammy’s is a bit more upmarket than most other area eateries, so dress accordingly.

2. Rifle Gap State Park

Rifle Gap State ParkSource: Rachele A. Morlan / shutterstock
Rifle Gap State Park

State and national parks abound in the country around Rifle, and Rifle Gap State Park is a convenient option for those who’d rather not waste too much time traveling out into the hinterlands.

The park’s centerpiece is the massive lake that covers nearly 400 acres of surface area; it’s popular with kayakers, paddleboarders, anglers, and swimmers in the warm months.

Game fish in the lake include large and smallmouth bass, a number of trout species, perch, and pike, and it’s possible to find up-to-date fishing reports online.

Rifle Gap has more than 80 individual campsites, and many visitors stop at the visitor center before heading out to explore.

3. Timberline Sporting Goods

Timberline Sporting GoodsSource: Timberline Sporting Goods / Facebook
Timberline Sporting Goods

Timberline Sporting Goods has been providing Rifle with an impressive array of quality products and attentive, personalized service since it was founded more than three decades ago.

For hunters, fishers, and all-around outdoor lovers, there’s no better place to stock up on all the things you’ll need on your Colorado trip. They’ll probably have what you’re looking for, though if they don’t, they’ll help you track it down.

They sell fishing and hunting licenses as well, and they’re open every day but Monday. Their hours vary slightly during the week and on the weekends, so check online or give them a call before heading out.

4. Grand Mesa National Forest

Grand Mesa National ForestSource: Brandon Hirt / shutterstock
Grand Mesa National Forest

Grand Mesa National Forest is a large preserved area that’s home to abundant lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.

During the summer, the days are often cooler than they are in other parts of the state because of the mesa’s altitude, and at night, the temperatures can dip dramatically.

The forest is particularly popular with hikers, mountain bikers, bird watchers, and fishers, and from the multi-use trails, it’s common to see a variety of animals.

There are many lodging options in the area that range from inexpensive rustic campsites to swank, full-service mountain chateaus with wine bars and trendy restaurants.

5. Shanghai Garden Restaurant

Shanghai Garden RestaurantSource: shanghaigardenrifle.com
Shanghai Garden Restaurant

Even in rural Colorado, it’s possible to find plenty of internationally-influenced dining options, and according to many previous guests, Shanghai Garden Restaurant in Rifle serves some of the best Chinese food they’ve ever had.

The restaurant’s Chinese staff, décor, and background museum give it a traditional and inviting atmosphere. Their menu includes classics like orange beef, hot and sour soup, and fried wontons filled with shrimp and cream cheese.

Unless it’s particularly busy, it’s common to have your orders in 10 or 15 minutes. Everything is reasonably priced, and portions are large, so it’s a good choice for families watching their pennies.

6. Ute Theater

Ute TheaterSource: utetheater.com
Ute Theater

Located on East 4th Street in Rifle, the Ute Theater resides in a refurbished historic movie house that dates back to the years just after World War II.

Though the theater now has modern appointments like comfy seats and climate control, it’s decorated in a ‘40s motif that’s both elegant and romantic.

The Ute offers a variety of entertainment options, including live concerts, dances, and plays. Previous guests have noted that there were plenty of food and drink options available and that the restrooms were immaculate even on busy nights.

Their shows often sell out, so consider buying tickets in advance.

7. Fravert Reservoir

Fravert ReservoirSource: Eric Harding / Facebook
Fravert Reservoir

Colorado’s high country reservoirs are full of cool, clear water that are big recreation draws for much of the year.

Fravert Reservoir is just a short drive from Rifle on County Road 244 and is full of popular game fish like walleye, bass, perch, northern pike, and brown trout that often reach epic proportions.

Swimmers, kayakers, and sunbathers flock to the reservoir in the summer, but the fishing is often best in the fall during periods of windy, overcast, and chilly weather when the fish are stocking up for a long winter under the ice.

Check online for local fishing reports before making a special trip.

8. Rifle Falls

Rifle FallsSource: Colin D. Young / shutterstock
Rifle Falls

Rifle Falls are one of Rifle Falls State Park’s most iconic attractions; they’re usually most majestic in the spring when the snow in higher elevations is melting, causing rivers and creeks to swell.

The falls are a favorite destination for photographers and artists interested in capturing the area’s majestic essence, and there are a number of trails that lead right to the base.

The sound is often deafening when the flow is high, and during the late spring and summer, the surrounding area is lush, green, and idyllic, and often shrouded in primordial mist.

Camping and RV sites are available for those who’d like to spend the night.

9. Rifle Heritage Center & Museum

Rifle Heritage Center & MuseumSource: Rifle Heritage Center / Facebook
Rifle Heritage Center & Museum

Though it’s far from the state’s biggest museum, the Rifle Heritage Center & Museum packs a big punch. For lovers of history and Native American cultures, it’s the perfect place to get up to speed quickly without leaving town limits.

The museum is located near the corner of 4th Street and East Avenue. It’s displays include a variety of historic artifacts and memorabilia such as clothes, weapons, art, and housewares from both Indians and settlers; many of them date back to the early part of the 1800s.

The center is staffed with knowledgeable locals, so don’t be shy about asking them for recommendations for things to see and do in town.

10. Glenwood Canyon

Glenwood CanyonSource: Zack Frank / shutterstock
Glenwood Canyon

Glenwood Canyon stretches for more than a dozen miles through some of the region’s most beautiful and rugged country; it’s characterized by cliffs that tower more than 1,200 feet above the roiling Colorado River Below.

It’s the longest and deepest canyon of its kind on the upper portion of the Colorado River, and it’s been an official natural landmark for nearly a decade.

The canyon can be experienced by car, bike, or on foot. Whichever option you choose, you’ll have access to some of the most stunning views and photo ops you’ll ever see.

Keep in mind that the roads and trails are often icy and treacherous during the fall and winter.

11. Glenwood Hot Springs

Glenwood Hot Springs PoolSource: Kristi Blokhin / shutterstock
Glenwood Hot Springs Pool

According to savvy and well-traveled hot springs lovers, Glenwood Hot Springs is the world’s largest single hot springs pool.

About 400 feet long and nearly 100 wide, it’s chock-full of minerals that are said to have therapeutic properties, especially for those suffering from muscle and bone problems.

The springs’ water bubbles to the surface at a consistently balmy temperature that’s particularly inviting after a long day on your feet in the chilly mountain air.

There are dedicated lanes for lap swimmers, and in the summer, there are slides, kid’s pools, and family cabanas available to rent as well.

12. Glenwood Adventure Company

Glenwood Adventure CompanySource: Glenwood Adventure Company / Facebook
Glenwood Adventure Company

Many visitors come to Colorado for its stunning natural beauty, unparalleled ruggedness, and abundance of exhilarating activities.

Some fearless souls enjoy striking out on their own, but others prefer letting professionals take care of the details. For those who fall into the latter category, time spent with the Glenwood Adventure Company would be the perfect way to get the most out of a day.

Glenwood Adventure offers an impressive variety of packages that include everything from river rafting, paddle boarding, and horseback riding to zip-lining, 4-wheel driving, and paragliding.

Most options are available from between one to four hours, but overnight excursions are popular too.

13. Rifle Creek Golf Course

Rifle Creek Golf CourseSource: Rifle Creek Golf Course / Facebook
Rifle Creek Golf Course

For much of the year, the weather in Colorado is absolutely perfect for golf, and the Rifle Creek Golf Course has been an area favorite since it was opened more than five decades ago.

Rifle Creek plays slightly longer than 6,200 yards from the back tees, though it’s got other tee options to accommodate women, seniors, and youngsters too.

The course’s 18 holes include a variety of natural landscapes and many scenic mountain vistas that are especially stunning for visitors from other, less mountainous parts of the country.

A bar and grill, pro shop, and practice facilities round out the course’s amenities.

14. White River National Forest

White River National ForestSource: f11photo / shutterstock
White River National Forest

Lovers of amazing scenery, fresh air, and majestic landscapes could spend months in Colorado and not experience all the state has to offer.

The state has more than its fair share of local, state and national parks, but for those who’d rather not spend hours in the car, the White River National Forest is the perfect place to see it all at one convenient location.

The forest features mountains that stretch nearly 14,000 feet into the sky and hundreds of individual hiking and biking trails that range from less than a mile to more than three dozen.

The area includes world-class ski resorts, multiple campgrounds, and great fishing as well.

15. Glenwood Canyon Recreation Trail

Glenwood Canyon Recreation TrailSource: Cascade Creatives / shutterstock
Glenwood Canyon Recreation Trail

Glenwood Canyon Recreation Trail winds its way for more than 13 miles through the entire length of the majestic canyon.

Unlike many other trails in the area, the Recreation Trail is paved, which means when it’s not snowy or icy, it’s appropriate for those of most ages and levels of physical ability – even for strollers and wheelchairs.

The trail features several vista points and seating areas along the way, but it does get crowded during peak times in the summer. To avoid the masses, consider an early morning or weekday visit.

Local tour providers offer shuttles to the trail, or it’s possible to walk one way only and be picked up at the other end for your return trip.

15 Best Things to Do in Rifle (CO):

  • Sammy’s Rocky Mountain Steakhouse
  • Rifle Gap State Park
  • Timberline Sporting Goods
  • Grand Mesa National Forest
  • Shanghai Garden Restaurant
  • Ute Theater
  • Fravert Reservoir
  • Rifle Falls
  • Rifle Heritage Center & Museum
  • Glenwood Canyon
  • Glenwood Hot Springs
  • Glenwood Adventure Company
  • Rifle Creek Golf Course
  • White River National Forest
  • Glenwood Canyon Recreation Trail