"New" Site: Book Cliffs

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Joined: Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:01 am
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"New" Site: Book Cliffs

Postby CMarvin » Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:25 am

Hi All!

I finally got to chance to fly the Book Cliffs this past weekend! It’s a site that I’ve had my eyes on for a while, and thought it may be helpful for others if I shared the details.

The book cliffs are not a “brand new” site per say, as I know that other people have flown them before. That being said, I think this launch has some incredible thermalling/XC potential, and it’s a refreshing break from the plethora of ridge-soaring sites scattered around Grand Junction.

Anyways, first things first: The book cliffs are NOT a beginner ridge soaring site. Their geography is parallel to the diurnal valley winds, and many bowls and spines would create rotor if the wind is even slightly cross. From my experience, the book cliffs are an awesome thermalling site, and could be used as a take-off point for some fun XC lines.

Also, if the name didn’t give it away, the Book Cliffs are cliff launches of varying severity. If you don’t know the hazards of cliff launching a paraglider, I’d invite you to watch the classic YouTube video “Moab Speedflyer cheats Death.”


  • Drive time from LZ to top: a little over an hour if you drive quickly on dirt roads.
  • Recommended parking spot (after this, the road get very steep and very rough)
    • 39.304374, -108.604539
  • My lifted Subaru was able to get to the recommended parking spot with little trouble. I think a carefully driven stock Subaru-type vehicle could also make it.
  • Hike up options (not recommended unless you like bushwhacking):
    • I don’t think you would be able to hike up the front side of the book cliffs. Eric and I drove into Hunter canyon (SE of the hill that the launch is on) and bushwhacked our way up the SE aspect to avoid the main cliff bands on the front side.
  • Launch(es):
    • 39.307169, -108.614691
    • 39.306307, -108.608384
    • 39.308092, -108.617340
  • Recommended “bomb out” LZ
    • 39.294136, -108.609301
  • Thankfully, the book cliffs are mostly on BLM land

Potential Hazards:

  • Cliff launches
  • Winds “wrapping around” into bowls
    • It’s recommended that you launch on a spine, as cross winds would wrap into a bowl and give you a false “straight in” wind direction when there’s rotor in the bowl
  • Strong valley winds
  • Strong thermal activity
    • This is a desert site. It should be treated with the same respect that Dinosaur, Villa Grove, etc. are treated with.
  • Air traffic/Airspace
    • If you XC to the SE, you will need to be abundantly aware of air traffic and airspace restrictions
    • I’ve heard from locals and pilots that fly into GJT that commuter jets will commonly buzz the book cliffs at around 200’ AGL on approach to GJT airspace. Keep your head on a swivel.
    • Mack also has an active airport. There is not controlled airspace around this airport, but be aware of low-flying private pilots
  • Backcountry site
    • If you end up in trouble out here, prepare yourself for a long wait before help arrives.

Other Thoughts

  • An abundant soaring bird population serve as great thermal markers
  • Winter thermalling potential?
    • On the day we were there (November 10th), Eric hooked a couple moderate thermals and ended up 1500’ over launch. He did a bit of XC and crossed Hunter canyon before valley winds started getting strong. These cliffs are almost perfectly perpendicular to the sun, even in the winter, which may allow for winter thermalling.

Anyways, that’s enough word vomit. I hope that some people get out and fly this site! At least we have somewhere to go next time we’re sitting at Otto’s and watching beautiful cumies pop over the book cliffs…

Solid Cycles

One of the launches (Eric for scale)

Looking up from the bottom

P.S. sorry for the lack of actual flying pictures. I bombed out like a fool during our first scouting mission and didn't document anything after we took off.

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