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Your guide to Grand Mesa
All About Grand Mesa
Located in western Colorado, Grand Mesa makes up for its lack of urban amenities with a plethora of campgrounds, hiking trails, and waters suitable for swimming and fishing alike. Colorado’s wine region is nearby, and between the wineries and neighboring cities, you won’t lack for delicious meals and drinks to replenish your energy levels after all your outdoor adventuring.
The flat-topped structure of this mountain received its unique shape many millennia ago, when ancient lava and water ate away at its shale and sandstone layers, and tectonic shifts sent the formation rising thousands of feet above ground; the result was the extraordinary natural wonder that now draws in visitors year-round. Atop the flat Grand Mesa is the famous 63-mile scenic byway where you can (carefully) drive, taking in the National Forest’s 300 stream-fed alpine lakes surrounded by spruce and pine trees. Wildlife like bald eagles, porcupine, black bears, and cougars roam freely amid the epic scenery.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Grand Mesa
This natural paradise is a suitable destination for adventure seekers any time of year, but Grand Mesa is especially spectacular during the summer, when the terrain is exploding with greenery and the air is dry with nary a lick of humidity. Because it sits 6,000 feet above the nearby city of Grand Junction, summer temperatures stay comfortably warm during the day, while evenings cool down considerably, so you’ll want to have a jacket or extra layers on hand. Fall is also a great time to visit, when the temperatures turn crisp and the aspen trees light up in shades of yellow, red, and gold. During the snowy winters, you can cross-country ski, downhill ski, snowboard, and ice fish to your heart’s content. As the land reawakens in springtime, temperatures remain on the cool side, but are ideal for some heart-pounding outdoor fun.
Top things to do in Grand Mesa
Around Grand Mesa, a number of family-run farms produce not just juicy apples, but squash, peaches, plums, and cherries. At many of these farms, if you show up around harvest season, you’re welcome to walk into the orchards to pick your own. Take your time meandering through the orchards to find the ripest fruit, and bring the makings of a picnic so you can enjoy what you’ve gathered afterward.
Lands End Overlook
Highway 65, a scenic byway, crosses Grand Mesa, taking visitors from the canyon up past aspen trees, fruit orchards, and vineyards to an awe-inspiring alpine peak. Driving this highway is a real thrill, especially when you stop at Lands End Overlook, where you’ll peer over a 10,000-foot drop, with the Rocky Mountains and forests stretching out for hundreds of miles in every direction.
Grand Mesa National Forest
Grand Mesa National Forest abounds with outdoor recreation opportunities, whether you’re up for a challenging 10-mile hike on Crag Crest Trail or a lazy day of trout fishing in well-stocked lakes. The forest teems with life — moose grazing in the meadows, black bears going about their business — and you’re welcome to bring your dog to explore the forest with you.