Family Holiday Fun Any Time of the Year on Top of Grand Mesa
The State of Colorado boasts the largest number of 14,000 foot peaks in the United States, and also is home (according to some) to the largest flat-top mountain in the world, Grand Mesa. If you are looking for an outdoor adventure that offers something for everyone who loves the outdoors, Grand Mesa will do exactly that. It provides the outdoor enthusiast with a true bargain holiday. Many of its activities are free.
Rising for more than 5000 feet above the valley floor to elevations over 11,000 feet, you will see more variety of flora and fauna than you can identify. Combine holiday and travel for the entire family with this truly inspirational get-a-way.
Grand Mesa is a part of Grand Mesa National Forest and is most easily accessible by three routes and it’s a part of Colorado Scenic Byways.
1) Traveling west on I-70 from Denver to Grand Junction, or east on I-70 from Grand Junction to Denver, take exit 49 up DeBeque Canyon to Highway 65 and continue south through Mesa towards Cedaredge and Delta. The route over the tope of Grand Mesa is open year round except for occasional snow slides that may close it for a few hours or for occasional severe snow storms that dump enough snow that the road crews can’t keep it clear.
2) Traveling north or south through Delta, take Highway 92 east 4 miles and take Highway 65 north to Orchard City, Cory, Eckert, and through Cedaredge to access the top.
3) Traveling north from Delta to Grand Junction or south from Grand Junction, take Highway at to access the western point of Grand Mesa called Lands End. This road is graveled but good enough for highway cars usually from around the first of June through September. It is not maintained in the winter and is not open to travel.
Grand Mesa is a 4 season play ground including but not limited to the following spring, summer, and fall activities:
o Sight seeing
o Dining at one of the fine lodges on top
o Wild flower identification
o Jeep Trails
o Four Wheeling
o ATV Trails
o Horseback Riding
Grand Mesa rises through ecosystems, including subalpine, montane, and high desert. Formations vary including hoodoos, pediments or terraces, bookcliffs, canyons of the Mesa Verde group that include petroglyphs from Fremont Indians, talas slopes, igneous rock, lava flows, slumping and toe loading.
Vegetation again offers such a variety with tamarisk, cottonwood, willows, juniper, pinon, cactus, sage, conifers, fir, spruce, Colorado Columbine, pasque flowers, sulfur flowers, choke cherry, service berry, mountain candytuft, violets, Indian paintbrushes (red, pink, and cream colored), monk’s hood, monkey flower, and many more.
Chipmunks, squirrels, marmots, birds of all kinds, fox, coyotes, deer, elk, bear, and believe it or not, moose inhabit these slopes and meadows. Early mornings and dusk are ideal times to spot wildlife, but don’t be surprised with sightings during mid-day, especially of the smaller variety.
Oh, and did I mention that Grand Mesa is home to about 300 lakes and reservoirs and uncountable streams and creeks, most of which contain game fish including rainbow trout, cutthroat, lake, brown trout, and mountain white fish. Fishing is available year round, including ice fishing.
Winter adventures and activities include, but are not limited to:
o Dog sled races
o Downhill skiing
o Cross-country skiing
o Ice fishing
o Winter camping
When you vacation on Grand Mesa, may I offer just a few helpful hints? Temperature and weather extremes have to be expected, even during summer days and nights. At elevations above 10,000 feet, go prepared for the worst, and the worst can include snow and hail showers any month of the year. On the other hand, expect lots of sunshine and sunscreen, head covering, and layers of clothing are essential. And DON’T forget the insect repellant. Grand Mesa grows a huge mosquito population from mid June until mid August.