The Grand Mesa (5 Sept 2014)

(Last Updated On: September 9, 2014)

The Grand Mesa is something I’ve known about for a long time. I first laid my eyes on it in the mid-90’s when traveling through Grand Junction. But, to be honest, I didn’t really think much about it…. Until about 7 years later when I was biking on a hot day in Fruita. As I complained about the heat, a local explained that during the summer months he rode “more often than not on the Mesa” seeking cooler temperatures.

From then on, the Grand Mesa has been on my radar. And although I’ve driven right by it countless times, I had not visited it. So, when my mom came into to visit from Ohio and wanted to go on some scenic drives, the Grand Mesa came to mind.

From Crested Butte, the Grand Mesa is best accessed by going over Kebler Pass and then through Cedaredge. We found ourselves quickly ascending out of the agricultural valley and into aspen forests as we climbed the Mesa. A look down at the valley and back at the West Elks as we ascended.
ascending road on Grand Mesa

It did not take us long before we arrived at the new visitor’s center and Cobbett Lake.
Cobbett Lake on the Grand Mesa

The Grand Mesa is full of lakes – about 300 of them. It is a fishing paradise! This is Island Lake.
Island Lake on Grand Mesa

Standing at an elevation of 10,000 to 11,000 feet on average, the Grand Mesa stands about 6000 feet above the surrounding valley floors. Needless to say, temperatures are much cooler up on the Mesa! This is a view from the Mesa looking toward the Grand Valley.
view NW on the Grand Mesa

The view north to the desert mesas.
view north on Grand Mesa

At the Skyview Overlook, we turned around and headed back south to make the turn westward on the historic Land’s End Road. There were occasional wildflowers still milling around.
paintbrush on the Grand Mesa

The Grand Mesa is the largest flat-topped mountain in the world, being about 500 square miles in area. It’s lower sedimentary layers are capped with basaltic rock that was created by lava flows from fissures about 10 million years ago.
view westward on the Grand Mesa

The Land’s End road twists and winds through the western edge of the Mesa. It is truly an historic road, being built in the 1933 and ’34 by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp), to alleviate the unemployment rates caused by the Great Depression.
Land's End road on Grand Mesa

The Land’s End road is formerly called “Veteran’s Road” as many WWI veterans helped to built it.
Land's End road on Grand Mesa

Before the Land’s End road drops off the edge of the Mesa, there is an historic Visitor’s Center.
historic Visitor's Center on Grand Mesa

This historic visitor’s center sits at about 10,500′ and was built in 1936-37 by the US Forest Service and the WPA (Works Progress Administration). It’s architecture is to be admired as the builders used nearby basaltic rock to form the walls and barriers for the overlook.
visitor's center on Grand Mesa

While the Visitor’s Center doesn’t seem to be used much anymore, the area has become more of an observation point. And a great one at that. A look toward the Grand Valley and the Bookcliffs.
Bookcliffs seen from the Grand Mesa

This chipmunk seems to have a pretty good life.
chipmunk on Grand Mesa

My mom enjoying the views.
Inga Walker on Grand Mesa

The La Sal Mountains in Utah, to the west.
La Sal Mountains seen from Grand Mesa

After spending some time enjoying the views, we headed down the Land’s End Road. This is a dirt road that, although requires some slower speeds, does not necessarily require a 4-wheel drive car. Most two-wheel drive vehicles would be fine on this. While it is kept up well, the Land’s End Road is still a 9.2-mile amazing feat of engineering – especially where the road was blasted through the cap rock near the top.
Land's End Road on Grand Mesa

As we reached the valley floor, we were on the border where green meets desert.
bottom of Grand Mesa on west side

The Grand Mesa is a very cool place that I’m glad to have visited. I hope to get back soon to experience more of what the Grand Mesa has to offer through some biking or hiking adventures.

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things,Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate 🙂 Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

Latest posts by Brittany Walker Konsella (see all)

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things, Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate :) Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

Got something to say? We love your comments!