Grand Mesa National Forest
"Grand Mesa" is a fitting name for the world's largest flattop mountain and one that implies the prospect of a grand adventure any time of year. The snow-crested mountains of Utah and Colorado, the dramatic Book Cliffs, and the long, fertile Uncompahgre Valley define the view from atop this 10,000-foot mesa.
Aside from fantastic views from Crag Crest Trail, Lands End, and numerous overlooks, the Grand Mesa separates itself from the norm by offering over 200 trout-filled lakes, lush trails, abundant camping sites (both established and dispersed), cabins and lodges, and even a ski resort (Powderhorn).
Warm Season Activities
Camping at one of the 12 Forest Service campgrounds is a great way to spend extra days exploring the Mesa. Most established camping areas are located along the shores of quiet lakes, affording convenient access for spending time on the water and fishing. ATV enthusiasts can navigate to less accessible areas for special views and greater solitude, while hikers can select inspiring hikes. Wildflowers in mid to late summer add to the luster of a Grand Mesa visit.
Cold Season Activities
The geography of the Grand Mesa creates an ideal setting for cross-country skiing, showshoeing, and snowmobiling. If downhill skiing is your forte, visit Powderhorn Mountain Resort for an outstanding day on the slopes at one of Colorado's lesser-known ski areas. All-season anglers enjoy numerous options for ice fishing on the Mesa's abundant lakes.
Grand Mesa National Forest is located north of Montrose via U.S. Highway 50 (20 miles), Hwy 92 (3.8 miles), and Hwy 65 (26 miles) to the visitor center near the summit.
Making It a Day Trip?
The route to the Grand Mesa along Hwy 65 goes through Cedaredge, the heart of the Surface Creek valley’s orchard country. Over 75% of Colorado’s prized apples are grown here, the distinction behind the community's Apple Festival celebrated in October. Make a short stop at one of the orchards or fruit stands to get succulent peaches, apples, apricots, pears, or cherries to feast on during your trip.
When you have completed your tour of the Grand Mesa, take the same route back to Montrose, or try Lands End Road for the most scenic and exciting route off of the Mesa. This gravel road, with 55 switchback curves, leads down the west side of the Mesa to U.S. Highway 50 and affords spectacular views.
At U.S. Highway 50, turn left and travel about 19 miles south to Escalante Canyon for a short side trip. The Canyon was named after Spanish missionary explorers Dominguez and Escalante who traveled this route in 1876 in search of an easy route between Santa Fe and California.