IT’S BIG, REALLY BIG: Your Quick Guide to Sizing Up the Grand Mesa

Grand Mesa is the largest, flat-topped mountain in the world, spanning 541 square miles and rising between 5,000 and 11,000 feet of elevation. It offers year ‘round recreation from pristine fishing to the longest snowmobile trail in the lower 48. Alpine forests with wildflower carpets provide the backdrop for camping, hiking and mtn biking. Unique dining and lodging are ready for you.

This playground in the sky has been used by people as far back at 10,000 years ago. Early man stayed on the mesa and hunted, gathered for the winter and enjoyed the cooler temperatures (OK, we don’t know about that last one, but we can assume). Today people enjoy the numerous trails and views of five different mountain ranges. Many long time memories have been made and will continue. Add your story.

1. CAMPING WITH A VIEW
23 developed campgrounds on the Grand Mesa, along with cabin rentals and more isolated dispersed camping areas means that you can find a spot that suits you and your style of camping. With some pre-planning you can find a perfect place to set-up while enjoying the trails and sites of the Grand Mesa.

Lake near County Line. Photo by Alan Ace Brown

2. MOUNTAIN BIKING YOUR WAY
There are so many trails, did I mention that the Grand Mesa is big?  The many single- track backcountry trails offer riders of all experience levels a wide variety of riding terrain. Pedal along our many numbered roads and trails, except in wilderness areas or other trails as posted. Grand Mesa Bike Trails. You can also be one of the great volunteers to create the Palisade Plunge a sweet 32 miles of singletrack that will connect the top of Grand Mesa (10,700’) to the Town of Palisade (4,700’) that’s 6,000’ of relief.

photo courtesy Grand Mesa Lodge

3. FISHING MECA
OK, so there are many great places to fish in Colorado, but none quite like this. Deep, clear mountain lakes mean that some of the biggest lunkers ever have been pulled out of the Grand MesaLakes. You have 300 of them to choose from. So if you are looking to catch the big one or enjoy a day of quiet solitude you may have met your match. Fishing on the Grand Mesa.

The view from Crag Crest Trail. Photo by Joseph Schwarz

4. HIKING HERE IS EPIC
Try the Crag Crest National Recreation Trail. There are many trails on the Grand Mesa, from Short Hikes to the Crag Crest. No matter whether you just need to stretch your legs (Land O Lakes Overlook is my favorite for that) or you want a selfie from the top of the world, we have what you need and what you want.

Lands End Observatory. Photo courtesy Colorado Detours.
Dig into the prime rib sandwich at Lost Mesa Grill in Cedaredge

5. ALL OF THIS PLAY NEEDS A REFILL
You have come to one of the best playgrounds in Colorado. For a well deserved meal and a beer you can visit one of the lodges on top. Mesa Lakes LodgeGrand Mesa Lodge or Alexander Lake Lodge all offer high altitude fill ups. You will also find great eateries in Mesa and Cedaredge and full services in Grand Junction.

The Grand Mesa National Scenic and Historic Byway runs through the Grand Mesa from exit 49 off of I-70 to the Town of Cedaredge. It also includes a trip to Lands End Observatory for great views of the valley below and five different mountain ranges.

Cover image: Mesa at Sunset. Photo by James O Thompson

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