Escape the heat by retreating to Grand Mesa
DENVER — Expect temperatures to be 10 or so degrees cooler as you ascend the world’s largest flattop mountain.
As such, Grand Mesa is a great getaway from the summertime heat on the Grand Valley floor and, as the home of the Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway, Colorado Highway 65, the mesa has plenty of grand views.
Grand Mesa, which gets as high as 11,000 feet, offers plenty to do for those seeking a relaxing time or something more challenging for a few hours or a day.
As much of the mesa is part of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests, there are plenty of recreational opportunities.
There are more than 100 natural lakes and reservoirs stocked for trout fishing and miles of hiking trails from which to choose.
For a easy hike, consider the Discovery Trail near The Forest Service’s Visitor’s Center along the highway.
For a more challenging hike, there’s the 10.3-mile Crag Crest Trail.
In between, there are plenty of trails around Mesa Lake and Island Lake, also right off the highway.
There are a number of campgrounds and picnic areas as well, and information on many of the mesa’s recreational activities can be found at http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/gmug/recreation/.
If you’re more inclined to check out shops or eateries, be sure to stop in at Mesa Lakes Resort and the towns of Mesa and Cedaredge, also home to the Pioneer Town Museum.
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SEE IT, DO IT
From bicycling to horseback riding to winter sports, the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests have something to offer everyone, regardless of one’s physical condition.
Visitors can tackle any of the 3,500 miles of trails — hike, bike, motorcycle riding — or sit around at the campfire at any of its 58 campgrounds and 13 picnic areas.
At 3.1 million acres, the national forests are bigger than the state of Delaware.
It ranges in elevation from 5,800 feet at the bottom of Roubiedau Creek Canyon in the southwest corner of Delta County to as high as 14,309 feet at the apex of Uncompahgre Peak in Hinsdale County.
It includes numerous views, such as the Bridal Veil Falls, the Grand Mesa and the Alpine Tunnel in Pitkin County, once the highest railroad tunnel on the continent.
For information about the forests, go to http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/gmug/recreation/.