Grand Mesa National Forest
Before our unexpected week-long stay in Grand Junction, Colorado, we didn’t even know Grand Mesa National Forest existed. The clerk at the front desk of our KOA mentioned it as one of the places we must see while in the area. Thank goodness for locals!
The drive to Grand Mesa took about an hour, and once we began climbing the mountain took us through small towns with local produce stands and campgrounds. My Weatherbug app forecast the Grand Mesa daytime temperature at mid-70’s so we only took windbreakers, even though we had been warned it would be colder. Of course, when we arrived at the visitor center, we realized our mistake. The ranger told us it hadn’t climbed above 50° all week, and today would be no exception. Thankfully, the visitor center had the typical souvenir sweatshirts available, so we purchased one for each of us, bought our park pass, and picked up a trail map before heading out.
Land’s End Overlook
Our first destination inside the park was Land’s End Overlook. It faces Grand Junction and the Colorado National Monument and it seems like you can see forever.
Right in front of us though, a family of chipmunks entertained everyone present, scooting over and around rocks and through cracks in the wall.
Lost Lake Trail
This was our chosen hike – up the mountain, along a few switchbacks, past one hidden lake surrounded by meadow, to Lost Lake, which was tucked between steep mountain grades with boulders and gravel for its shoreline. Jerry is convinced that I only choose hikes with hefty elevation changes, but what else are you going to find in the mountains? It was a worthwhile hike and we each parked on a boulder by the lake, talked with some other hikers and threw sticks for their dogs while we rested before heading back the way we came.
There’s far more to do in this park than our time allowed. There are numerous hiking opportunities, great fishing spots known for their large Rainbow Trout, and a couple of campgrounds for those with smaller rigs.
Our return trip to Grand Junction followed a different route, through deep and winding red rock canyons and through the small town of Palisades, known for their peaches and wine. We bought a small bag of peaches at a roadside stand that turned out to be the best peaches I’ve ever had. Palisades could be an afternoon or evening trip all on its own, with wineries, farm stands, and local artisans showing their work.
For more information about Grand Mesa, visit the National Forest Service website.
What unexpected treasures have you come across in your travels?