Grand Mesa - Grand Junction, CO - a natural wonder formed by centuries of erosion



With an estimate area of five hundred square miles and expanding for forty miles the Grand Mesa in Colorado is the world's largest mesa. The Mesa is between the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers and the north side is drained by Plateau Creek which is the Colorado's smaller tributary. The Grand Mesa reaches an elevation of over eleven thousand feet at its highest point and a large portion of it is in the Grand Mesa National Forest.

The Grand Mesa contains more than three hundred lakes that include a number of reservoirs created for the purpose of irrigation and drinking. The mesa is a result of a layer of hard volcanic basalt that covers it. Basalt flows and suppressed erosion of the sedimentary rock layers that suffered from the Gunnison and Colorado rivers cutting into them around ten million years ago. Green River and Wasatch Formations are the names given to the top layer that rests on the thick sequence of sandstone and Tertiary shale which are resting on the Mesaverde Group which is a crustaceous layer forming the cliff approximately half way up the mesa's side.

State Highway 65 which runs between Mesa and Cedaredge is used to travel through the Grand Mesa. The route allows visitors to enjoy a view of drastic changes in the vegetation, climate and landscape. The north end of the road passes the Powderhorn Resort.

The supervisor's office for Grand Mesa is open weekdays from eight in the morning until five in the evening. The hours of ranger districts vary by location and should be contacted individually to confirm. The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests facilities are located at 2250 Highway 50 in Delta, Colorado. The facility has a special line for use by the hearing impaired for making inquires.

The Grand Mesa National Forest's northern half is in the Collbran Ranger District while the southern half and the Uncompahgre Plateau's northern end are in the Grand Junction Ranger District. The Grand Junction District can be found around Cedaredge and Delta at the east and south ends of Grand Junction.

There are a number of recreational activities to participate in at the Grand Mesa National Forest. Skiing, camping and sightseeing are just a few of the activities that you can participate in. Visitors may also enjoy horseback riding or backpacking depending on their preference. Boating snowmobiling, mountain biking or just relaxing and having a picnic are also possibilities.

The Cag Crest Trail offers visitors ten miles of hiking around a loop in the Grand Mesa. The recommended season for hiking on the trail is from summer to fall. The trail has a moderate difficulty rating and hikers are asked to stay on the trail to limit their impact on the surrounding area. While Cag Crest Trail is the only hiking trail there are twenty-three trails in the Grand Mesa National Park for those that want to go horseback riding.

The natural beauty of the Grand Mesa and the advantage of park facilities since it is park of the Colorado State Park System make it the ideal place to visit in Grand Junction, Colorado.

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