Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway

Details

  • DesignationNational Scenic Byway (1996)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric
  • LocationCO
  • Length63 miles
Byway Visitor Information
Grand Mesa National Scenic and Historic Byway
Statewide Byway Partners
Colorado Department of Transportation
Colorado Tourism
Atop the Grand Mesa
Sally Pearce Photo

Overview

This "playground in the sky" climbs from the rugged Plateau Canyon floor to the cool evergreen mesa forests, 11,000 feet up. Featured are hundreds of sparkling lakes, wildflower meadows and forests of shimmering aspen and pine. Take a side trip to Lands End Overlook where the Grand Valley unfolds below.

Local Byway Partners
  • Care for Colorado Coalition

Story of the Byway

The Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway is 63 miles of plateaus and forests, climbing 11,000 feet above sea level. Also known as the “playground in the sky,” this route is home to abundant wildlife—porcupines, mountain lions, coyotes, red fox, elk and deer on land alone. Three types of trout—rainbow, cutthroat and brook—live in the massive stream-fed lake system. North of the Grand Mesa and east of Grand Junction, Plateau Creek is a tributary of the Colorado River, approximately 50 miles long, that drains the adjacent cattle ranching valley.

Within the Grand Mesa National Forest, visitors will find alpine meadows, a lengthy trail system, and dozens of trout lakes. Situated atop the world’s largest flat-topped mountain, Lands End Overlook reveals the valley below and far-extending views. The town of Cedaredge, located on the southern side of Grand Mesa, is home to orchards and white ash groves—a perfect fall retreat for the harvest season. In the winter, Grand Mesa is perfect for snowshoeing, skiing and snowmobiling. The northern gateway to the byway, Mesa is a good stop for provisions and a tour of old barns. Offering pristine nature and outdoor pursuits, this byway is rich in year-round recreation or simply for a scenic emerald forest drive.

Driving Directions

From I-70, take CO-65N and CO-330E to 57 1/2 Rd for 26 miles, then take 59 Rd, Forest Rd 121 and Forestr Rd 257 to Forest Rd 2571E for 18 miles until you reach Grand Mesa. From Grand Mesa, follow Forestr Rd 257 and Forest Rd 121 to Surface Creek Rd in Delta County, and continue on this road for 14 miles to Cedaredge.

Points of Interest

  • Grand Mesa National Forest

    The Grand Mesa National Forest is a forest in Mesa, Delta and Garfield Counties in Western Colorado.

  • Palisade Historical Society

    The Palisade Historical Society is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and communicating the unique history of this small, Western Colorado town which was settled in the 1890s.

Itinerary

  • Autumn on the Mesa

    Day 1
    Starting in Ridgway, enjoy breakfast at True Grit Café, named after the movie that was filmed here. Set up camp in nearby Ridgway State Park, a 1,000-acre reservoir off the Uncompahgre River. Spend the day hiking, boating or fishing, and rest through the night at camp. Alternatively, return to town to visit the creative district.
    Day 2
    Pack a picnic for a 2-hour drive through the Grand Mesa National Forest. Stop for a brisk hike on any of the many trails and set up lunch in an alpine meadow. Continue to Cedaredge, located on the southern side of Grand Mesa, where you can visit vineyards and orchards and enjoy live music. In October, plan your visit during Applefest. Before sunset, head to Lands End Overlook, the world’s largest flat-topped mountain, where you can see as far as your originating point near Ridgway.

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