Grand Mesa Summit is a large mesa in western Colorado encompassing 500-square miles and stretching for about 40 miles east of Grand Junction. The mesa rises over a mile above the surrounding river valleys.
Begin in Mesa at Blink Coffee Shop.
Ride Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway (SH 65) pass Powderhorn Ski area--mile 7.5
Onward to Grand Mesa Summit--mile 9
Stop at the Grand Mesa Visitors Center--mile 22.5
Continue and Finish in Cedaredge--mile 38.5
This climb is what you might call ‘relentless’. Though not the typical mountain summit climbing to the top of a mesa, it is a straight climb and without a true break. The grade ranges from three to six percent and is extremely scenic (enough to take your mind away from the ascent). Make sure to carry plenty of water and snacks, because help is sparse. Keep your eyes alert for the growing population of Moose!
Grand Junction, 56.8 miles east
Cedaredge, 23.4 miles south
Grand Mesa is the largest flat-topped mountain in the entire world.
Powderhorn Mountain Resort, next to Grand Mesa to the east, is known for its great snow and some of the best tree-skiing in the Rocky Mountains.
The Ute name for Grand Mesa is ‘Thigunawat” which translates into “Home of the departed spirits’. There is a legend of a giant serpent that lived at the base of Grand Mesa:
‘Long ago a Ute chief and his son had camped out at the base of the Mesa. While he was away hunting, ‘Bahaa Nieche’ one of the Thunderbirds swooped into camp and took his son. The Chief angrily dressed himself up in sacred red cedar and began to climb the cliffs up to where the nests were. It took all day to make that climb and when the giant bird flew overhead the Chief would hold very still to make himself look like a tree.
When he got to the top the Chief found his son had already been devoured. To take revenge on the thunderbirds he threw their chicks out of the nest where they fell to the base of the cliff’s and were quickly eaten by the great serpent who lived below.
Later when the thunderbirds returned and saw their nests empty, they suspected the serpent and swooped down, took him in their talons and carried him up as high as their wings would take them. There in the air they ripped the giant snake apart with their beaks and claws. The pieces fell back to earth and hit with such tremendous force they created the hundreds of small lakes that dot the valley floor.’
Grand Mesa is one of the three National Forests that make up the GMUG which spans 3,161,900 acres of public land. Uncompahgre and Gunnison Forests are the other two National Forests. There is a wide variety of wildlife and a new moose herd that was reintroduced on the Grand Mesa, which has thus far been very successful.