Grand Junction is famous for the one and only, Nature's Trifecta, which is a combination of three contrasting and unique geographical landscapes that can't be found anywhere else in the world! They include Colorado National Monument, known as the mini Grand Canyon; the Grand Mesa, the largest flat-top mountain in the world with over 300 lakes; and Rattlesnake Arches, the second-most natural arches in the world.
As the largest flat-top mountain in the world and bursting with over 300 alpine lakes, the Grand Mesa stands proudly as one of nature's greatest accomplishments.
Just 45 minutes from Grand Junction, the Grand Mesa towers above the area at over 10,000 feet in elevation. As the largest flat-top mountain in the world bursting with over 300 alpine lakes, the Grand Mesa has four distinct seasons of outdoor pursuits – making it a sportsman's paradise. From scenic trails and natural springs to Nordic skiing and a 32-mile downhill mountain bike thrill, the Grand Mesa is perfect for those looking for unique year-round adventures.
As the winter season ends and the snow begins to melt, the Grand Mesa sprouts a colorful display of wildflowers. Check out the short 0.25-mile roundtrip Discovery Trail located at the Grand Mesa Visitor Center to view an array of natural flora. Another easy hike is the 1.5-mile roundtrip Mesa Lakes Shoreline Trail where you can see trout swimming in the crystal-clear alpine water.
During the summer months, the Grand Mesa is an excellent escape for those looking to beat the heat while still exploring the great outdoors. The Grand Mesa averages about 20 degrees cooler than Grand Junction - making it the perfect place to spend a summer day. The comfortable weather is perfect for fishing, hiking and mountain biking. With over 300 lakes on the Grand Mesa, fishing opportunities are endless. Island Lake is the largest lake and has wheelchair accessibility and a boat ramp with plenty of adjacent parking.
Fall is one of the most popular times of the year to visit the Grand Mesa as a kaleidoscope of color paints the slopes and shorelines. Golden aspens contrast against the dark green pine trees - making for the perfect backdrop for photos.
The recommended route is to drive up Lands End Road, which opens in June depending on the snowpack. This route consists of a switchback dirt road that features a waterfall named Kannah Creek Falls, and a natural spring where you can fill up your water bottle with fresh alpine water. The waterfall is located about 750 feet after the spring when going up the Grand Mesa on Lands End Road.
At the top is Lands End Observatory where there are spectacular views that reach over 70 miles away to the La Sal Mountains of eastern Utah and the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. The city of Grand Junction and the Colorado River can be seen closer in the foreground. This vantage point provides perspective of how large the Mesa is and how abruptly it drops off to the valley below.
Just like the rest of Colorado, the Grand Mesa transforms into a winter wonderland. With an average of 250 inches of snowfall a year, the Grand Mesa has the perfect snowpack for just about every popular outdoor winter sport that exists. Downhill ski or snowboard at Colorado’s friendliest and affordable ski resort, Powderhorn Mountain Resort or explore miles of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the machine-groomed trails managed by the Grand Mesa Nordic Council (GMNC). Snowshoers are limited to the Ward Lake Trail System when using the Grand Mesa Nordic Ski trails and are also encouraged to walk on the sides of the tracks on the groomed trails.
For those looking for some good old-fashioned family fun, check out Old Powderhorn sledding hill or grab your fishing pole and drop a line in one of Grand Mesa's 300 frozen lakes. Sunset Lake near Mesa Lakes Lodge is a local favorite fishing hole because of its accessibility and proximity to the parking area. The Grand Mesa also offers miles of snowmobile trails, so if you prefer an adrenaline-filled snow adventure, load up the sleds, grab your helmets and be sure to check the avalanche report before gassing up the machines. Rentals are available at several lodges on the Grand Mesa.
For more ways to experience the outdoors in Grand Junction, check out the Official Grand Junction Visitor Guide.