Colorado Scenic Byways Map
Grand Mesa Scenic Byway
Before settlers came west, the Native American people populated Colorado, Utah and the surrounding areas. The Ute Indian tribe lived in the Grand Mesa Area and called the Grand Mesa "Thunder Mountain" because of how the mesa towers over the valley 6,000' below. In 1776, the Utes guided Europeans through the area. Later, buggy trips would bring touring travelers to area. Stage lines and freight wagons soon replaced the buggy trips. In 1911, road improvements were made from convict labor provided easier travel. In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps built "Veteran Road" (now Land's End road) that twists its way to the top of the mesa. Other improvements over the years have made the byway one of the easiest to travel.
Starting in Mesa, the byway travels through Grand Mesa, Gunnison, and Uncompahgre National Forests to end in Cedaredge. The 63-mile road goes through the canyon up to the top of the mesa at 11,000' above sea level. Give yourself an hour and a half along Highway 65 and an additional 30 minutes to travel Land's End to see everything there is to offer.
Along the byway, you can travel through various scenery changes: start in a desert canyon and pass aspen foothills, lakes, alpine forests, lily ponds, and meadows bursting with wildflowers as you make your way to the top. The byway provides many scenic overlooks to view each of these Colorado beauties.
For two wonderful overlooks, be sure to hike the Land-O-Lakes Overlook to see many of the lakes surrounding the area. Or, drive up to the top of the mesa on Land's End Road. At the top, you can visit Land's End Observatory and look down the 6,000' to the bottom of the canyon.
The area also boasts many recreational activities. Blessed with over 300 stream fed lakes full of rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout, you can fish or go small lake boating. On many of the trails, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding is a favorite pastime in the area. During the fall and winter months, big game hunting, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and skiing at the Powderhorn Ski Area are popular activities.
The annual Cedaredge AppleFest takes place in the fall so if you're taking a fun fall drive and want to end it with a delicious slice of apple pie, live music, and crafts, you should stop on by.
Location: From Grand Junction, take I-70 east for about 10 miles to CO Highway 330. Turn right and drive for a few miles until you get to Mesa.
More Activities & Information
Grand Mesa Area, Colorado includes: Austin, Cedaredge, Collbran, Eckert, Mesa