Located in western Colorado, the Grand Mesa National Forest covers most of Grand Mesa and part of Battlement Mesa. It was the third forest reserve created in the United States and is the largest flat-top mountain in the world. Throughout the summer months, visitors come here to escape the heat from the valley below. They can enjoy hiking, mountain biking over the varied terrain, and fishing at one of the 300 alpine lakes.
With over 3,000 miles of trails, the Grand Mesa National Forest provides both rugged beauty and solitude. With an RV conveniently provided by RVshare, you can get a restful night’s sleep on the mesa and wake up to enjoy the sunrise over a crystal clear alpine lake.
The Big Creek Campground is located near Collbran, CO. It has a boat ramp, picnic tables, and toilets. Most of the campsites are shaded and there is hiking and fishing nearby. However, there are no water or electric hook-ups. The rates are $14 per night per camping unit. Firewood bundles are available for $6 each. The campground is open from mid-June until late September.
The Weir and Johnson Campground consists of 12 campsites located at an elevation of 10,500 feet. It is a single loop between Weir and Johnson and Sackett Reservoirs, with many of the sites overlooking one of the reservoirs. This is a peaceful location surrounded by Engelmann spruce. There are no electric or water hook-ups. There is one vault toilet. Rates are $14 per night per campsite. Firewood is available for $6 per bundle. The campground is open from mid-June through late September.
With 20 RV sites and many amenities, Grand Mesa RV Park and General Store will make sure you’re cared for. In addition to water and electric hook-ups, there are restrooms and showers on site. You can also buy groceries as well as bulk water and propane. If you are craving a treat, the general store has milkshakes, pizza, and wings for sale. Daily rates are $44 per RV. Weekly rates are $264. Monthly rates are $475.
This out-and-back trail features a lake with several places to stop and fish along the way. There is plenty of shade, and the elevation gain is fairly moderate at only 423 feet. The trail is best visited from March to October.
Length: 2.2 miles
This popular trail near Mesa Lakes features three lakes and has a moderate elevation gain of 429 feet. It is often used for nature trips and bird watching as well as for hikes. While there are a few trickier switchbacks, for the most part, this is a good trail for all skill levels. Thanks to the aspens, it is lovely in the fall and is best visited from March to October.
Length: 3.5 miles
A lightly trafficked trail, the Kannah Creek will get you away from the crowds. It is located near Mesa and features a lake as well as a more substantial elevation gain of over 4,000 feet. Because of its altitude, it is recommended that the trail be visited from June through August. Horseback riding is allowed on this trail.
Length: 16.2 miles
Crag Crest Trail is a well-trafficked trail that is particularly popular in the spring, thanks to the many wildflowers that you will see while hiking it. The trailhead is located near Cedaredge and forms a wide loop back around. The trail features a lake and is ideal for nature trips. Horses are allowed on this trail.
Length: 10.3 miles
This less-trafficked out-and-back trail located near Mesa is open and accessible year-round. In the spring, it features beautiful wildflowers while in the winter it is great for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There is a gradual elevation gain of over 1,100 feet.
Length: 12.2 miles
The Grand Mesa National Forest encompasses a wide variety of landscapes and elevations, which lends it to a diversity of plants. Visitors can explore everything from canyons where scrub-oak and pinyon trees hold sway to plateaus filled with ponderosa pines and aspens and lush alpine meadows. The park is particularly popular in mid-summer during peak wildflower season. Visitors will see abundant groupings of columbine, paintbrush, fireweed, delphiniums, mountain bluebells, and many more. Many rock and mineral enthusiasts as well as amateur paleontologists enjoy exploring the various topographies of the park. Geodes and other interesting specimens can be found.
The park is also home to thriving populations of over 55,000 elk, 150,000 mule deer, and 500 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep as well as 150 desert bighorn sheep. While more elusive, Canadian lynx, pine martens, mountain lions and black bears also make their home in the park. A small moose herd of about 100 has recently been introduced to the Grand Mesa National Forest as well. Bird-watchers will enjoy keeping their eyes out for the Gunnison sage grouse, Mexican spotted owls, boreal owls, bald eagles, peregrine falcons and many other avian species.
Anglers will find many fishing opportunities on the Gunnison, Taylor, Uncompahgre and San Miguel Rivers as well as the numerous smaller creeks that run through the park. Rainbow trout, browns, cutthroats and brookies are particularly plentiful.
Stargazing is a wonderful hobby on the plateau as it is sufficiently removed from larger urban areas so that light pollution is minimal. There are a number of geocaches hidden in the area as well.
Address: 2230 South Main St., Delta, CO 81416
Fee: Entry fee $0
Grand Mesa National Forest provides a unique range of ecosystems to explore. Summer in the park is particularly delightful thanks to the explosion of wildflowers. The pristine mountain streams are great for anglers. By camping in an RV, you can enjoy stargazing at night and, then, wake up to see the sunrise over a mountain lake.