Grand Mesa – Crags Crest

Many people feel state borders, especially out-West, make little sense.

The neat, square boundaries that we like to impose on the landscape ignore geographical boundaries such as rivers and mountains or cultural boundaries. A farmer from Colorado’s plains has more in common with their (sometimes literal) next-door neighbor in the Nebraska Panhandle than with people in Colorado’s Front Range and nearby mountain communities.

Powell proposed dividing up the West by river basins, and a modern classic noted that there’s de facto division of North America that does not neatly follow our state line boundaries.

As such, both the Grand Junction area and the nearby San Juans seem more part of my Moab home than when I actually lived in Colorado.

Grand Junction is the regional capital near the edge of the Colorado Plateau, and the San Juans forms one of the borders of this cultural and geological zone.  One only has to look at maps to see how the landscape flows or read history books to see the interconnectivity of both pre-Columbian and pioneer settlements before rail links.

And, so, to leave our busy town experiencing an unprecedented amount of people,  we went higher and colder to the Grand Mesa in easy driving distance.  At nearly 500 sq miles in size, many geologists consider this flat top mountain the largest of its kind in the world. And it is a place I’ve wanted to see for well over a decade now.

We drove up Friday and found a dispersed camp very close to the trailhead for our backpacking route the following day. Quiet, cold, and a stunning night sky with no moon.

The following morning started with a day much different than the previous weekend. Water blessed, cold and crisp, and well-packed down tread. A hiker’s delight for those who want the simple joy of walking.

We stashed most of our gear at a junction and made a loop on the well-known Crags Crest recreation trail. A loop that goes by lakes and walks the volcanic crest of this ancient mountain.

Unlike the heavy water carries up technically difficult footing, I think Joan found more delight in this route.

For myself, I enjoyed a meadow walk that reminded me of Wigwam Meadows in my old haunt of the Lost Creek Wilderness near my old home.

I feel this route gave Joan and me a good sampler of this place long on my to-do list.  I know we’ll return, however. It is relatively close to our home. And the Nordic system beckons. Perhaps a trip this winter?


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Daniel Wright
Daniel Wright
3 years ago

I appreciate the time you take to share your trips and the inspiration you give me for my future trips. Thanks So Much