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Joanna R Little

Broker Associate, Broker Assoc., CRS, GRI
Phone: (970) 683-2503
Fax: (970) 244-9403
Contact via Email
Grand Junction Location

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The Natural Beauty Surrounding Grand Junction

If you would like more information about Grand Junction please Contact Me. If you are interested in buying or selling your home visit my Buyers Page or Sellers Page.

Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway

Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway, also known at the Grand Mesa National Scenic and Historic Byway, runs North from Cedaredge along Highway 65, to the top of the Grand Mesa at more than 10,000 feet. It also includes Land's End Road to the Land's End Observatory from Highway 65. The byway sneaks past Island Lake, one of more than 300 trout-filled lakes in Grand Mesa National Forest. On the north side of the Mesa are the towns of Mesa, and Collbran. The byway continues along De Beque Canyon, with its colorful sandstone bluffs, and eventually meets Interstate 70 in the town of De Beque.

Scenic Overlooks include:

  • Cedaredge overlook - an easy access overlook
  • Land O Lakes overlook - a 1/4 mile moderate walk by foot
  • Island Lake - an easy access overlook with restrooms and accessible boat ramp
  • Grand Mesa Visitor Center - easy to moderate access with restrooms
  • Mesa Lakes Lodge area - an easy to moderate access with restrooms
  • Jumbo Lakes area - an easy access overlook with restrooms
  • Skyway Point - an easy access
  • Powderhorn - an easy access overlook with restrooms
  • I-70 pullout and interpretation information

Cedaredge Welcome Center has maps, books and other information about the area. Annual events include Heritage Day and Color Sunday Week.

Grand Mesa

The Grand Mesa is a large mesa in western Colorado in the United States. It has an area of about 500 square miles and stretches for about 40 miles east of Grand Junction between the Colorado River and the Gunnison River, its tributary to the south. The north side of the mesa is drained largely by Plateau Creek, a smaller tributary of the Colorado. The west side is drained largely by Kannah Creek, which is received to the west by the lower Gunnison River. The mesa rises about 5,000 feet above the surrounding river valleys, including the Grand Valley to the west, reaching an elevation of about 11,000 feet , with a maximum elevation of 11,333 feet  at Crater Peak. Much of the mesa is within Grand Mesa National Forest. Over 300 lakes, including many reservoirs created and used for drinking and irrigation water, are scattered along the top of the formation. The Grand Mesa is flat in some areas, but quite rugged in others.

Geography

The mesa is traversed by the Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway (which includes SH 65) between the town of Mesa on the north and the town of Cedaredge on the south. The route over the mesa provides a dramatic contrast in landscape, climate and vegetation. On the north side, the road climbs the steep terrain near the Powderhorn Resort ski area. The forested top of the mesa remains snowbound much later in the spring than the surrounding valleys, and is a popular location for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Grand Mesa National Forest

The Grand Mesa National Forest is a U.S. National Forest in Mesa, Delta and Garfield Counties in Western Colorado. It borders the White River National Forest to the north and the Gunnison National Forest to the east. The forest covers most of Grand Mesa and the south part of Battlement Mesa. It has a total area of 346,555 acres. It is managed by the United States Forest Service together with Gunnison National Forest and Uncompahgre National Forest from offices in Delta, Colorado. There are local ranger district offices located in Grand Junction. Originally called Battlement Mesa Forest Reserve, created by Benjamin Harrison on December 24, 1892, it was the third forest reserve created in United States. It is the largest flatop mountain in the world.

De Beque Canyon

De Beque Canyon is a narrow canyon on the Colorado River in western Colorado in the United States. It is approximately 15 miles long, located on the river downstream from the town of De Beque, in eastern Mesa County. The canyon forms a narrow passage where the river passes along the western end of the Grand Mesa. At its lower end, the canyon opens out on the eastern end of the Grand Valley at the town of Palisade, approximately 10 miles (16 km) east of Grand Junction. Interstate 70 follows the river through the canyon.

Geologically the canyon walls are stairstep cliffs of Mesaverde Group, shoreline sands deposited during the Cretaceous. The sedimentary rock layers contain several low-sulfur coal seams that thicken to as much as 50 feet (15 m) at the Cameo Mine near Mile 46 on Interstate 70. The coal is typically soft bituminous coal, since it has never been compressed by overlying rocks to the degree that would be required to form harder coal.

Grand Valley Colorado

The Grand Valley is an extended populated valley, approximately 30 miles (48 km) long and 5 miles (8 km) wide, located along the Colorado River in Mesa County in western Colorado and Grand County, Utah in the United States. The valley contains the city of Grand Junction, as well as other smaller communities such as Fruita, and Palisade. The valley is noted as a major fruit growing region, with a large number of orchards. It takes its name from the "Grand River", the historical name of the Colorado River upstream from its confluence with the Green River that was used by locals in the late 19th and early 20th century. The valley is the most densely populated area on the Colorado Western Slope, with Grand Junction serving as somewhat of an unofficial capital of the region, as a counterpoint to Denver on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains in the Colorado Front Range. Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 6 run through the valley from west-to-east. The Grand Valley is part of the larger Colorado Plateau desert lands.

Description and History

The valley is located where the Colorado widens at the mouth of De Beque Canyon, then follows a wide arc bending to the west/southwest. The Colorado receives the Gunnison River, one of its major tributaries, just south of Grand Junction near the midpoint of the valley. The valley is surrounded by large plateau formations, including the Bookcliffs along the north side and the Grand Mesa along the southeast side. Colorado National Monument sits on a ridge on the southwest side of the valley west of Grand Junction. Much of the surrounding table land areas rimming the valley are public lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.

The valley was an area historically occupied by the Ute people. White settlers began to arrive in the 1880s, farming the valley for a variety of grains and fruits. In the 1890s, it was discovered that sugar beets grown in the valley had a high sugar content, leading to widespread cultivation of that crop. At the turn of the 20th century, evaporation techniques allowed fruit growers to ship their products more efficiently to distant markets, yielding an expansion of fruit growing in the valley. In 1918, the Highline Project was completed to provide water to cultivate 50,000 acres (20.0 km²) in the valley. The project included a roller dam in De Beque Canyon, the largest of three such dams of this type in the nation.

According to local legend, the valley was cursed by the native Utes upon their forced exodus to federal reservation grounds in Utah. The legend states, among other things, that no person born in the valley may leave permanently unless a small amount of sand is collected from the Grand Mesa, Bookcliffs, Colorado National Monument, and/or the junction of the Gunnison and Colorado rivers. The sand is supposed to alleviate the curse's effects of a supernatural and metaphysical attraction by the valley's soil to the native individual. Of course, this is a myth and cannot be confirmed. However, many exiting locals, native and non-native alike, prefer not to take their chances with the alleged curse and keep the sand long after emigrating from the valley.

Colorado River

The Colorado River is the principal river of the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico. The 1,450-mile river flows from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California, draining 246,000 square miles in parts of seven U.S. and two Mexican states. Known for its dramatic canyons and whitewater rapids, the Colorado is a vital source of water for agricultural and urban areas as well as an important provider of hydroelectric power in the southwestern desert lands of North America.

The river basin has been inhabited by humans for at least eight thousand years. Due to the area's dry climate, they practiced farming and irrigation much more prolifically than other native peoples of the continent. Before the first Europeans arrived in the 1500s, many of these indigenous societies had collapsed due to either drought or poor agricultural practices. Through the next few centuries, the watershed became part of New Spain and early Mexico before the American acquisition of the region in 1848. The Colorado remained one of the last uncharted major rivers in the U.S. until the famed 1869 Powell Expedition, whose members were the first to run the river through the Grand Canyon. American settlers did not establish a large permanent presence in the watershed until the 19th and early 20th centuries.

As the Southwest's only significant source of water, the Colorado was heavily developed in the twentieth century through a system of dams, reservoirs and canals. These works irrigate some of the most productive agricultural regions in North America and supply almost 40 million people both inside and outside the watershed, whose shares are carefully managed according to a series of treaties collectively known as the "Law of the River". However, declines in runoff and heavy water use have caused over-allocation of the Colorado, a river already considered among the most regulated in the world. Overdraft of the Colorado River could lead to severe shortages by the mid–21st century, greatly endangering power generation and water supply.

     
Heavily forested banks of the Colorado River near Topock, Arizona
 
Lake Powell, with a capacity of more than 24 million acre feet, is the second largest reservoir on the Colorado
  The river in western Colorado, with the California Zephyr running alongside  
Remnants of basalt flows from the Uinkaret volcanic field are seen here descending into the Grand Canyon, where they dammed the Colorado over 10 times in the past two million years.
 
 

Wildlife and plants

The Colorado River and its tributaries often nourish extensive corridors of riparian growth as they flow through the arid desert regions of the watershed. Although riparian zones represent a relatively small area and water resources development has caused environmental degradation in many places, they have the greatest biodiversity of any habitat in the basin. The most prominent riparian zones along the river occur along the lower Colorado below Davis Dam especially in the Colorado River Delta, which supports 358 species of birds despite the reduction in flow and invasive plants such as tamarisk (salt cedar). Reduction of the delta's size has also threatened animals such as jaguars and the vaquita porpoise. However, human development of the Colorado River has also helped to create new riparian zones by smoothing out the river's seasonal flow rhythms, notably through the Grand Canyon.

More than 1,600 species of plants grow in the Colorado River watershed, ranging from the creosote bush, saguaro cactus, and Joshua trees of the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts to the forests of the Rocky Mountains and other uplands, comprised mainly of ponderosa pine, subalpine fir, Douglas-fir and Engelmann spruce. Before logging in the 19th century, forests were abundant in high elevations as far south as the Mexico–U.S. border, and runoff from these areas nourished abundant grassland communities in river valleys. Some arid regions of the watershed, such as the upper Green River valley in Wyoming, Canyonlands National Park in Utah and the San Pedro River valley in Arizona and Sonora, supported extensive reaches of grassland roamed by large mammals such as buffalo and antelope as late as the 1860s. Near Tucson, Arizona, "where now there is only powder-dry desert, the grass once reached as high as the head of a man on horseback".

Rivers and streams in the Colorado basin were once home to 49 species of native fish, of which 42 are endemic. Engineering projects and river regulation have led to the extinction of four species and severe declines in the populations of 40 species. Bonytail chub, razorback sucker, Colorado pikeminnow, and humpback chub are among those considered the most at risk; all are unique to the Colorado River system and well adapted to the river's natural silty conditions and flow variations. Clear, cold water released by dams has significantly changed characteristics of habitat for these and other Colorado River basin fishes. Additionally, about 40 fish species – notably brown trout – were introduced throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, mainly for sport fishing purposes.

     
Marble Canyon, one of the many gorges that Powell's expeditions traversed   Pueblos and cliff dwellings such as this one in New Mexico were inhabited by people of the Colorado River basin in the early centuries A.D.   The Colorado was named for the reddish color caused by its natural sediment loads, but damming the river has caused it to acquire a clear green hue such as here in lower Glen Canyon.   A rafting party on the Colorado River
 
Information and image courtesy of Wikipedia