Grand Mesa

Yesterday, Beth and I drove through the Grand Mesa National Forest. The forest is 541 square miles of beauty on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies.

sean and beth grand mesa

The day started with an intense rain storm in Castle Valley. It’s been particularly dry this year, so I’m always happy when we get a stray thunderstorm (as much as the lightning makes me [and the dogs/cats] nervous).

castle valley rain

The rain would follow us west, looking particular scenic as we drove along I70, and as it approached the mountains we wound our way up, putting on a pretty amazing lightning show.

I70 Rain

It rained for most of the drive.

Along the way, we passed many mountain lakes–usually lined with pines or spruce or aspen. According to the United States Department of Agriculture site, this forest has over 300 lakes.

After the Forest

After we left the forest, we turned of Highway 65 for 45 1/2 road, which carried us back to I70.

This part of the drive was surprising, as it reminded us of the remote, rocky landscape similar to where we lived, but with less towering mesas and buttes. Technically listed as being in DE Beque, CO, the road twisted through well worn rocks, with homes hidden by standalone boulders and twisted junipers.

It had just finished raining, and everything everywhere sparked with the sunlight.

de beque

Before the Forest

One thing I really like doing is finding and exploring (or at least, driving slowly through) small towns in the middle of nowhere.

Cedaredge is a charming small town of ~2000 people beneath the slopes that contain Grand Mesa National Forest (fun fact, Grand Mesa is the largest flat-top mountain in the world). It has several orchards and vineyards, and we enjoyed stopping at a very lovely fruit stand that had fresh-picked apples, plums, and peaches.

We stocked up and hit the road.

I talked to a nice woman that worked at the fruit stand and she told me to come back in a week or two for freshly picked Honeycrisp Apples.

I’m there. Since the plan won’t include an hours-long drive through the national forest, I’ll have time to explore Cedaredge a bit more.

With apples. Mmmm.