Cycling Grand Mesa North - a top US bike climb in the Rocky Mountains.
Ride 21.4 miles gaining 6,110’ to 10,830’ at 5% average grade.
Cycling Grand Mesa North
The Grand Mesa North bike climb is a remote climb that is the furthest west of the nine Top 100 U.S. climbs in Colorado and is located in the Grand Mesa National Forest. Its claim to fame is that Grand Mesa is the largest flat-topped mountain in the world . The pass can be reached from both the north and south, the south being the most scenic approach.
Both the Grand Mesa North and South bicycle rides are Grand Mesa National Forest, 346,555 acres established 1892.
As can be seen from our video of the climb, the first 7 miles are spectacular thanks to the distant mesas that are in view for much of the first two-thirds of the climb, although the surrounding scenery is fairly modest with plenty of pasture surrounding us during the initial climb.
Location: The Grand Mesa North bike climb begins on one side of the Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway at the intersection of Hwy 65 and 45 1/2 Road (yes, that is its name - 39.1907, -108.141163 latitude/longitude) 30 miles east of Grand Junction and 257 miles west of Denver International Airport. It's out there!
Start of climb
Chalk Mountain (photo center) to the west as we climb.
We have some extremely scenic, interesting and entertaining views after passing briefly through Mesa and beginning our ascent in earnest.
Entertaining . . .
. . . interesting . . . and . . .
. . . Scenic . . .
. . . and then some!
Chalk Mountain just past Water Dog Reservoir
#5 of many climbs on our 2015 Colorado climb trip.
Roadway and Traffic Report for both the northern and southern approaches to the pass: The roadway is very good and while there is moderate and briskly moving traffic along the first third of the route, the traffic thins as you ascend and was never really a concern for us.
Cycling Grand Mesa South
Start of Grand Mesa South
Enter Grand Mesa National Forest at mile 12
On the other side the pass is Grand Mesa South, which is no slouch at 19 miles/4,600'/4.8% average grade (#52 Top U.S. 100). The first 13.8 miles of the climb are at 6.5% average grade while miles 13.8-21.4 are 3.5%.
At the top of the climb, you can take a dirt road to the right to the Land’s End Observatory -
“Land's End Observatory is a ranger observatory on the rim of Grand Mesa in Colorado. It is accessible from the Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway via Land's End Road, which is about half paved and half gravel. . . . The observatory was built by the United States Forest Service and the Works Progress Administration in 1936-37, with some assistance from two Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) side camps. A large viewing area outside the building provides a panoramic view of western Colorado and eastern Utah. As of 2014, the observatory building itself is closed and boarded up. . . .”