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U.S. Forest Service

Rocky Mountain Region Viewing Area


the Grand Mesa Visitor's Center demoonstration garden. The Center's demonstration garden provides an eye-catching display of wildflowers. Photo by Mary Mastin, Visitor's Center volunteer.

yarrow, beardtongue, wild rose, and asters. Yarrow, beardtongue, wild rose, and asters are among the many wildflowers at the Center. Photo by Mary Mastin, Visitor's Center volunteer.

Whipple's beardtongue. Whipple's beardtongue was named for the commander of the Pacific Railroad Survey. Though typically dark maroon to bluish, pale flowers can be found too. Photo by Mary Mastin, Visitor's Center volunteer.

Grand Mesa Visitor’s Center Wildflower Garden

Forest: Grand Mesa National Forest

District: Grand Junction Ranger District

Description: Grand Mesa Visitor’s Center in the Grand Mesa National Forest, at an elevation of 10,200 feet offers educational and informational services to the public. The Visitor’s Center is located at the intersection of Colorado Highway 65 and Forest Service Road 121, just across from Cobbett Lake; approximately 15 miles from Cedaredge, Colorado.

To familiarize visitors with the variety of wildflowers, shrubs and trees, the U.S. Forest Service began a demonstration garden at the site in 1999. The organizations assisting in conjunction with the Forest Service include: Colorado State University TriRiver Extension Service Master Gardener Program, Colorado Native Plant Society, Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway and the University of Colorado Center for Community Development.

The hardscape was constructed in the summer of 2000. The design includes a wide wheelchair-accessible path through the garden. The first major planting occurred in early summer of 2001. Additional plant materials have been added at the beginning of each growing season since that time.

The challenges of the short growing season , drought years , wildlife and cattle browsing and foot traffic in the planted areas have been daunting but a natural garden pleasing to the senses and instructive to the public is evolving at the site. As this garden flourishes, so will the visitor’s appreciation of the Grand Mesa.

Viewing Information: During the summer months, approximately 50 species of wildflowers can be observed in the garden and the immediate area surrounding the Visitor’s Center. A color brochure is available for plant identification. A power point slide show and a “Wildflower of the Week” display located in the Visitor’s Center provide additional information to the public.

Safety First: It is very important to remember that weather conditions can change rapidly. Be prepared for rain showers, lightning, and mid-afternoon thunderstorms. Since the Grand Mesa has approximately 360 lakes and reservoirs, make sure you have a supply of mosquito repellant. Long sleeves and pants would be a good idea. One of the multi-uses on the Grand Mesa is livestock grazing. Many times cattle are grazing along side the roads or the cowboys are moving the herds from one area to another. Just make sure you slow down when you see this activity.

Directions: Drive west from Denver towards Grand Junction on Interstate 70 to Exit 49. Turn left crossing over I-70 onto Highway 65 which is the Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway. You will travel 12 miles through Plateau Canyon heading south and will start the ascent up to the Grand Mesa after passing through the Town of Mesa. After passing through the Town of Mesa it is approximately 30 more miles to the Grand Mesa Visitor Center which is at the intersection of Highway 65 and Forest Service Road 121.

Coming east from Utah on Interstate 70, come to Exit 49 and follow the same directions as above after turning right onto Highway 65.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Grand Mesa National Forest, Grand Junction Ranger District, Grand Mesa Visitor Center (970) 856-4153.

Closest Town: Cedaredge, Colorado.