I’ve lived in Colorado for 22 years, and had never heard of Grand Mesa before. After our recent adventure, it will now be one of our favorite places to visit! I think we could stay here well over a month, exploring the trails, lakes, and meadows looking for wildlife and fly fishing. We arrived just in time to see the sunset while driving up to Cobbett lake.
I’ve been told that they stock the lakes nearest to the Visitors Center, which was great for us. We caught so many fish it was unbelievable. If you fly fish, bring your tube boat so you can fish without snagging in a tree. Wooly bugger, ants, and blue dragonflies were a hit most of the time. We had so much fun using dry flies during the morning and evenings.
Cobbett Lake CG is a basic campground. We searched for water, as stated on the reservation website, but could not locate any except for spigots in the camp hosts sites (you can not fill up your camper here). The mosquitos at Grand Mesa are thick, so bring a lot of DEET (not the nice organic repellents, they will not work). The sites seem rather small at Cobbett Lake CG, pay attention to the sizes stated on the reservation site. You can also watch the video that we posted for a feel of the campground. Throughout the grounds, the sites seem to be situated oddly— most of the time your camper door will not face your picnic table (you will have to walk around the camper).
The best part about Cobbett Lake CG would be all the trails that surround the campground. You can hike all around and have adventures all day:
- Arch Slough: This trail in the back of the campground and is a perfect way to begin, or end your day. The trail is next to a quiet lake, surrounded by meadows that are full of wildflowers.
- Visitor Center: Begins behind site #8, easy trail is about 5 minutes to the Visitor Center, where you can get wifi, make a call, or ask for advice planning your day from the helpful staff
- Cobbett to Ward: Begins behind site #8
- Craig Crest National Recreation Trail: I hiked this trail to Forest Lake to do some fly fishing. You can find the trailhead on the campground road, near Hwy. 65 (Not on Hwy. 65 like the TOPO map shows). This is an easy/moderate trail with a bit of elevation gain. The views of the meadow and lakes are wonderful.
We ventured to Lands End Road, and enjoyed the 12 miles of wildflowers and great views alongside the edge of the Mesa. At the end of the road you will find the Lands End Observatory with overlooks of the Mesa area and Grand Junction. We made it just in time for the sunset.
We drove this loop (see map), and stopped at all the lakes along the way. I caught my first Greenback Cutthroat Trout— it was quite a thrill for me 🙂 The wildflowers were so beautiful along this rout. We were really lucky to visit Grand Mesa at the perfect time.
There are 10 campgrounds in the Grand Mesa National Forest, along with boondocking on the Forest Roads. We visited a few campgrounds while it rained, took notes, and wrote down our opinions.
- Ward Lake Campground, has two loops: the first loop is shaded and the second loop is more open and nearer to the lake. I thought this campground was nice. Watch the video that we posted.
- Island Lake Campground looks newer, with well established sites that are built up with rocks. It looked very clean, and it was not muddy, even with all the rain that we have been having. This campground would be good if you have a larger camper. Look for the sites that overlook Island Lake. The vistas where very nice. But, you are above and further from the lake. The campground is more open for solar.
- Little Bear sits lower, and closer to Island Lake. The sites are smaller, until you get to the back sites that are next to the lake. A bit more open for solar. Watch the video that we posted, right after a hail storm.
- Spruce Grove, aka: Mosquitoville. I personally would not stay here. However, we did see a Western Tanager while we were checking it out. Not open for solar, very dark and damp. Watch the video that we posted.
- Jumbo Campground, looks newer and is set up for ADA. Everything is paved and some sites have gravel. This campground is in the Mesa Lakes Recreational Area, and there are a lot of sidewalks for those with disabilities. We noticed a lot a fly fishing happening in these lakes, which makes us happy! The sites are more open for solar. Watch the video that we posted.
Natasha took some night sky photographs of the Milky Way over our campsite.
We set up the trail camera behind the airstream and captured some late night visitors. No bears our mountain lions yet!
Note: We found a dump station in Mesa, at Last Chance gas station/RV park/convenience store for $8.
We have so many beautiful pictures of the area. Here are some extras 🙂
When: Summer 2015
Altitude: 10,300 ft
Reservation: Cobbett Lake Campground
Site: Level-ish, no water for filling tanks, non-electric, no dump station