Scenic Routes and Rest Areas

30 Aug
Grand Mesa 1

You can see for miles from Grand Mesa.

We are fortunate in Colorado to enjoy the most beautiful scenery in the world. No matter how much you travel throughout the state, there are still surprises left to discover. This was the case this past weekend. On a jaunt to the West Slope, we were running early and decided to take a side trip to Grand Mesa. Although we had been there many years ago, we had approached from the south. Lured by a “scenic byways” sign, we drove in from the north on roads we had never before traveled. After traversing stark rocky canyons which made our jaws drop, we crept upward onto the high flat mesas that allowed us to view vast panoramic miles of valleys which surrounded us. The terrain at well over 10,000 foot altitude reminded me a little of Swan Lake Flats and the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone. I don’t often compare scenery to Yellowstone terrain. In this case, I made an exception. The only thing lacking was wildlife, which I attributed to the mid-day hour. My eyes strained through the dark scrubby trees and underbrush for wildlife — any wildlife! Marmots, who should have greeted us from among the tumble of crumbled basaltic rock columns, were absent. A moose crossing sign gave us hope, but no critters other than hawks and insects appeared to bring life to the landscape. The mesa left us wanting more and pondering a return trip.

Grand Mesa 2

Taking the Other Road through Grand Mesa

At the beginning of summer, I usually vow to take better care of my yard, and to get out to see more hidden corners of my chosen home state. Although I’ve done a little of both, summer has a way of slipping away before all expectations are met. As usual, I reach out to a book for perspective.  The book, a gift from my publishers at Filter Press, is “Colorado Scenic Byways: Taking the Other Road” by Jim Steinberg and Susan Tweit. Winner of the 2008 Colorado Book Award, Steinberg’s outstanding photography, and Tweit’s enlightened insights and connection to nature bring it all home. Not only does this gorgeous publication introduce the reader to roads never before experienced, but it also chronicles those routes already traveled. I feel a sense of satisfaction and some pride when I recall the scenic byways I have driven and enjoyed since arriving in 1974. I am also proud to know Susan Tweit through Women Writing the West, and I willingly turn myself over to her guidance through and connection to this wonderful mountainous place. This book is a must for all Colorado road trip junkies and their coffee tables. Visit Susan’s web site at:

Eagle Rest Area

This pit stop includes a history lesson.

Now, about that rest area. On I-70 west of Vail, Colorado, we often stop in Edwards for a comfort stop and to stretch our legs. This trip, we stopped at the rest area in Eagle instead. I had forgotten about the charming little history museum there. Kids of all ages can enter a real Denver & Rio Grande caboose as well as historic log cabins for a little diversion before scrambling back into the confines of the family auto. This little museum, complete with a visitor’s center, is a delightful surprise and a real treasure for interstate travelers who wish to take a break.

Joyce B. Lohse, 8/30/10


Posted by on August 30, 2010 in Western history, Western Travel


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6 responses to “Scenic Routes and Rest Areas

  1. Kathleen Ernst

    August 31, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Like you, I love finding gems wherever they appear! What beautiful terrain you have your your way…

    • joyce4books

      August 31, 2010 at 3:20 pm

      I am continually amazed and honored to live in Colorado. Of course, there is beauty to be found wherever you look for it, and it’s certainly not too shabby beyond the Cheddar Curtain!!

  2. Mary E. Trimble

    August 31, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    What wonderful descriptions of Colorado, Joyce. I’ve only visited your state for WWW conferences. Your article makes me want to spend more time, make it a vacation destination.

    • joyce4books

      August 31, 2010 at 3:25 pm

      There’s nothing like the real thing, but also, you might try to track down Susan Tweit’s book, perhaps through library loan. It will bring the best of Colorado to you.

  3. Susan J. Tweit

    August 31, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Joyce, Thanks for including me and Colorado Scenic Byways in this lovely post about the joys of wandering Colorado. Your photos of Grand Mesa remind me that the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway is one of the most spectacular in the state in fall, when the aspen turn gold. Of course, it’s also gorgeous in spring (which on the top of 10,000 foot elevation Grand Mesa is late May or early June!) and with its deep mantle of white snow in winter (when the road is closed, but you can still cross Colorado’s highest mesa on cross-country skis or snowmobile. May you find your way back to see it in other seasons–and early in the morning or late in the evening when you’ll see moose, marmots, and more…

    • joyce4books

      September 2, 2010 at 8:55 am

      Thank you, Susan. My not-so-scientific brain is benefiting greatly from the instructive text in your gorgeous book. I am slowly making the connection between the geological structures and those which are similar to Yellowstone, thus the feeling of familiarity, or deja vu, up on the mesa. I was also surprised to learn that moose were introduced, or reintroduced, by the Colorado Dept. of Wildlife. It certainly looks like moose-friendly terrain among the willows and marshes. My next visit there will definitely be a twilight tour!


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