1996 ~ Mesa County, Colorado
Cameo . Collbran . De Beque Cutoff . Gateway . Mesa . Molina . Orchard Mesa . Plateau City . Plateau Creek . Whitewater
What I loved best about Western Colorado was the amazing diversity of beautiful scenery you could find in a fairly concentrated area. It never ceased to be compelling and remarkable. I've listed the locations alphabetically.
April and June, 1996. Near the small town of Cameo where the Colorado River came down from the high plateaus and entered the Grand Junction area. I-70 ran alonside the river. There was a roller dam (photo 4) and towering sedimentary bluffs. The river is muddy from spring snow-melt, and the weather is still too cold for foliage, but the brush is turning a russet color in preparation for leaves.
These Collbran photos were taken June 16, 1996, by Marco Herranz. The rainbow arch is the American Servicewomen's Memorial. I especially like the landscape colors in the last photo.
Formations Along the De Beque Cutoff Road
April 9, 1996. Junipers and wind-eroded sedimentary rock along the roadside and in a dry creekbed on 45.50 Road, aka the De Beque Cutoff Road near Highway 65. These works of erosion are remarkable.
April 22, 1996, photos by Marco Herranz. There is also a Gateway, Colorado, near Denver with a population of about 4,500 in 1990. The Gateway in Mesa County is near Highway 141 near the Utah border. It had about 300 people in 1990. The vertical red cliffs are composed of Wingate sandstone, deposited by wind during the Triassic period. This layer was generally about 350 feet deep, later exposed by erosion. In the fourth photo, to can get an idea of the size of this massive landform, note the cows in the lower right-hand corner of the photo!
April 9, 1996. We loved the plateau around the town of Mesa and dreamed of getting a small farmhouse here. In the first photo you can see the "Beehive" landnmark. The high ranching country north of the town of Mesa had a special feel and was gorgeous. If you kept going up Highway 65, you would end up on Grand Mesa, a gigantic pine-covered plateau over 11,000 feet in elevation. Capped with a 10-million-year-old basalt rock lava flow, it is said to be the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. There are about 300 lakes on the mesa, many of them extremely deep due to being water-filled volcanic cracks in the earth.
On June 16, 1996, we set out to document Molina for our web site. Marco Herranz took the photos. There was the hill at the end of the Upper Molina Access Road. Then there was A scenic view of Cottonwood Creek. In the distance, looking north, Castle Peak could be seen from the Upper Molina Access Road. You can get a closer look at these mountains from the De Beque Cutoff Road. The next shot is looking at Grand Mesa. In the middleground, high ranch country and hay fields. The cow pastures are scenic where the bottomland narrows along Plateau Creek. The next to last photo shows cows grazing south-west of Highway 330, and finally, sagebrush and smooth stones along the side of the highway. Although directly across the road from each other, this scene contrasts sharply with the bottomland pastures.
June 22, 1996. Photos by Marco Herranz and Sheryl Todd. Orchard Mesa includes a hill along with Grand Junction's large Orchard Mesa Cemetery. First photo: Orchard Mesa, Grand Junction, and the Book Cliffs as seen from the grave site of George Crawford, a founder of Grand Junction. The photo was taken facing approximately northeast. The largest bump - about three-fourths of the distance from the righthand side of the picture - is Mt. Garfield. The one further to the right is Mt. Lincoln, which rises above Palisade. This whole area is known as the Grand Valley. The second photo was taken looking southwest from Crawford's hilltop grave toward the Gunnison River. The third photo is of an early cemetary plot seen from Crawford's grave. The tombstones within the stone enclosures belong to the families of Allen (left), McClintock, and Kent (right). The curved road (26 1/4 Road) brings you up to the hilltop and Crawford's grave. By the way, the odd names for roads around here often make newcomers and tourists either amused or frustrated. It's pretty simple though, this road is 26 1/4 miles from the Utah border. The green trees and grassy area are part of the Orchard Mesa Cemetery. High on the hill, Crawford's grave can be seen from the access road. Crawford's empty grave is somewhat of a mystery. Next comes a photo of the damaged and weathered headstone set in red brick. Interesting old stones enclose an early cemetery plot on the hillside near Crawford's grave. As opposed to the stark setting on the hill, tall, old trees provide shade on a hot day in the regular part of Orchard Mesa Cemetery. Finally, looking back at the old cemetery with Crawford at the top of the hill.
June 16, 1996. I love the colors and the green pastures in these high desert mountains. The small town with the optimistic name of "City" is out in the country on on Highway 330. The white building is the historic Plateau Valley Nursing Home & Medical Clinic. Beneath the eaves are the words, "Faith Hospital, Est. 1923." An attractive, cottage-like building in a peaceful landscape. Geology rears its head and becomes visible almost everywhere, giving hints about how the Earth was formed and sparking curiosity. This is a beautiful place to have a ranch.
April 9, 1996. The day we went out with the camera, it was still a cool day in April. Vegetation hadn't begun to turn green yet - or was just beginning to along the creek itself. The water ran muddy with snow-melt. I was Just getting back into photography after a long lapse, and I wasn't prepared for the glare off of the water at this elevation. I came away with no actual photos of the creek except for two pictures of our dogs scoping out the water. Pterelas, in front, in the last photo, was braver, while Leila seems to be considering whether she is more Labrador or more chow. I loved the contrasting scenery along Plateau Creek. Honeycombed rocks carved from Cretaceous Mesaverde Group sandstone can be seen jutting out of the earth on the left in the first photo, while creekside brush looks feathery in its spring russet colors before foliage emerges. In photo two, the honeycombed rocks reach for the sky along Highway 65 between Cameo and the junction of Highway 330. Grand Mesa can be seen in the background under snow.As the road climbs toward the intersection of Highways 65 and 330, juniper becomes more prominent on the hillsides. Grand Mesa can be seen under snow in the distance.
April 21, 1996. Whitewater appears to be an intersection in the highway and not much else. There must be more that I missed, because there is a post office and they have whitewater rafting. Keep going and you are heading for Delta and Gunnison. Turn right, and you are on the breathtaking highway to Gateway. The first photo shows Grand Mesa, looking east from Highway 141 near the unincorporated town of Whitewater. Grand Mesa retains snowpack well into late spring or early summer. Looking west in the second photo is the Uncompahgre Plateau rising from the desert. Brush and trees show the colors of early spring.