Land’s End Road
We'd done the mesa-top portion of Land's End Road the day before, so we ran part of it on August 13th as well as August 14th in its entirety. Our goal was to do the switchbacks, too, but they were closed for a car race. That meant we were back and hoping the race was over and the switchbacks were open. Note that some of the photos are from the day before.
We did Land's End Road from the far end after visiting the overlook. There were a lot of people, and it was a bit jarring coming out of the woods and being faced with so many rude tourists. But we still enjoyed the scenery. The views from the old and closed visitor center were very impressive, and the interpretive signs were handy. On the way back we made all of the side trips on top of the mesa.
We were hoping to see more of the car race, so we pulled off at a pull-out that promised to be a short trail to the edge. It was actually fun and rough, though very short as it was gated not too far in. We parked there and hiked up to the top of the short hill, but discovered that the edge was still a bit of a walk. We still had some great scenery, though, so it was worth the little side trip.
We also stopped at the Raber Cow Camp, and almost all of us walked through it. It looked like when they moved and restored the old houses in 1998 they had a nice walking trail set up with great interpretive signs. After almost 20 years, some of the signs were too faded to read. They were all cracked and old. Still, we understood enough of it to know what we were looking at. One of the cabins was open, though it didn't seem like it should have been. Julie noticed that neither of the cabins had fireplaces, so we weren't sure how they cooked or stayed warm. It was a mystery. The walking trails were also very overgrown, but it was nice to get out and walk around.
We nearly had the road to ourselves as we cruised to the end. We didn't make any stops, and we skipped the overlook. It didn't take us long at all to get to the descent, and we found it open.
There is a waterfall created by Kannah Creek that is right at the top, but there weren't many good places to photograph it. We ended up with a forest service truck behind us that rushed us down the mountain a bit, but the conditions were dry and nice and it never felt dangerously fast. The switchbacks might be scary for people not used to them, but they were easy and mellow compared to most 4x4 trail switchbacks. Still, a screw up would probably be deadly from the topmost ones.
We saw signs for the Wild Rose Picnic Ground but kept going. We also skipped a trip to the Steamboat Rock Campground and that spur off of the main trail. We'd visit them next time.
We did stop at the Land's End Road Switchback View, and the forest service truck raced by us. The views were nice, but we had seen some amazing views from much higher on the mesa so we were mostly just enjoying the last late afternoon of our trip. We were also much lower in elevation, and the warmth was nice.
We cruised down the mesa until we found a wide spot where we pulled over and aired up. Then we headed into Grand Junction for dinner and the chance to swap stories. We headed back up to campgrounds and campsites, burning the rest of our firewood in a lovely and warm camp bonfire. The last night often seems to involve a bonfire. The next morning, we all headed for home. It was a fantastic and long overdue trip, and we had a blast!