Land's End Road is a gravel road heading west from the main highway in the Grand Mesa Reservoirs area. The road follows the north rim of Deep Creek Canyon for maybe eight miles and arrives at Land's End Observatory about 4 miles later. The last 5 miles is paved. There is tree cover well back from the edge of the rim but almost none along the rim itself. Just below the rim there is extensive tree cover (at least where there's enough soil to support large vegetation.

About 5 miles in I came across the Raber Cow Camp, a restored cow camp probably built in the 1940's. In 1881, after the Northern Utes were forced onto a reservation in Utah, homesteaders rushed into the valleys surrounding Grand Mesa and established cattle ranches. In early summer, many ranchers herded their cattle up the hill to the top of Grand Mesa where there was excellent grass and kept the cows up here all summer. In those days, the cowpunchers built cabins (even in mid-summer the nights can be pretty cool at 10,000’ in elevation) and stayed up here. These days, the roads are much better and most cowboys just get back in the pick-up and drive home every night.

The Forest Service thought that most of these abandoned cow camps would become hazardous so they tore them down. Somehow the Raber Cow Camp was spared and was actually renovated in 1993 as an example of what life here was like in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the heydays of cow camp life on Grand Mesa.

Another couple of miles and I came to pavement again. There were some overlooks in here where I could look to the south across Deep Creek Canyon. Just beautiful country. Another mile or so and I could see where the western end of Deep Creek Canyon met and merged with the sand hills at the edge of western Colorado's canyon country.

The closer I got to Land's End Observatory, the less tree cover I could see on top of the mesa. There were lots of outcroppings of obviously volcanic rock and a few low spots in the ground that held rainwater. The views west and south got bigger and bigger. Then I came to an intersection where a road turned west and immediately dropped. This had to be the famous "Veteran's Road."

The Great Depression left many World War I veterans unemployed. To help them out, President Roosevelt opened the already created Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to include them. Between June 1933 and May 1934, 200 veterans came to Land’s End camp and built 9.2 miles of road. They were paid $1 per day for their work. The veterans were noted as “a remarkable group of men, skilled in almost every imaginable trade.” They lived in army tents about 11 miles below the mesa rim while they were clearing the brush for the road. The toughest part of the road, from the rim to the Wild Road Picnic Area, was completed over two summers by Civil Service machine operators and a few civilian workers hired by the Forest Service. When it was all done, the project engineer said, “Built the whole road, blasting and all, without a single injury.” That’s why Land’s End Road used to be called the Veteran’s Road.

Land's End Observatory wasn't even a hop, skip or a jump from that intersection. Land’s End Observatory was built in 1936-37 by the Forest Service and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). At the western end of Grand Mesa, the observatory sits at 10,500’ in elevation. Like most public buildings in the National Parks, Forests and Monuments of America, its rustic architecture is marked by craftsmanship and simplicity: it seems to grow out of the land without being an intrusion on it. The walls and terrace are built of basalt stones selected from the mesa and carefully fitted together. The wood shingles were handsawn. Inside the building is a lot of the original handcrafted woodwork. The building just happened to be closed the day I was there. So I wandered down to the actual "observatory" built out over the mesa rim and took photos looking in different directions. After maybe half-an-hour I decided there was too much haze for some photos I wanted to get so I got back in the car and headed back to the main highway.