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editor's note:
Orchard Mesa Skatepark

* Outdoor: 'Crete
* Free
* Trannie / Street
* Rating: Pee Wee League

When you think of the Grand Junction skatepark, you'll most likely think of the big ass "key-hole" bowl. These days, Grand Junction has [at least] one more park worth considering - even if it is a runty little bastard [compared to CO standards].

Most CO parks - with the exception of the irritating McParks in the Denver area - are awesome. From the limited but well-designed efforts like Salida, to the Rocky Mountain monsters like Crested Butte, to the new Downtown park in Denver, this state is a top contender for best skatepark spot in the world. Believe that!

That's why Orchard Mesa is a little disappointing. All the parks listed above were built by skate-design crews [with real live EXPERIENCED skaters involved in the design]. OM looks more like a "landscape architecture" kind of skatepark, designed by some guy in a tie that not only doesn't skate, but usually makes his cash designing flowerbeds for office buildings, etc. I'm just guessing, but a few stupid things about the design make me think this is true. Like the lack of coping in obvious places. The lines that dead-end into sets of stairs. The "skate track" that looks like it was built for runaway bobsleds. The rail w/ the 3 ft kink at the bottom. And most of all, the lack of balls and creativity that the real Colorado bangers all share.

Now, having properly dissed this place, I have a few positive comments to pass along. There are a lot of little hits all over the park. That's cool. As for the second thing I like about this park - and the best thing about the design by far - the little kickers are surprising cool. They're less than 2 ft high, but they launch you out and over a down-slope section and the sensation is smooth and boosty. Those are great features and beat the hell out of your typical launch/kicker to flat! Despite the boring SoCAL similarities, this park is kinda fun.

For more parks in the area, check out Durango, perfection at Montrose, and little dinky rides at Ouray and Delta along that route. To the north and east, hit the gnarly Key Hole park here in Grand Junction, and then the miniramp in Palisade on your way to Aspen and the Rockies' beasts in the east!

Directions: Orchard Mesa is located off the 50, south of highway 70 and most of Grand Junction itself. From the 70, get off the highway at one the Grand Junction exits and head south into town. Make your way south, and try to get onto 5th street heading south. 5th will turn into highway 50, still heading south. A little past Pitkin Ave, you'll make a left [east] off of 50 onto Unaweep Ave. The skatepark is behind [north of...] a school which is located at 2736 Unaweep.

...scroll down for pics




[ click pix to enlarge ]




^ In this 180-degree view of
Grand Junction's Orchard
Mesa skatepark - the ledge on the left
and the stairs on the right actually
point towards each other. This
view is a little misleading...




^ Boardslide to backbreakers on
this nutty rail...




^ These kickers are
way more fun than they
look. Sam Willis off
the 8 in. booster...





^ A little ollie off the bigger launch ramp
[see the upperleft corner of this shot]
gives you a nice arc over the flat and
down into trannie for a super-smooth
landing with lots of speed. Compare this
kicker to the "flat landings" off the launch
ramps
at Bullhead City in AZ. Much better
design... flow = fun!!!





^ This "skate track" [if that's
really what they were trying to
build] is a good idea gone wrong.
Most "tracks" are more like snakeruns,
running downhill so they can retain
their speed. In this flat, overly
wide, poorly designed version, you're
pushing the whole time just to hit the
same wall over and over [no coping, either].
The sections are too long, with nothing
to "bounce off of." Maybe it was built
for bikes? Concrete burms? I don't know...



[ click pix to enlarge ]



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