Sewump Mesa is one of the ecologically pristine areas in western Colorado,
having been isolated from development by its almost impassable belt of encircling
sandstone cliffs. A striking band of thousand-foot-high cliffs of Wingate Sandstone
encircles more than 75% of Sewemup Mesa. Many huge ponderosa pines line the canyons
of the mesa top and grow directly from sandstone terraces along the mesa’s western cliffs.
The cliffs provide nesting sites for the endangered peregrine falcon, as well as for golden
eaggles. Bald eagles winter along the Dolores River at the area’s edge. Mountain lions rule
the mesa, and the lower slopes are important big game winter range for deer and elk.
The legend of Sewemup Mesa began in the late 1800’s as a real true cattle-
ranching operation. A local rancher “rustler” would drive stolen cattle, from both Utah
and Colorado up into the well concealed “pockets” of the mesa. There he would rope
them, tie them down and with a sharp knife, cut out the piece of the hide containing the
brand. He would then sew them back up with bailing wire and rawhide. After the
woulds healed, the cows would be branded with the rustler’s own brand. Then they
would be put back on the range with other cattle and no one was any wiser.