The 1.5 million-acre Uncompahgre Plateau, located just west of Montrose, is a vast expanse for outdoor enthusiasts looking for room to breathe. The word “Uncompahgre” is a Ute Indian word with many connotations describing water – “dirty water” or “rocks that make water red.”
A gradual incline from Montrose takes visitors to the plateau’s summit ridge at an elevation of just under 10,000 feet. Along the way, the landscape transitions from sage, pinyons and junipers to aspen groves, ponderosa pines and mixed conifer forests at higher elevations.
The plateau’s relatively flat mesas are interrupted by numerous canyons and gulches. The larger canyons, such as Big Red, Tabeguache, Spring Creek, Roubideau, Escalante, Big Dominquez, and Unaweep add to the unique beauty of the plateau and provide an ideal setting for a host of activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and bouldering.
There are three campgrounds within the plateau’s National Forest Area with plenty of areas for dispersed camping. An extensive system of trails and roads for motorized vehicles offer numerous opportunities to explore ‘hidden’ places on the plateau.
Explore the accompanying list of online resources to learn more, or stop by the Montrose Public Lands Center, located at 2505 S. Townsend Ave. for additional information and maps.