Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

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Uncompahgre National Forest

The Uncompahgre National Forest encompasses the northern San Juan Mountains, the Uncompahgre Plateau and three alpine wilderness areas, making it an expansive hub for outdoor recreation.

  • The Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado, covers nearly a million acres and three wilderness areas.
  • The climate is varied, with arid plateaus to the far-west and soaring peaks to the east.
  • The Million Dollar Highway connecting Ouray and Silverton is a jaw-dropping drive over sheer cliffs.

The Uncompahgre National Forest covers nearly one-million acres of land in southwest Colorado, and stretches from the arid plateaus of far-west Colorado to the 14,000-foot peaks of the San Juan Mountains. The varied climate, dramatic terrain and minimal crowds continue to attract outdoor enthusiasts, as the region has great camping, hiking, and backcountry terrain.

Location & Information

The Uncompahgre Forest is comprised of the Uncompahgre Plateau to the northwest of Ridgway and the northern San Juan Mountains around Telluride and Ouray. The forest is managed jointly with the Grand Mesa and Gunnison National Forests in Delta, but there are ranger district offices in Montrose and Norwood.

Activities

The sheer size of the area can make it difficult to explore, but there are several famous scenic drives that cut through some of the most breathtaking terrain.

  • The Million Dollar Highway, which connects Ouray to Silverton, runs along sheer cliffs dropping more than 1,000 vertical feet and passes through lengthy tunnels.
  • For the faint-hearted, a more approachable drive is the Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway. It follows the Dolores River Canyon on the west side of the Uncompahgre Plateau.

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