Uncompahgre National Forest Plateau Division - Colorado
Uncompahgre National Forest is a U.S. National Forest covering 955,229 acres in (in descending order of land area) parts of Montrose, Mesa, San Miguel, Ouray, Gunnison, San Juan, and Delta Counties in western Colorado. (Only its headquarters is in Delta County, in the city of Delta.) It borders San Juan National Forest to the south.
Within the national forest boundaries can be found the arid Uncompahgre Plateau and the northern portion of the San Juan Mountains. The forest contains three alpine wilderness areas, Uncompahgre (formally the Big Blue), Mount Sneffels and Lizard Head.
The Uncompahgre National Forest is managed jointly with the Grand Mesa and Gunnison National Forests headquartered in Delta. There are local ranger district offices located in Montrose and Norwood.
The varied climate, sparse population, and abundance of sun make Uncompahgre National Forest popular with jeepers, atv'ers, sight seers, and hikers. Probably the most common recreational activity within the Forest boundaries is scenic driving, thanks in part to the Million Dollar Highway.
There are several dirt roads within the Uncompahgre; some are old mining roads left over from the 1800s gold rush, others are occasionally used by the Forest Service. Paved roads are of course more popular, including the San Juan Skyway, Alpine Loop, Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway, and Owl Creek Pass, which is gravel.