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Colorado > Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests > Ouray Ranger District
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Ouray Ranger District

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General Information

Description - The Ouray District includes portions of the Uncompahgre Plateau and the San Juan Mountains. The Uncompahgre Plateau rises to 10,000 feet and water draining from the top has cut gorges and canyons along the sides of the plateau. Two of these drainages, the Roubideau and Tabeguache, are managed as wilderness, with no mechanized use. The Roubideau is located on the Ouray District. The Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway follows the Dolores River Canyon on the west side of the Uncompahgre Plateau.

The San Juan Mountain Range has four peaks over 14,000 feet and another 100 peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation. It includes the Uncompahgre, Mount Sneffels, and Lizard Head Wilderness Areas. Portions of the Mount Sneffels and Uncompahgre Wildernesses are located on this district. The Owl Creek Pass Road is a scenic loop from Montrose on Highway 50 to the Cimarron Road to Silver Jack Reservoir, over Owl Creek Pass and west to Ridgway. This area gives access to trailheads and areas for dispersed camping. Ouray offers access to many four-wheel drive opportunities on primitive mining roads.

Recreation - Popular recreation activities on the Norwood Ranger District include hiking, hunting, fishing, developed and dispersed camping, four-wheel driving, sightseeing, picnicking, mountain biking, horseback riding, mountain climbing, backpacking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Climate - Summer high temperatures in the National Forest areas reach into the 70s and 80s, with warmer and drier weather in the lower elevations. Evenings are cool, with temperatures that can often dip into the 30s. Afternoon summer thunderstorms are common. Snow is possible at any time of year in the highest elevations. The high elevation roads and trails are often not clear of snow until at least mid-July. The relative humidity is quite low throughout the year.

Winter lows can dip well below zero, though daytime temperatures are normally in the 20s to 30s. Much of the precipitation comes in the winter, when heavy snow can be expected in most forest areas.

Location - The Ouray Ranger District is divided into two sections. It encompasses a portion of the Uncompahgre Plateau to the southwest of Montrose. The district also includes a portion of the northern San Juan Mountains around the town of Ouray.

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More Information

Contact Information:
Ouray Ranger District, 2505 South Townsend , Montrose, CO, 81401, Phone: 970-240-5300

Additional Information:
Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests - The Gunnison, Grand Mesa and Uncompahgre National Forests of west-central and southwestern Colorado are administratively combined. Some of the primary towns surrounded by the forests include Gunnison, Crested Butte, Montrose, Delta, Cedaredge, Hotchkiss, Paonia, Grand Junction, Ouray and Telluride.
Montrose Area - Montrose lies in the fertile Uncompahgre River Valley. This area was once used by Ute Indians for farming and hunting. Today it serves the many ranchers and recreationists that use the surrounding terrain.
Mt. Sneffels Wilderness - The Mt. Sneffels Wilderness encompasses 16,505 acres of material remaining from ancient volcanoes. It is located 4 miles northeast of Telluride, Colorado.
Ouray Area - This small town known as the 'Little Switzerland of America,' was named for the Southern Ute Chief, who tried to negotiate with the U.S. Government as it pushed his tribe on to a reservation.
Uncompahgre National Forest - The Uncompahgre National Forest lies in western and southwest Colorado, around the towns of Montrose, Ouray, Telluride and Norwood. The Gunnison, Grand Mesa and Uncompahgre National Forests are administratively combined.
Uncompahgre Wilderness - The Uncompahgre Wilderness encompasses more than 98,000 acres on the Uncompahgre National Forest. It lies south of Curecanti National Recreation Area, northwest of Lake City and northeast of Ouray.


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