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Colorado > Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests > Paonia Ranger District
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General Information

Description - Large portions of the Raggeds and West Elk Wildernesses lie within the Paonia Ranger District. The West Elk Loop Scenic Byway circles the West Elk Wilderness, with a spur from Paonia to Carbondale. In the summer months, the Kebler Pass Road, a 31-mile gravel road, passes between the West Elk and Raggeds Wildernesses, offering extraordinary views. Paonia Reservoir and State Recreation Area are located adjacent to the forest, northeast of Somersett.

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

Climate - Summer high temperatures in much of the forest areas reach into the 70s and low 80s. Evenings are cool, with temperatures that can often dip into the 30s in the high country. 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 below zero though daytime temperatures are normally in the 20s to 30s. Weather in the valley bottoms, around Paonia and Hotchkiss, is normally much more mild than other mountain areas in the state. Much of the precipitation comes in the winter, when heavy snow can be expected in the high elevations.

Location - The Paonia Ranger District encompasses the northwest portion of the Gunnison National Forest. It is located around the towns of Hotchkiss, Paonia and Crawford. It includes much of the North Fork of the Gunnison River drainage and the West Elk Mountains.

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More Information

Contact Information:
Paonia Ranger District, P.O. Box 1030 , Paonia, CO, 81428, Phone: 970-527-4131

Additional Information:
Delta Area - Delta is located at the junction of Highways 50 and 92. The Gunnison River runs through town leading east toward Gunnison and northwest toward Grand Junction.
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.
Gunnison National Forest - The Gunnison National Forest encompasses part of Colorado's central mountains, around the towns of Gunnison and Crested Butte. The Gunnison, Grand Mesa and Uncompahgre National Forests are administratively combined.
Raggeds Wilderness - The Raggeds Wilderness Area is located between Crested Butte and Paonia on Colorado's western slope.
West Elk Wilderness - The West Elk Wilderness is a government designated natural area located between Gunnison, Paonia and Crested Butte, Colorado.


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