- The Uncompahgre Wilderness encompasses more than 102,000 acres on the Uncompahgre National Forest. Elevations within the wilderness range from 8,400 to over 14,000 feet. Over 100 miles of constructed trails are available for both foot and horse travel through this sometimes rugged terrain.
The Uncompahgre Wilderness contains two fourteeners: Uncompahgre Peak (14,309') and Wetterhorn Peak (14, 015'). The region has been named 'The Switzerland of America' due to its high elevation and impressive skyline. In addition to the two fourteeners mentioned above the region boasts several peaks over 13,000 feet including: Wildhorse Peak, Matterhorn Peak, Coxcomb Peak, Precipice Peak, Broken Hill Peak and Silver Peak. Most of the valleys between these mountains are large, U-shaped basins cut by glaciers.
Cow Creek Canyon lies in the western section of the wilderness and has been described as 'one of the wildest canyons in all of the San Juan Mountains." No trails delve into this area, but hikers on Wildhorse Peak can get a full view of the chasm.
It's possible to view many types of animals on your ventures in the Uncompahgre Wilderness. Wildlife you may see in the region includes elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, black bear, bobcat, mountain lion, coyote, snowshoe hare, golden eagle and other smaller species.
Recreation - Recreation opportunities in the Uncompahgre Wilderness include hiking, backpacking, fishing and horseback riding during the summer months. Winter recreation opportunities include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and backcountry skiing. Mechanized and motorized vehicles and apparatus are not permitted within the wilderness boundaries.
Climate - Weather for the area can vary greatly; but generally, you can expect a cool mountain climate with scattered rain showers throughout the summer months. Normally, the Uncompahgre Wilderness area is snow free from July to September, but conditions depend on the elevation and amount of snowfall each winter. Lower elevations from around 7,000 to 8,500 feet may become snow free by early June, but some creek and river water levels tend to be high. The annual precipitation varies from 25 inches to 40 inches.
The Uncompahgre Wilderness Area is bordered on the east by Highway 149, which leads south from Curecanti National Recreation Area to Lake City. On the western side Highway 550 borders the wilderness area and leads into Ouray. BLM Road 3300 leads west from Lake City along the southern side of the wilderness area. Many access routes to the wilderness lie along this road. It also connects to Forrest Road 878, which leads to Ouray. Be aware that BLM Road 3300 and Forest Road 878 are not maintained during the Winter, and require high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicles for use in Spring, Summer and Fall.