- The Uncompahgre leads through southwestern Colorado. It is rarely used due to the mining pollution that causes the water to be off colored. The heavy metal pollution has killed most of the aquatic life, but does not affect whitewater sports if you are willing to overlook the color of the water.
Recreation - The first worth while run on the Uncompahgre is through the town of Ouray. This run is a five mile Class IV with a few obstructions. The put-in is at the southwestern end of Ouray and the takeout is at the KOA campground. The Uncompahgre Gorges whitewater is not too difficult but the run is not easy. This run is characterized by lots of portaging and portaging out of gorges is not fun. This run is beautiful and intriguing if you are willing to do the work. The gorge is a two mile Class V+ run. The put-in is at Red Mountain Creek, and the takeout is at the dam/dump.
Climate - The Uncompahgre River is situated in high mountainous altitudes. Persons coming from lower elevations should be aware that time is needed to adjust to the higher elevations.
Warm days and cool to freezing nights can be expected in the mountains during the summer. July and August are usually the warmest months. During this time afternoon thunderstorms are common. Be prepared for both warm and chilly weather, as well as for rain showers.
Being at high elevation and fueled mainly by melting snow, the Taylor is a rather cold river. During the spring runoff the river is full of freshly melted snow, and the temperature of the water is especially cold. Please make sure that you dress appropriately when participating in whitewater sports. Wear shoes that can protect feet if you bounce off rocks or walk out of a canyon in the event of an accident. Wet suits are mandatory when air and water temperature added together total 100 degrees or less. If total is less than 80 degrees, a full set of waterproof or wool garments on top of the wet suit should be worn.
The Uncompahgre River collects its headwaters in the mountains that surround Ouray. Canyon Creek, Oak Creek, Portland Creek, Bear Creek and Falls Cascade Creek, join the waters of the Uncompahgre in Ouray to form the Uncompahgre River Valley. Mining activity in this mountainous region was so heavy that the waters of the Uncompahgre have been contaminated by heavy metals from the tailings.