Friday, November 4, 2016

Uncompahgre Plateau, Gunnison Gorge and Delta, CO (10/12 & 10/13/2016)

In the several trips I've made onto the Uncompahgre Plateau, it was surprising to me how much fall color was there, mainly in the form of cottonwood trees.  These large trees require a great deal of water, so are usually seen growing along the banks of a stream.  You see lots of dead cottonwoods where something caused the stream to dry up or be re-directed.  As long as water is available, the cottonwoods struggle to overcome other difficulties, such as boulders nearby.  These obstacles often result in malformed trunks, but the tree continues to live.

Farms and ranches have been developed around the edges of the plateau and they also have numerous cottonwoods.

On top of the plateau, it's not hard to find views down into the many canyons there. One, named Dry Creek, has been designated as a National Recreation Area, with roads for ATV usage.  That normally indicates there are places too narrow for a Jeep, so I didn't take this one.
On another day, I took a drive through the Gunnison Gorge Recreation Area, a section of adobe hills set aside primarily for ATVs, dirt bikes and the like.  The tracks made by these vehicles give a clue as to the daredevils who drive them.

Even here in a place that looks totally uninhabitable, there are ranches and cottonwood trees.  All it takes is water, which in this case arrives via an irrigation ditch that carries water diverted from one of the local rivers.

On the other end of the Gunnison Gorge is the town of Delta, started in 1828 with the Fort Uncompahgre trading post.  The town is still very small, with a current population around 9000.  The Gunnison River runs through it, in fact merging with the Uncompahgre River.  The town has built a park there to allow visitors to see the confluence of the two rivers, as well as tour the old fort.  Docents at the fort wear period costumes and demonstrate the skills needed to survive in the early days, such as beaver trapping, tanning hides, making arrowheads and forging iron tools.  I'll have to go back another time and get photos of the fort.


  1. Love the cottonwoods and aspen . . . but no match to oaks and maples . .

    1. Yeah, CO could use some maples. Thanks, Judy.