A weekend on Uncompahgre Plateau

Living in our desert town, we sometimes have to drive two hours away to the regional hub of Grand Junction, CO.   This “big city” contains services we do not have in Moab. And that included the Toyota dealership for maintenance more accessible and more quickly done at the dealership than the local mechanics who sometimes can’t fit us in or don’t have the parts needed. Such life in a busy tourist town!

But it did give us a chance to get some routine maintenance done on our truck and see an area we quite like – The Uncompahgre Plateau. 

This vast, beautiful, and remote area does not feel quite like a high desert, not quite like mountains. It’s a unique area and a place we enjoy for spring or late fall excursions.

Sunset view from our dispersed site

The area’s topography, and trails, directly connect to the very canyons we backpacked recently, and this plateau ends not long before the La Sal mountains close to where I type. I enjoy the interconnectedness of this land and how the plateau itself seems to bridge these distinct areas.

We found a quiet camp overlooking the canyon and only a few miles away from where our footsteps brought us a few weeks ago.

We hiked some quiet dirt bike trails in the cool and crisp morning with no signs of recent use.

Deer and elk rile season. Wear some blaze orange!

The day proved pleasant in the word’s best sense, which means moderate hiking, no “scary stuff” to Joan’s relief, and easy-to-follow trails.

After about ten miles or so of hiking, we made it back to camp and enjoyed the quiet evening.

From our tent in the morning, a glorious sunrise started the day.

From our campsite, we followed a semi-marked social trail not far from the dirt road, which in turn leads to a path the descends into the canyon and then onward to where we spent some time recently.

We saw further proof that the trails, canyons, and ridge got used long before we walked this way.

The scarred trees have a fascinating history in this area, and the trail we followed directly leads to the Ute petroglyphs seen on our last excursion to this area.

We made our way into the canyon bottom via the trail and talked about future hikes in the area. A tricky crossing on some icy logs over the beaver bog on a frosty morning proved the only tricky part of the trail.

Unfortunately, Joan’s knee started acting up, and we had to turn around. But we did get to enjoy some buttes as viewed from the canyon bottom.

And though the hike did not go quite as planned, I know we’ll be back this way again.

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