- The Grand Mesa National Forest encompasses the Grand Mesa, which is one of the world's largest flattop mountains and has an average elevation of 10,000 feet. It is dotted with over 300 alpine lakes and reservoirs.
The Uncompahgre National Forest includes the Uncompahgre Plateau, portions of the San Juan Mountains and three wilderness areas. The Uncompahgre Plateau rises to 10,000 feet and water draining from the top has cut gorges and canyons along the sides of the plateau. The San Juan Mountain Range, within the region, contains four peaks over 14,000 feet and another 100 peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation. It includes the Uncompahgre, Mount Sneffels and Lizard Head Wilderness Areas. Telluride Ski Area offers downhill skiing opportunities.
The Gunnison National Forest encompasses part of Colorado's central Rockies and includes two peaks over 14,000 feet, as well as 20 peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation. The La Garita, Collegiate Peaks, Fossil Ridge, Maroon Bells-Snowmass, Raggeds and West Elk Wildernesses are popular backcountry areas. Crested Butte Ski area provides downhill skiing and snowboarding opportunities.
Recreation - Popular recreation activities in this large and diverse area include downhill and cross-country skiing, developed and dispersed camping, four-wheel driving, sightseeing, hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, snowmobiling, picnicking, mountain biking, horseback riding, mountain climbing and backpacking.
Climate - Elevations in this area range from around 5,000 feet to over 14,000 feet, creating large climate variations. Summer high temperatures in much of the forest areas reach into the 70s and low 80s while temperatures commonly reach into the 90s around the towns of Delta and Montrose. 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 occasionally dip to minus 35 degrees, though daytime temperatures are often in the 20s to 30s. Much of the precipitation comes in the winter, when heavy snow can be expected in most forest areas.
The combined forests include much of west-central Colorado. It begins in the east at Monarch Pass on the Continental Divide and continues west to the Utah border. The region extends south from the Grand Mesa to the San Juan Mountains. Some of the primary towns surrounded by the forests include Gunnison, Crested Butte, Montrose, Delta, Cedaredge, Hotchkiss, Paonia, Ouray and Telluride.