Uncompahgre Peak, the sixth highest peak in Colorado and highest in the San Juan Range, is a majestic mountain with gentle grassy slopes on its eastern, southern, and western flanks and an abrupt 700-foot cliff on its North Face. Although Ute Indians undoubtedly climbed the peak and archeological evidence of their presence has been found, the first recorded ascent of the 14,321-foot mountain was by A.D. Wilson and Franklin Rhoda of the Hayden Survey in 1874. They found evidence of grizzly bears on the summit. Today Uncompahgre is climbed from Nellie Creek Road west of Lake City on a generally steep but easy trail. The peak’s name comes from the Ute language—“Uncompahgre” roughly translates to “dirty water spring.”
Recommended season(s): May through October.
—Stewart M. Green