The Uncompahgre River and its Tributaries

The name of the Uncompahgre River comes from the Ute word that means red water, muddy water or a water that is slow moving. The Utes lived along the river since early times because of the water, plants and wildlife.

Flowing from the headwaters in the San Juan Mountains, the river is the artery of a large watershed and one reason many people choose to live here in Ouray County. Whether enjoying recreation on and around the river and the Ridgway Reservoir or using the valuable natural resource for irrigating agricultural fields, we rely on the watershed to support our lifestyles.

The Uncompahgre River drains 1,115 square miles of the Gunnison Basin in southwestern Colorado.  This drainage area includes parts of Delta, Montrose, Ouray, Gunnison, Hinsdale, San Juan and San Miguel Counties in southwest Colorado.  

The elevation ranges from 14,158 feet at the peak of Mt. Sneffels to 4,915 feet at the mouth in Delta.  The Uncompahgre River originates in Lake Como at 12,215 feet in the Uncompahgre National Forest.  It flows approximately 75 miles northwest past the City of Ouray, Town of Ridgway, City of Montrose, and Town of Olathe and joins the Gunnison River at Confluence Park in the City of Delta.

Download and print the basics about The Uncompahgre Watershed in Ouray County

Download the facts and figures about the watershed in the UWP Brochure.

Major tributaries to the Uncompahgre River in Ouray County:

Canyon Creek, Cow Creek, Dallas Creek, Red Mountain Creek, Corbett Creek, Portland Creek, Dexter Creek, Bear Creek, Oak Creek, Cascade Creek, Cutler Creek

Learn about the lower Uncompahgre River watershed:

Many other organizations also keep track of and share information about the Uncompahgre River and surrounding watershed, and you can find those descriptions and details at the websites below:

Colorado River Outfitters Association

Colorado Fishing Network


American Whitewater Association

You can also find data about water flows at the following links:

Plus, find information about walking along the river below:

Uncompahgre River Walking Loop from Ouray

Uncompahgre River Trail Plants from Ridgway (Thank you Peggy Lyon and the Northern San Juans BroadBand) 

Uncompahgre Riverway Trail