The southern portions of this large plateau (see Divide Road for the northern portions) are more varied than the northern part. The highest parts contain excellent spruce-fir woodland, with Gray Jay, Golden-crowned Kinglet, American Three-toed Woodpecker, and more possible. Purple Martin can be seen in areas with aspen groves near large meadows. Further down are mixed conifer forest, ponderosa woodland, and then pinyon-juniper woodland. Grace’s Warbler can be found in areas with extensive Ponderosa, as can Williamson’s Sapsucker. In pinyon-juniper woodland, look for Juniper Titmouse, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Pinyon Jay, and Gray Flycatcher. A full day between Unaweep Canyon and Nucla could produce quite an impressive list of species! In the mammal department, check for black bear, Abert’s squirrel, and a host of smaller species.
Habitat: Spruce-Fir Forest, Mixed Conifer Forest, Ponderosa Forest, Aspen Grove, Scrub Oak Forest, Lowland Riparian, Pinyon/Juniper Forest, Sagebrush, Grassland/Prairie
Directions: From Nucla take CR 25 (also known as Mesa Road or the Nucla-Delta road) northeast out of town and stay on this road to Columbine Pass. Twenty Five Mesa Road as it is called locally will become FR 503 at the Uncompahgre National Forest boundary. From Montrose take CO 90 west out of town. At the forest boundary the road becomes FR 540. Go three miles to a forked intersection. For a route back to Nucla, - stay left on FR 540 - also known as Old Highway 90. the right fork, FR 402, will connect with FR 503 near Columbine Pass. Be sure to note that there are lots of ways to get up on the plateau. FR 402 in mostly flat and runs the full length of the mountain. Study a map before planning a trip. It is possible to access the plateau from Grand Junction, Delta, and Norwood.
Delorme: 65 A4-B7
Roads of Colorado: 97 E4-F4, 98 A4, 113 E1-F1, 114 A1
Dates of Access: Upper portions could be closed during the winter
Ownership: US Forest Service/BLM
Restrictions: Upper portions could be closed during the winter
Parking: Gravel parking area/roadside
Lodging: Fee and primitive camping
Handicapped Access: None