Western Colorado

Uncompahgre Trail

Difficult To Translate, Easy to Understand

Everyone agrees that “Uncompahgre” is a Ute word, but few can agree on what it means. Some say it means “hot springs”; others say it means “red lake” or “the place where water makes the rocks red.” By the same token, people are unlikely to agree about what adjectives best describe the Uncompahgre Plateau, but everyone is likely to agree that it is an amazingly beautiful place. There are hot springs here and cold ones; there are rocks of many colors. There are rivers slicing through sheer canyons, with Black Phoebes hawking insects over the water. There are vast expanses of arid woodland where you might find an Ash-throated Flycatcher or a Virginia’s Warbler building a nest. In a couple of canyons lie hidden oases where lush vegetation harbors rare butterflies such as the Nokomis Fritillary. And on top of the soaring plateau are cool mountain forests, where sapsuckers excavate holes in aspens that Flammulated Owls might inhabit next season. It may be difficult to translate, but the special spirit of this place is easy for anyone to understand without words.