What’s In A Name?
October 11, 2020
This river’s name is the kind that separates the locals from the tourists.
The Uncompahgre River is a tributary of the Gunnison River, approximately 75 mi long, in southwestern Colorado in the United States. Lake Como at 12,215 ft in northern San Juan County, in the Uncompahgre National Forest in the northwestern San Juan Mountains is the headwaters of the river. It flows northwest past Ouray, Ridgway, Montrose, and Olathe and joins the Gunnison at Confluence Park in Delta.
The river forms Poughkeepsie Gulch and the Uncompahgre Gorge. The major tributaries are all creeks draining the northwest San Juan Mountains.
There are two dams on the Uncompahgre River, a small diversion dam in the Uncompahgre Gorge, and Ridgway Dam below the town of Ridgway which forms Ridgway Reservoir.
The river is used for irrigation in the Uncompahgre Valley. Additionally, water from the Gunnison is diverted to the valley via the Gunnison Tunnel. The Uncompahgre is unnavigable except at high water.
The name Uncompahgre (/ʌnkʌmˈpɑːɡreɪ/) comes from the Ute word Uncompaghre, which loosely translates to "dirty water," "red lake," or "red water spring" and is likely a reference to the many hot springs in the vicinity of Ouray.