Elk are widely distributed, but hunting pressure during the early seasons appears to be forcing animals from GMU 62 to GMU 61 which is a totally limited unit.
Bounded on N by County Highway 141; on E by US Forest Service road 402 (Divide Road) and Dave Wood Road; on S by County Highway 62; on W by San Miguel River and Dolores River.
Numerous roads provide easy access to the plateau, but many canyons are accessible only by foot and on horseback.
15% Private, 85% Public, 49% USFS, 36% BLM
This unit is managed as a quality elk unit and licenses are totally limited. The elk population is declining and licenses have been reduced for these units. Elk are widely distributed, but hunting pressure during the early seasons appears to be forcing animals from GMU 62, an over-the-counter unit, to GMU 61 which is a totally limited unit. Elk also move into the canyons and onto private property.
It's still recommended that hunters start at high elevation, especially in the early seasons. But those who venture into the tough canyon terrain could be reward. Be sure to stay on public lands in the canyon areas. Hunters should also move well away from roads.
Archery and muzzleloaders should concentrate on U.S. Forest Service lands along the top of the plateau.
Public land and private land percentages can sometime be misleading. A unit may have 80% public land, but a particluar species may only occupy 20% on the entire area. And that 20% species distribution may lie 100% within private lands. Does that sound confusing? Just remember that there are always exceptions to the rule, and land ownership is just one piece of the puzzle.
Elk Management Plan
The Uncompahgre Plateau is a broad structural uplift within the Colorado Plateau physiographic province. The
Uncompahgre Plateau consists of a relatively flat 9,000 Ò 9,800 foot summit that runs northwest from Ridgway to
the Unaweep Canyon. The summit drops off quickly on the Unit 61 side and more gradually slopes downward on
the Unit 62 side. Both sides of the Uncompahgre Plateau are incised by deep canyons separated by relatively flat
mesas that typically run perpendicular to the main summit ridge and end at the San Miguel, Dolores, Gunnison or
The elevation in this area ranges from 4,570 feet along the Dolores River near Gateway to
10,338 feet at the summit of Horsefly Peak near the southeast end of the Plateau. At elevations below approximately 6,500 ft near the Dolores, San Miguel, Uncompahgre and Gunnison Rivers, a
high desert plant community is the predominant, extant vegetation type. Important plant species of this community
include four-wing saltbush, shadscale saltbush, black sagebrush, winterfat, broom snakeweed, rabbitbrush,
greasewood, and, in the Gateway area, black brush. Elevations between approximately 6,000-7,500 ft, are
characterized by piñon pine and Utah juniper woodlands and grassland/shrub (e.g., basin big sagebrush, black
sagebrush, Wyoming/mountain big sagebrush, mountain mahogony, Indian ricegrass).
The piñon-juniper type
covers approximately 40% of this area and is the predominant plant community. From approximately 7,500 to
8,500 ft, ponderosa pine/mountain shrub (e.g., Gambel oak, serviceberry, mountain mahogany, mountain big
sagebrush, silver sagebrush, snowberry, manzanita) is the dominant vegetation type. Elevations above 8,500 ft are
generally characterized by aspen forests and a mixed spruce-fir complex (aspen, Douglas fir, sub-alpine fir and
Engleman spruce). Common plant species found in lowland riparian areas on the Uncompahgre Plateau include
narrowleaf cottonwood, coyote willow, chokecherry, tamarisk, and boxelder.
In higher elevation riparian areas
characteristic species include thinleaf alder, birches, willows, and blue spruce. Agricultural areas and cultivated croplands within the area occur primarily in the Uncompahgre Valley between
Montrose and Delta.and in the other major river valleys surrounding the Plateau
Weather can vary by elevation. See how weather varies by elevation within a unit by selecting an elevation range. Elevation ranges are based on weather stations in or near the unit. Not all weather elements are available within the unit.
Use temperature ranges to plan and prepare for your hunt. Large swings indicate a good layering system should be used.
Be sure to make note of the extreme temperatures as these often pose the greatest risk to hunters.
If you plan on hunting in higher elevation, as a rule of thumb, expect the tempture to decrease roughly 5° for every 1000' in elevation gain.
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The highest success rate for bull hunters occurs during first season, but expect hunting pressure there. Animals usually move to lower elevation private lands as hunting pressure increases.
The elk population is holding steady and herds are at objective levels. You'll find them distributed widely throughout the eastern portion of the unit. Elk will move quickly into thick aspen, evergreens and rugged terrain with hunting pressure.
The elk population is healthy, but success is dependent on the weather in Utah. Harvest success is better in the later seasons and away from roads, with animals being found near Carpenter Ridge, Buckeye Reservoir, and John Brown Canyon.