Uncompahgre Plateau Wildflower Bonanza


Flowers as far as the eye can see! These are Mule's Ears.

Loretta and I took the Blazer up Montrose County Road 90 to the area where it intersects Divide Road, up high on the Uncompahgre Plateau. That meant I could take along my Pentax K100D. I shot raw and had fun in Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 when we got home. So many wildflowers! Here are eleven pictures. You can tell quickly that the DSLR provides far better quality pictures than the point and shoot. But it’s way too big to take on the motorcycle. Enjoy the pictures, and please help me identify them! Update: I have a new wildflower guide: see here.


Here's a new flower this season, very purple. Update: the wildflower book says these are Two-Lobe Larkspur, a member of the Buttercup family.


What's the high country without Columbines? These delicate flowers are the state flower of Colorado.


The Mule's Ears and the another type of purple flower compete for attention.


Here's a lovely gathering of purple flowers. As near as I could tell, these are different from the previous purple. Update: the wildflower book disagrees with me—these definitely fit the description for Two-Lobe Larkspur.

orange flower

I've seen these before at lower altitudes. That doesn't make them any less dramatic. Update: the wildflower book calls these Giant Red Paintbrush (not orange—the orange have a different structure), a member of the Snapdragon family.


I first saw these flowers yesterday along Sanborn Park Road. This collection is a better example. Update: these are Fairy Trumpet, a member of the Phlox family.


Here are clumps of white flowers I've seen in other places. Very pretty in context under some trees at the edge of an alpine meadow. Update: these appear to be Alpine Yarrow, a member of the Aster family. Note the leaf structure.


I think I've seen these too, but this is the best picture of them I've captured. Update: I can't find anything quite like it in the wildflower book. Five petals, protruding stamen, and long protruding leaves that grow in pairs opposite each other on the stem.


I first saw these wild roses yesterday along Sanborn Park Road. The camera I had yesterday, my Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5, a point-and-shoot, didn't do them justice. The Pentax does.


These appear to be little yellow snapdragons. Pretty little things. Update: the closest I can come with the wildflower book is Yellow Monkeyflower, a member of the snapdragon family. But the match isn't exact.

This entry was posted in Montrose County, Wildflowers. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Uncompahgre Plateau Wildflower Bonanza

  1. dave says:

    David, thanks for your pointer to identifying the wildflowers. Regarding driving from Montrose to Moab via the Uncompahgre Plateau, you will need a 4×4. You can drive any car from Montrose west on route 90 (starts Colorado Highway 90, then turns into Montrose County Road 90) up to where it meets Divide Road, which is the general area where I took the wildflower pictures. From there, you can take any car down Divide Road (to the south, not north!) to where it meets Dave Wood Road or Sanborn Park Road. The latter puts you on Colorado Highway 145, and you will turn right (west) toward Norwood. From there it is paved. Go through Norwood and continue on to Naturita. Just past Naturita, take Colorado Highway 90 to the west. This takes you into Utah. Then turn right (north) on US Highway 191 into Moab. Note that all of the cool drives around Moab are 4×4. I DO NOT recommend the dirt road from Divide Road down to Norwood–that’s a 4×4 road. Also, Divide Road to the north is a 4×4 road. There are roads from Divide Road to the west, however I have not used any of them and hear that they’re pretty rough going, even in a 4×4. ALSO NOTE: If you want to visit the Uncompahgre Plateau and then get to Moab, you’re talking about a very long day. Start early, like 6:00 a.m. U.S. Mountain Time. Also, it can be chilly at altitude. I hope you enjoy your visit to Colorado!

  2. David says:

    I live in Wales and am coming over to Colorado next week. Studying the maps, I fancy taking the road over the plateau to get from Montrose to Moab as it looks more interesting than via Grand Junction. What is the road like? How much of it is dirt? We won’t have a 4×4 therefore I’m wondering if this is a good idea or not.

    If these photos were taken in the UK, I’d say the third one up from the bottom is a Stitchwort – look under Stellaria. The wonderful blue flowers look like Delphinium barbeyi – see http://www.swcoloradowildflowers.com/Blue%20Purple%20Enlarged%20Photo%20Pages/delphinium%20barbeyi.htm The red flowers (5th one up) could be a Phlox eg Aliciella subnuda

  3. mini mildred says:

    Dave, Love to help you out with a name for the blue flower, but my Rockie Mt. flower book is packed up ready for the move. Loved the many pictures tho. Thanks, MSC

Comments are closed.