About the Forest

4 people with backpacks on walking up a river valleryThe Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests is comprised of three individual national forests that are administered as a single unit from the Forest Supervisor’s Office in Delta, CO. However, this was not always the case. The Grand Mesa and Uncompahgre were joined in 1954, and the Gunnison was added in 1973. The earliest segment of the Forests, dubbed the Battlement Mesa Forest Reserve, was established in 1892. Today, the three forests total almost 3 million acres and are managed by 5 Ranger Districts. 

Approximately 2.27 million visitors experience recreation activities on the forests annually based on the 2014 "National Visitor Use Monitoring Survey" including downhill skiing, snowmobiling, hunting, hiking, cross-country skiing, fishing, backcountry camping, mountain biking and off-highway vehicle use. Nine counties are encompassed by the GMUG including Mesa, Delta, Montrose, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Ouray, San Miguel, Saguache and Garfield.

We invite you to visit our forest and enjoy the beauty, history and challenges it has to offer. 


photo of the guard station in 1920 with four people standing on porchThe Grand Mesa National Forest was created by President Benjamin Harrison on December 24, 1892. It was originally called the Battlement Mesa Forest Reserve and was the third such reserve to be created in the nation. President Theodore Roosevelt created the Gunnison National Forest, originally called the Cochetopa Forest Reserve, on June 13, 1905 and the Uncompahgre Forest Reserve on June 14, 1905.

The early years of the Forest Service were characterized by public animosity and misunderstanding of the purpose of the National Forest system. Those who made a living or a profit from lumbering, mining or grazing livestock on land which became National Forest confronted new rangers with anger, suspicion and accusations. They resented the active role the government was taking in the protection of forest lands, especially those who had enjoyed unfettered use of land and timber for many years. Learn more about history of these national forest lands.

Special Places 

snowcapped mts and golder aspensThe Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest includes: Special Heritage Places, designated Wilderness areas, Research Natural Areas, Special Interest Areas, Roadless Areas and five peaks over 14,000 feet (fourteeners). Learn more about special places at the GMUG