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About the Refuge

Ouray fall scene 512x2219

Ouray National Wildlife Refuge lies along the Green River in the Uinta Basin of northeastern Utah.  The Refuge provides diverse habitat types supporting over 350 fish and wildlife species and offers numerous wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities. 

Ouray National Wildlife Refuge was established as a sanctuary for migratory birds on May 25, 1960.  Located on the Colorado Plateau within the upper Colorado River drainage area, the Refuge stretches along 16 miles of the Green River, 120 river miles downstream of Flaming Gorge Dam.  The Refuge is a place that offers great variety, as well as a touch of mystery. Its habitats include lush bottomland areas along the Green River; high elevation upland benches containing grasslands interspersed with low shrubs; barren, highly eroded, clay bluffs on the slopes of upland benches; and alkali flats between the upland terraces and floodplains. The Green River provides a ribbon of life through a desert environment that receives only 7 inches of precipitation a year. Temperatures may range from a low of -35 degrees in winter to over 100 degrees in summer. Long stretches of dry weather may be broken by monsoon rains or substantial snowfall. The quiet stillness of winter is contrasted by the spring chorus of migrating birds and resident frogs. Amidst surrounding development, the Refuge provides an island of calm and an opportunity to experience the wonders of nature. 


The Green River and the riparian woodlands that occur along its banks provide vital water, food, and shelter for many wildlife species that otherwise could not survive in the harsh surrounding environment. Whether you’re seeking a chance to view numerous wildlife and plant species, an opportunity to hunt and fish, spectacular scenery for photography, or simply a place for a quiet walk through the woods, Ouray National Wildlife Refuge offers all this and more.

Page Photo Credits — Ouray NWR fall scene: USFWS photo
Last Updated: Mar 28, 2014
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