A single Gray Oak / Quercus grisea in a natural area at about 6,200' elevation in NE Abq, protected from typical development practices:
If you'd rather skip the detailed information, more pretty pictures are found further down.
Gray Oak is a broadleaf evergreen tree, and its stature is medium (20-35' height x spread) to small (12-20'), depending on moisture availability and soil type. It grows at a moderate, 18"-24" / year rate, but if over-watered too frequently, it usually dies. It is strong-wooded and deep-rooted. Like many oaks, it often hybridizes with nearby oaks; near me, that is Q. turbinella and even Q. arizonica; higher in elevation it is Q. gambelii. Soils in it's range are mostly alkaline and rarely neutral. It is native to foothill edges of the Chihuahuan Desert region and adjacent lowlands, and grows in desert grassland, savanna, chaparral, and rocky uplands, especially along arroyos and where boulders trap stormwater runoff. (not much dew to condense, so...) I would rate Gray Oak as hardy in Sunset Zone 3 and USDA Cold Hardiness Zone 6. It is moderate to low water-use, once established.
It is not found in colder areas, from Santa Fe and Los Alamos northward, including Rocky Mountain foothills and Great Plains edges.
Having travelled in remote areas of SE Colorado and NE New Mexico, I've not seen anything resembling Gray Oak N of the canyons near Roy and Mosquero, but rather, Q. undulata is common with even a few Q. mohriana. But I am open to seeing good documentation to the contrary.
Regardless, I believe Gray Oak is definitely worth a try in such places as Boise, Santa Fe or Los Alamos, and even more extreme climates like Denver, to add a new dimension to their tree palette. The reason for my optimism is based on countless observations and climatic research. Of course, it is deserving of trials and actual use in landscapes between 3500-6500' elevations in the southwest.
I recall it thriving at a southwestern planting near the Ballard Locks in Seattle, which like parts of California, is probably more easy on the plant than it's own native habitat. On the Pacific slopes of California and southern Oregon, stick to your native species, to avoid potential habitat issues. But where native live oaks don't exist naturally in mild climates such as "Cascadia", I say, "go for it!"
It is uncommon in nurseries in my region, since most still only grow higher water-use species, continuing to unprofessionally perpetuate an inappropriate tree palette. They also squander a money-making opportunity to supply awesome-looking, more xeric trees such as this, that meet landscape codes existing since as long ago as 1995. Bright, eh?
But a couple of growers do carry limited quantities of this species, though of smaller planted sizes than are often required:
I found some at Trees That Please in Valencia County.
To compensate for small size, I called out a 36" box / 12' tree on the landscape plan, knowing an alternate method may be needed. On this hot, humid August day, we selected (3) - 8' tall x 2' wide x 1-1/2" caliper and (1) - 5' tall x 18" wide x 1" caliper trees, placing them in the same large hole. Instant, almost 36" boxed Gray Oak! This is similar to the clumping or multi-trunk habits of many in the wild.
This is a key area, as viewed from people going to the owner's home, as well as on-axis leaving their house:
And some views in early November, after the installation was completed.
A natural Gray Oak grouping in the arroyo bordering the west and north side of my property, fed by a spring N of the freeway:
And some typical foliage in mid-winter, photographed today:
Juvenile foliage often has prickles on the leaf margins, but older foliage loses that and is smooth with a pointed tip, and small (under 1-1/2" in length). Of course, broadleaf evergreen trees can be deciduous, when the tree is recently planted and unestablished (I find it takes at least 2 or 3 years to establish a smaller tree, more if larger). Or the winter is unusually cold, such as the last few.
Just some ideas of the winter foliage. Nice!
And the bark of a typical, mature tree:
I hope you find that all the positive attributes of Gray Oak outweigh the few perceived negatives, which all plants have.
I posted on the nearby foothills plant community where Gray Oak is found; it is of Madrean origins, not Rocky Mountain - here.