In this study a stochastic approach to calibration of an orographic precipitation model (Rhea, 1978) was applied in the Gunnison River Basin of south-western Colorado. The stochastic approach to model calibration was used to determine: (1) the model parameter uncertainty and sensitivity; (2) the grid-cell resolution to run the model (10 or 5 km grids); (3) the model grid rotation increment; and (4) the basin subdivision by elevation band for parameter definition. Results from the stochastic calibration are location and data dependent. Uncertainty, sensitivity and range in the final parameter sets were found to vary by grid-cell resolution and elevation. Ten km grids were found to be a more robust model configuration than 5 km grids. Grid rotation increment, tested using only 10 km grids, indicated increments of less than 10 degrees to be superior. Basin subdivision into two elevation bands was found to produce 'optimal' results for both 10 and 5 km grids. ?? 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.