Montrose Colorado – Where history and the outdoors converge
Montrose, known primarily as the region’s transportation center, with direct flights to all major US cities during the ski season, should not be overlooked as a destination. With over 260 days of sunshine a year, along with mild summers and winters, Montrose is a 4 season paradise surrounded by glorious mountains, canyons, mesas, rivers, and lakes.
Montrose offers something for everyone. As a great stopping point between desert country and the numerous 14teeners of the San Juan Range, Montrose is a hidden gem for the history buff and nature lover.
Only a few miles from the heart of Montrose lies a major fly fishing destination. The Gunnison River lures fly fishers of all experience levels with its remote river terrain, wildlife, and amazing fishing. The Gunnison River is the fifth largest tributary of the Colorado River, 164 miles (264 km) long, with significant historic sites including some of Colorado’s oldest Native American rock art. The Gunnison Gorge NCA is the crown jewel of the Gunnison River, with 15 miles of Gold Medal waters and natural wonder, nestled in a National Conservation Area Wilderness. Whether float fishing, fly fishing or paddle sports, explore a multiday adventure on this section for the experience of a lifetime.
For photographers and nature lovers, the spectacular Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, one of the longest, narrowest, and deepest gorges in the world, is only 11 miles from Montrose. Here you will witness two million years of work by the Gunnison River, carving some of North America’s oldest exposed rock and steepest cliffs. While you’re in the area, do not miss the lower Gunnison section, Dominguez-Escalante NCA, named for the Spanish Jesuits that first explored the area in 1777. The Dominguez and Escalante Canyons are rich in history, wildlife, and scenery, with stunning examples of red rock canyons and sandstone cliffs lining over 30 miles of the Gunnison River. Native American rock art and spectacular desert flora and fauna can be found on numerous side-hikes, making for a rich experience on the edge of canyon country while on a multiday river adventure.
If you are a history buff, then do not miss the Ute Indian Museum for one of the best collections of Ute Indian artifacts anywhere. The museum is located at the heart of Ute territory on lands that Chief Ouray once inhabited. The museum also offers a visitor’s center, gift shop, picnic areas, changing exhibits, and other “hands-on” programs.
Top 5 Day Trips from Montrose
Within two hours or less, there are many amazing day trips from Montrose that should not be missed.
Million Dollar Highway and San Juan Skyway
The name says it all. This drive offers up “million dollar” views that will leave you breathless, taking you through some of Colorado’s most spectacular mountain passes and charming towns. The 24-mile section between Silverton and Ouray is by far the most stunning and dramatic portion of this classic drive. Going South from Ouray as you approach the summit of Red Mountain, you will pass old mines and abandoned buildings, including the ghost towns of Red Mountain Town and Ironton.
Also along this route are the trailheads for the Alpine loop and Black Bear Pass. For the more adventurous travelers who want to explore the backcountry, make sure you have a vehicle with four-wheel drive and high clearance. As you leave Ouray, you will pass the famous Ouray Ice Park on the right. Take a right at Camp Bird Road for access to the Yankee Boy Basin, or take the scenic route to Telluride via Imogene Pass – the 2nd highest drivable pass in Colorado at 13,100 feet.
Should you choose to do the San Juan Skyway from the other direction, take Highway 62 west off of 550 in the historic ranching town of Ridgway. Located in a beautiful open valley with expansive views of the Cimarron Range and the San Juan Mountains, Ridgway sits at the crossroads between Ouray, Montrose, and Telluride. Known for its family-friendly feel, Ridgway puts you right in the heart of regional outdoor adventures. Only minutes away from the San Miguel River, the Uncompahgre, and Ridgway State Park. Ridgway is the perfect place to stop, relax, and enjoy the outdoors.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a trip the whole family will never forget. This historic steam locomotive train ride has been in operation for more than 120 years. Enjoy 45 miles of Southwest Colorado’s canyons, abandoned mining camps, and the steepest peaks around. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is an ideal family getaway.
A perfect day trip from Grand Junction, Ouray is a historic and charming Victorian-era mining town dubbed the “Little Switzerland of America.” Only about a 2-hour drive from Grand Junction, come to Ouray to soak in the natural hot springs, hike miles of established trails or go 4 wheeling in the “Jeep Capital of the World.”
Owl Creek Pass and the Cimarron Range
Whether you are a backcountry enthusiast or an RV traveler, Owl Creek Pass and the Cimarron Range offer everyone a rare and unspoiled wilderness adventure. If you seek solitude, backcountry hiking, camping, or high alpine fly fishing, this is your place. Highlights include wild rainbow and cutthroat trout on the three forks of the Cimarron River, the scenic and remote Silverjack Reservoir, along with great camping and fishing below the dam at the Big Cimarron Campground. The area boasts excellent public access and is only about a 3-hour drive from Grand Junction.
Since its humble beginnings as a rowdy mining town, Telluride has always been a special kind of place. Now a cultural icon, visit Telluride for some of Colorado’s most spectacular scenery, freestone rivers, a world-class mountain resort, world-famous festivals, culinary delights, and outdoor activities.