Things to Do in Montrose
Montrose sits in the heart of the Uncompahgre Valley north of the San Juan Mountains. The precipitous Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is east of Montrose, Grand Mesa rises to the north, canyons and forests lie on the Uncompahgre Plateau on the west, and Ridgway State Park, Ouray, and iconic Colorado mountains and high passes are in the San Juans to the south. Montrose, the long-time home of the Southern Ute tribe, makes an affordable base camp for exploring southwestern Colorado.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a 2,000-foot-deep gorge, is a stunning natural wonder and one of Montrose’s biggest draws. The abrupt canyon, carved by the Gunnison River, was designated as a national park in 1999 for its scenic beauty and rugged character.
East of the national park is Curecanti National Recreation Area, a recreational paradise with three reservoirs on the Gunnison River, 10 campgrounds, 18 picnic areas, and four visitor centers. The area offers diverse hiking trails, fishing for big lake trout and kokanee salmon, boating, sailing, and windsurfing at the Bay of Chickens. Don’t miss the ranger-led Morrow Point Boat Tour which explores fjord-like Morrow Point Reservoir and passes remote Chipeta Falls.
Plenty of hiking trails thread through the gorgeous country surrounding Montrose. Four trails, including popular Chukar Trail, descend to the Gunnison River in Gunnison Gorge northeast of town. Three national forests—Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison—surround Montrose. These public lands offer superb hiking on trails through wildflower-strewn meadows, up glaciated valleys, reaching waterfalls and alpine lakes, and up soaring mountain peaks, including 14,157-foot Mount Sneffels.
Fishermen love Montrose and the Uncompahgre River Valley. Excellent fishing is found in the Uncompahgre right in Montrose, or head 22 miles south to Ridgway State Park. The park’s reservoir offers good shoreline fishing at Dutch Charlie and Dallas Creek, or great tailwater trout fishing at the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk area below the dam. Serious anglers head to the Gold Medal Waters in Gunnison Gorge, which are reached only by trail. Expect to catch big brown and rainbow trout.
The Montrose area offers prime off-road and jeeping terrain for rock crawlers, ATVs, motorbikes, and 4×4 vehicles. The Alpine Loop Back Country Byway over Engineer and Cinnamon passes in the San Juans is simply one of America’s best 4×4 tours with spectacular mountain scenery.
Montrose offers lots more outdoor opportunities with its 29 developed parks, over 30 miles of paved trails, and 15 miles of singletrack hiking and mountain biking trails. The Montrose Water Sports Park, located at Riverbottom Park, is one of Colorado’s largest with 1,000 feet of the Uncompahgre River. Golfers enjoy three challenging courses—The Links at Cobble Creek, The Bridges, and Black Canyon Golf Course. North of Montrose is Devil’s Thumb Golf Course, a links course nestled in a high desert valley.