Equidistant from Grand Junction and Telluride, Montrose is currently in a state of flux. Both a retirement community (hence the three golf courses) and a popular destination for hip young Coloradans looking to escape the ever-increasing rents of Denver, Montrose also has more than a dash of classic Western living thanks to an agricultural tradition that stretches back to the town’s inception. If you find yourself in the Montrose area this weekend, use this guide for two days of outdoor activities, dining, and history in Montrose, Colorado.
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Day 1: The Old West
If you arrive hungry to this on-the-rise Western town, try Vine Market and Bistro on the corner of Main Street and Cascade. A relatively recent addition to town, it is a reincarnation of a former restaurant located a few blocks away with the addition of a year-round market that together offer everything from house-made cannolis and coffee to meals big and small.
Next, the Museum of the Mountain West is an homage to the region’s past (well the cowboy part anyway) and every now and again (call or keep tabs on the museum’s website for dates) it comes alive with reenactments – yours truly has even “acted” in one such reenactment. A handsome cowboy if you must know. The museum was opened and is still run by retired historical archaeologist Richard E. Fike. With hundreds of thousands of artifacts and several storefronts, lovers of the Old West will be captivated for hours.
Additionally, try the Ute Indian Museum at the other end of town and learn about the history and the living culture of Colorado’s longest continuous residents.
Explore the town by bike by borrowing a cruiser from the Montrose Visitors’ Center or hire a bike from one of the bike shops in town: Cascade Bicycles, Papa Wheelie’s Bicycles, and Montrose Bicycle Outfitters.
Before the sun sets head to Baldridge Park and sit next to the Uncompahgre River. Less than 10 minutes from downtown on a bike, the park is home to a covered picnic area, playgrounds, a skate park, a hockey rink, ponds as well as Montrose Water Sports Park, a stretch of 1,000 feet of river that offers aquatic recreation to everyone including waders, kayakers and SUP’ers.
At the end of long day of activities, you’re going to want to refuel. There’s no better place for authentic, rustic pizza and a microbrew than Colorado Boy Pizzeria and Brewery. Go for the Cowboy pie with housemade sausage, fresh tomato, and gorgonzola cheese.
Day 2 – Canyons, Coffee, and Camping
At least one of your days in Montrose should start at sunrise at the majestic Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
An incredible place on the edge of town and an International Dark Sky Park, the Black Canyon is just 13 or so miles from downtown. An absolute must see, the park will keep most people busy for hours. For those with a little extra energy in the mornings, why not try cycling the seven miles and 1,800 or so feet from Highway 50 to the park’s entrance station. Be warned, it is not for the faint of heart.
Also very beautiful is the nearby Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. If you are staying in the region for a second or even third night, consider camping at Cottonwood Grove and perhaps fishing in the Gold Medal waters.
If you do decide to head out early, try Don Gilberto’s for a mammoth breakfast burrito. If you’re particularly hungry try the Montrose Burrito, a frankly ridiculous block of food that contains pretty much everything.
Montrose is the fifth host town for the 32nd installment of Ride the Rockies, the seven-day, 450-mile endurance ride across Colorado, June 10-17, 2017. Click here to explore Gunnison, the sixth Ride the Rockies host town!