Montrose (Colorado)

Montrose is a town in the Uncompahgre Valley in Southwestern Colorado. It is a gateway to both Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to its east and Telluride and other ski areas in the San Juan Mountains to the south. It is also home to the West Elks American Viticultural Area (AVA), part of Colorado's Wine Country and the highest wine vineyards in North America.


Montrose is the second-largest town in western Colorado. Located on the valley floor, Montrose is surrounded by the photogenic mountain ranges of the Uncompahgre Plateau to the west and snow-capped San Juan mountains to the south.

The Uncompahgre Valley was the ancestral home of the Ute nation. But in the late 1870s, the lure of the gold and silver deposits in the area proved too great for the white settler population to resist. Tensions boiled over with the Meeker Massacre in 1879. Pushed to the breaking point by the Federal government's attempts to disband their nomadic way of life, the Utes killed several whites and launched the so-called Ute War. Initially successful, the Utes were forcibly relocated to Utah, and the southwest corner of Colorado, near Cortez.

Two months after the Utes were evicted, in December 1881, the town was founded. In the early days, Montrose was known variously as Pomona, Dad’s Town, and Uncompahgre Town.

Eventually, the town was named after Sir Walter Scott's historic novel, "A Legend of Montrose" because the area reminded Joseph Selig, the town founder, of Scotland's lake country.

Montrose served as a supply depot to service mining towns like Ouray, Silverton, Telluride and Durango in the San Juans, raising cattle and sheep to feed the miners. By 1882, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Co built a narrow gauge railroad from Montrose to Silverton.

Besides mining and ranching, orchards were a part of the area's agricultural history. The mines went into decline, and agriculture became the center of Montrose's economy. Settlers worked the fertile valley soil producing fruits, grains and vegetables. By the late 20th century, grape growers had discovered the area's potential for raising white wine varietals, and Colorado's wine industry migrated south from Grand Junction and Palisade. The West Elks American Viticultural Area was formed in 2001. Ranging from 5,400 feet (1646 m) to 6,400 feet (1951 m) above sea level, West Elks comprises the highest vineyards in North America.

Montrose now serves as a recreational hub for tourists and outdoor enthusiasts. Leisure travelers can hike, camp or enjoy boating and fishing in the surrounding national parks, forests and recreation areas. The town is a laid back mix of ranchers, farmers, ski bums, aging hippies and jocks.

The busy tourist months are in the summer, with most travelers just passing through in the winter on their way to Crested Butte and Telluride.

Get in

By plane

Montrose Regional Airport (IATA: MTJ), 2100 Airport Road, Phone: +1=970-249-3203, Fax: +1 970-249-2808 Regional service from Denver. Used most heavily during ski season. Cafe, vending, restrooms, car rentals.

There are also airports in Denver and Grand Junction.

By car

By bus

Get around

If you want to travel around town, then you will need to rent a vehicle. Prices are the same as across the United States. Downtown Montrose is easily navigated by foot.





Wine Tasting







Internet Access

Most Starbucks, hotels and coffee shops throughout the region offer wireless Wi-Fi access. But if you don't have a computer, try the public libraries.


Go next

Routes through Montrose

Grand Junction Olathe  W  E  Curecanti N.R.A. Pueblo
END  N  S  Ouray Durango

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, June 03, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.