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Destination Montrose Colorado

Sitting at the heart of Western Colorado, Montrose has a lot to offer, both in town and within a couple of hours drive in pretty much every direction. Day-tripable destinations from Montrose include several ski areas, the largest flat top mesa in the world in Grand Mesa, wineries, a national park and several state parks. You can spend 24 hours in Montrose, 48 hours in the Uncompahgre Valley or three days in the wider region.

The Great Outdoors

The Painted Wall in the Black Canyon National park is the highest cliff in Colorado at 2,250 feet.

The Painted Wall in the park is the highest cliff in Colorado at 2,250 feet. For comparison, Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago is the tallest building in the U.S. at 1,450 feet tall. Photo: NPS/Victoria Stauffenberg

In town is the excellent Montrose Water Sports Park. One of the few parks of its kind in the country to be accessible by ADA standards, the park has six drop structures and flows until around Halloween every year, drawing in people from around the region. Montrose Water Sports Park and the adjacent Riverbottom Park is also home to FUNC Fest, a festival of water sports competitions, live music, activities, a food truck village, and a beer garden!

Perhaps the greatest asset Montrose has is its proximity to the great Colorado outdoors. The views of the San Juan Mountains from downtown are breathtaking and allude to what is on offer just a short drive out of town. In fact, Montrose is surrounded by millions of acres of public land in every direction.

There are few towns that have a national park at their doorsteps, but Montrose is one of them. A 10-minute drive from downtown, the magnificent Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a veritable gash in the crust of the earth, descending 2,722 feet at its deepest point from the rim to the roaring Gunnison River below. The dizzying chasm is also a designated International Dark Skies Park which is “a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.” Adventurous hikers should take on Tomichi Trail, an extremely steep 1,800-foot descent to the canyon floor.

To the west of downtown is the trailhead for the RimRocker Trail, a 160-mile trail that takes off-road enthusiasts (most often those behind the wheel of a Jeep but occasionally a cyclist) to Moab, Utah.

The area is also great for mountain bikers, with three trail systems in the area—Buzzard Gulch, Electric Hills, and the RAT system in nearby Ridgway. The best resources for mountain biking in the area are COPMOBA, the Montrose chapter of the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association, and MUT, the Montrose Uncompahgre Trail, a lead chapter of COPMOBA.

There are also three golf courses—The Bridges, Cobble Creek, and Black Canyon—plus miles of award-winning fly-fishing along the Gunnison River in nearby Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Montrose Colorado

Pomona Brewing Montrose Colorado

Pomona Brewing is named after the Roman Goddess of fruit as an homage to the fruit orchards that covered the valley years ago, and it is the former name of Montrose. Photo: Joe Hendricks / Meridian 105 Media

Montrose isn't yet abuzz with nightlife, especially after the sun goes down, but there are breweries, a distillery, a winery and a few good restaurants.

On Main Street, Colorado Boy serves excellent pizza and good beer. Pomona Brewing, owned by Kevin and Chelsea McHugh has a good range of excellent beers thanks to Kevin’s adventurous nature. With a covered patio in the front and foosball, shuffleboard and darts in the back, it has been the hotspot in town since it opened.

For something a little stronger, Storm King Distilling Company is an award-winning distillery with a small bar serving great cocktails and bottles to go. Phenalies is a funky Speakeasy on Main street that also serves cocktails in an intimate setting. Other popular places include Jimmer’s Barbecue, Remington’s at the Bridges golf course and Trattoria Di Sofia which recently moved to the Colorado Outdoors campus. There are also several food trucks around town.

Storm King Distilling Co. Montrose Colorado

Storm King Distilling Co. recently won 'Best American Whiskey' for their 'Side Gig' whiskey at the The Whiskey Magazine Awards – America 2023. Photo: Courtesy of Storm King Distilling Co.

Local coffee shops include Coffee Trader, San Juan Brews (where you can also grab a beer), and Cimarron Coffee Roasters, which offers a more artisanal experience. Coffee should almost always be accompanied by doughnuts from Montrose Donut And Deli. For a quick breakfast before you head out on an adventure, Sunrise Burritos is a tiny drive-through just south of downtown that has a small menu, but you can’t go wrong no matter what you order.

Dessert (and gifts to take home) can be found at the incredible Alpen Confections. Lin McKay and Mike Shafer are nothing short of master chocolatiers.

Where to Sleep

Canyon Creek Bed and Breakfast Montrose Colorado

Stay in the same room as Quentin Tarantino did when he found himself in Montrose for what we are sure was a very pleasant evening. Photo: Canyon Creek Bed & Breakfast

Montrose offers all of your typical accommodation options: campsites, motels, hotels, and Airbnbs. There’s even a bed and breakfast with a Hollywood connection: Canyon Creek Bed and Breakfast on Main Street is where Quentin Tarantino found himself one October night when he couldn't get out of town after presumably scouting locations for the “Hateful 8” in nearby Telluride. Owner Kendra Gallegos duly obliged and housed the director and his assistant.

Such was Gallegos’ hospitality that Tarantino found time to handwrite a personal note to her. It’s framed with a photo of the two together in the lobby of the property. Gallegos also brings comedians from across the state and the country for regular comedy nights at Canyon Creek.

And that isn’t the only Hollywood connection to Montrose. Montrose’s most famous son is undoubtedly Dalton Trumbo. The screenwriter and novelist wrote the screenplays for award-winning films including “Roman Holiday,” “Exodus,” and Stanley Kubrick’s “Spartacus” winning two Oscars. Trumbo was also one of the infamous Hollywood Ten, a group that were cited for contempt of Congress for alleged involvement with the Communist Party. Trumbo continued to work under various pseudonyms or under the names of other writers, eventually getting credit for work he produced during this period.

There is also unique accommodations at the Bridges Golf Course. There are seven suites—four on the second floor of the club house and three next to the clubhouse—although they are not typical hotel accommodations as they don't have daily cleaning or room service, but they are competitively priced. Of the suites, three of them have truly incredible views of the Sun Juan mountains.

Are You Not Entertained?

Cousin Curtiss plays at Oktoberfest in Montrose Colorado

Cousin Curtiss was the headline act at Oktoberfest 2021 at the Montrose Rotary Amphitheater. Photo: William Woody / Meridian 105 Media

In addition to the comedy nights at Canyon Creek, there is a reasonable amount of other entertainment options in Montrose. The Montrose Rotary Amphitheater is an impressive outdoor music venue a short walk from downtown. Opened in 2021, the amphitheater has a capacity of around 6,000.

The Montrose Summer Music Series took up residence there last year and continues in 2023. The four-concert series kicked off on June 2 with Chancey Williams and will continue on the first Friday of July, August, and September. There is also the amateur dramatic Magic Circle Players theater, occasional concerts at the Bridges Golf Course and the fantastic Star Drive-in Theater.

Step Back in Time at a Museum

There are three museums in Montrose that do an admirable job of charting the town’s history. South of downtown, the Ute Indian Museum was built in 1956 (it underwent an extensive renovation and reopened in June 2017) near the ranch of Uncompahgre leader Chief Ouray and his wife Chipeta.

The museum and grounds are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and include the Chief Ouray Memorial Park which is where Chipeta was buried. The complex also includes a memorial to the Spanish conquistadors who traveled through the area in 1776. Operated by History Colorado, a non-profit and part of the State’s Department of Higher Education, the museum has exhibitions that focus on the Ute peoples' history of adaptation and persistence as well as celebrating the Bear Dance.

East of town on the way to the Black Canyon is the Museum of the Mountain West. Started by Rich Fike as a place to display his personal collection of western memorabilia, the museum grew to the point where it was decided it would be a good idea to share it with anyone who wanted to see it. The museum is a complex of several buildings and hundreds of thousands of artefacts with the main building housing a series of storefronts including a saloon, a dentist’s office, and a drug store among others. It truly is an awesome place.

Rounding out the trio of museums is the Montrose County Historical Museum. Located downtown in the old Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Depot, the museum tells the story of the town from its founding.

Getting to Montrose

While driving to Montrose is undoubtedly a popular option, especially as a part of a road trip, flying right into Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ) is the main option for those visiting the area, including skiers heading to Crested Butte and Telluride. Direct flights for summer 2023 include to Phoenix, Dallas, Chicago, Houston, and, of course, Denver. For ski season, there are even more.

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