If you’re headed to the Four Corners area of Colorado, chances are you’ll pass through Montrose. If so, take time to stop and appreciate this hospitable town with a few choice diversions.
It’s the closest town to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, one of the nation’s newest national parks and worth a day of exploration on its own.
The starkly sheer walls of the canyon get little exposure to sunlight – thus, its name. Stop at the visitors’ center to watch the video and understand how inaccessible this dramatic geologic treasure has proven to be. Then take a hike along the rim and listen for the trill of the canyon wren or cry of a peregrine falcon. You might even spot a golden eagle soaring silently over the gorge. There are plenty of pull-outs for exploring or taking photos.
If you’re looking for water sports, they’re not far away. East of the Black Canyon are the Blue Mesa Reservoir and Curecanti National Recreation Area. Blue Mesa is Colorado’s largest body of water and is a great place for boating, fishing and otherwise enjoying the water. Also check out the Morrow Point Boat Tours for a close look at why the canyon is so daunting.
Back in town, stop by the interesting Ute Indian Museum (look for the white tipis outside). If you’re into local history, forge on to the Montrose County Historical Museum, located in the old Denver & Rio Grande Railroad station.
If all this exploring makes you hungry, stop by Café 110 for lunch – if you can get in. The place is packed every day because it serves savory, sometimes unusual sandwiches and other lunch fare. For dinner, you’ve got to try Garlic Mike’s. The popular Gunnison restaurant has a sister establishment here, and it’s just as delectable as the original. Another local favorite is Smuggler’s Brew Pub for steaks and suds.
You can stay in a new, fairly plush Hampton Inn, or find a more historic ambiance at the Canyon Creek Bed and Breakfast downtown. The B&B also has live music and libations on Thursday nights, even if you’re not staying there.
Montrose is the largest town in this part of Colorado, so if you forgot to pack something (like sunscreen or a backpack), this is where to buy it. Antiques hounds will be in heaven here. Pick up a Montrose Antiques Trail guide at the visitors’ center.
If you have kids in tow, check out the town’s aquatic center or the Montrose Skate Park, rated as one of the best in the country by Thrasher magazine – and they should know, dude. Or stop by the BMX track at the Montrose County Fairgrounds. Meanwhile, mom and dad can take a crack at the links at several area golf courses.
Montrose may be a gateway city, but it’s worth an overnight stay, at least.
If You Go
For information on visiting Montrose, call 970-497-8558 or go to visitmontrose.com.
For information on Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, call 970-641-2337 or go to nps.gov/blca/
Linda DuVal is a freelance writer who lives in Colorado Springs.