Montrose is a municipality of about 20,000 residents that’s located in the remote west-central portion of Colorado, about an hour southeast of Grand Junction.
Surrounded by numerous national forests, parks, and recreation areas, Montrose has been consistently ranked as one of the top places in the country for sportsmen and women to vacation.
During the winter months, access is often limited to those who don’t mind driving through the snow, but during the relatively warm summer months, it’s a huge draw for anglers, nature lovers, and all-around outdoor enthusiasts.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Montrose, Colorado.
1. Montrose Botanic Gardens
Though it doesn’t have the most hospitable climate or fertile soil in the world, Montrose is home to a beautiful botanic garden, which is located on Pavilion Drive.
Montrose Botanic Gardens feature a variety of plants, flowers, and succulents that are generally suited to the high desert; they’re set in a number of distinct cultivated areas.
There are easily traversed trails leading to each area, and the natural landscape is incorporated as well, making some sections look much as they would in the wild.
The gardens often host a variety of special events and holiday celebrations, so check their website before heading out.
2. Montrose County Historical Museum
The Montrose County Historical Museum is located on North Rio Grande Avenue and was established in 1973.
It’s a valuable community resource that’s both entertaining and educational, especially for lovers of history and culture and those visiting the area for the first time,
The museum’s collection includes numerous items, most of which are related to the area’s exploration and settler eras, which took place in the early part of the 19th century.
Weapons, clothes, first-hand accounts, and Native American artifacts are well represented; many of them were donated by local families that trace their roots back nearly two centuries.
3. Montrose Farmer’s Market
The Montrose Farmer’s Market is held year-round on Saturdays in Centennial Plaza.
During the growing season, it’s chock-full of local produce, meat, and baked goods. For many regular visitors, it’s as much a social occasion as it a shopping one.
Though produce can be hit or miss during the winter, there are always additional items like dairy products, honey, and preserves, as well as non-food items like health and body products and arts and crafts.
During the holidays, the market features special events, so swing by then if you’d like to experience Christmas in the Rocky Mountain State.
4. Montrose Water Sports Park
Located in Riverbottom Park just minutes from downtown, Montrose Water Sports Park offers visitors an abundance of activity options; many of them are appropriate for those of varying ages and levels of ability.
The facility sits along a long stretch of river that maintains its flow year-round, even when many other rivers nearly dry up.
Kayaking, wakeboarding, and even surfing are popular, but for those who’d rather not brave the waves and rapids, there’s a beach and shallow wading areas.
The park also features scenic trails, picnic areas, a playground, and a disc golf course, and the cost of admission is reasonable.
5. Ute Indian Museum
For countless generations before the Rocky Mountains were settled by those of European descent, they were the exclusive domain of Native Americans; the Ute people were one of the most widespread and significant groups.
The Ute Indian Museum is located on Chipeta Road and has undergone upgrades and expansions in the last few years. Its impressive collection includes weapons, clothes, tools, ceramics, and baskets with intricate designs created by Ute craftsmen and women over the years.
For many visitors, the museum is one of the most educational and engaging activities of their trip, but it’s also poignant because the Ute’s traditional way of life is largely a thing of the past.
6. Chipeta Lake State Wildlife Area
For lovers of Colorado’s majestic scenery and the great outdoors, Chipeta Lake State Wildlife Area would be a great place to spend a day.
The area is particularly popular with bird watchers; along the trails, a variety of species are commonly seen.
A relatively short drive from Montrose, Chipeta Lake is stocked with a variety of game fish; many of them are relatively easy to catch even for novice fishers and children. Hiking, photography, and picnicking are also popular pastimes.
Chipeta Lake State Wildlife Area features bathrooms and ample parking and is open year-round.
7. Mi Mexico
Like all the western states, Colorado has a large Mexican population; for food lovers who adore south of the border cuisine, there are plenty of dining options.
Mi Mexico is located on East Main Street in Montrose, and according to those who know their Mexican food inside and out, it offers some of the best traditional fare they’ve ever had.
Enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, and huevos rancheros are a few of their perennial favorites, and the restaurant has a fully stocked bar as well.
The restaurant is decorated in vibrant colors and offers happy hour drink prices from 3 to 6 PM.
8. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
For its sheer variety of activity options, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is in a league of its own.
The park’s natural environments include amazing examples of canyons, cliffs, and monumental rock formations, which were created over millions of years of water and wind erosion.
For those looking to capture the area’s beauty, photography is a popular activity, and the park is where many outdoorsy visitors choose to spend much of their time.
Hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and fishing are big hits too. For anglers, the Gunnison River is particularly known for its thriving population of trout.
9. Colorado Boy Pizzeria & Brewery
For many weary travelers with empty stomachs and dry throats, few things go together better than pizza and beer.
Colorado Boy Pizzeria & Brewery offers plenty of both, and considering its inviting atmosphere, attentive staff, and reasonable prices, it’s a must-visit culinary attraction.
Colorado Boy’s dough is made fresh on-site daily. Their pizzas are available in a variety of sizes with plenty of topping options, like sausage, vegetables, mushrooms, and even Buffalo chicken, which is a local favorite.
They offer salads and tasty sides as well, and their beers range from light and refreshing pilsners to dark stouts that pack big punches.
10. The Museum of the Mountain West
The Museum of the Mountain West was the brainchild of a local man named Richard Fike, who dedicated much of his life to preserving the area’s rich heritage.
Previous guests have stated that the museum far exceeded their expectations, and that it was fun and engaging for children and adults alike.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 to 4 PM, and the cost of admission is about as cheap as you’ll find at any area attraction.
Guided tours are inexpensive, and for those traveling in groups or with large numbers of children, special rates may be available, so give them a call before heading out.
11. The Coffee Trader
The independent spirit is alive and well in Colorado, and unlike many other states, locally-owned coffee shops are thriving.
The Coffee Trader was established two decades ago and is located in a historic building that’s been around since the early years of the 20th century.
Featuring a variety of espresso and coffee options made with high-end beans, The Coffee Trader also has an extensive selection of teas, smoothies, and juices. They serve breakfast sandwiches and baked goods that are made on-site every day.
The shop is located on Main Street and is the perfect place to stop for sustenance before heading out to explore.
12. Black Canyon Golf Course
Black Canyon Golf Course is an 18-hole municipal facility that’s been ranked as one of the best courses in the region numerous times over the past decade.
It plays just more than 6,300 yards, which means it can be played in about four hours, leaving plenty of time in the day for other endeavors.
The front and back nines each have distinct themes and layouts, which most golfers like.
The course has been open since 1959 and offers amazing natural scenery, lots of trees, and a pleasant mix of sand and water hazards, as well as long fairways and manicured greens.
13. Horsefly Brewing Company
Horsefly Brewing Company has a unique mantra – ‘No crap on tap.’
To that end, the brewers at Horsefly use only the freshest quality ingredients, and many of them are sourced locally.
Their small batch production methods produce beers that aren’t lacking in the flavor department. They come in a wide range of flavor profiles, so every visitor should be able to find something they like.
They’ve also got darn good food that pairs nicely with beer; their wings and fresh jalapeno poppers are among the favorites.
Both in and outdoor seating is available, the latter of which is perfect when the mild summer weather is conducive to being outside.
14. Curecanti National Recreation Area
Established in 1965, the Curecanti National Recreation Area is run by the National Park Service and is located along the Gunnison River.
There are also three reservoirs within the park that offer visitors a variety of water recreation options in the summer.
Trout and salmon fishing is popular with anglers and generally remains good from the spring to the fall.
Ranger-guided boat tours through the breathtaking canyons are big hits as well; they’re relatively inexpensive and last about 90 minutes.
There are ten campgrounds that accommodate both tents and RVs. Pets are allowed too, but they’re restricted to certain areas, so check their websites for specifics.
15. Colorado National Monument
In a rugged and beautiful state like Colorado, it’s tough to stand out, but according to those who’ve spent time at the Colorado National Monument, it’s an attraction that does just that.
The monument is characterized by towering sandstone canyons, granite spires, and forests of pinion and juniper trees, making it the perfect destination for photographers.
For hikers, there are plenty of trails leading to multiple viewing areas, and many guests end up sticking around longer than they’d originally intended.
The visitor center is a great place to stop first for those unfamiliar with the monument’s layout. Within just a few miles, there are museums, a Vietnam memorial, and a winery.