Montrose County, Colorado Overview: Cities, History & Nature


Montrose County, located in western Colorado, spans an impressive 2,243 square miles and has a population of over 42,000. This diverse county is home to various cities and towns, each with its unique character and charm.


  • Montrose County is one of the best places for outdoor recreation in the United States. It offers access to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the San Juan Mountains, and numerous other natural wonders.
  • The county is known for its agricultural heritage, particularly its sweet corn production in Olathe.
  • Montrose County is rich in history, with several museums and historical sites showcasing the region's Native American and pioneer past.

Exploring the Cities and Towns of Montrose County

Montrose: The Heart of the County

The city of Montrose, with a population of over 19,000, serves as the county seat and economic center. Founded in 1882, Montrose has grown from a small railroad town to a thriving community. Visitors and residents alike enjoy the city’s vibrant downtown, which is one of the best places in the area to find unique shops, restaurants, and art galleries.

Nucla and Naturita: The West End’s Hidden Gems

Nucla and Naturita, located in the western part of Montrose County, offer a glimpse into the area’s mining and agricultural past. These small towns provide access to outdoor adventures, such as hiking, fishing, and hunting in the surrounding public lands.

Olathe: The Sweet Corn Capital

Olathe, known as the “Sweet Corn Capital of the World,” celebrates its agricultural roots with an annual sweet corn festival in August. This charming small town also offers a variety of community events throughout the year, showcasing its tight-knit community spirit.

Natural Wonders and Outdoor Adventures in Montrose County

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a must-see for any visitor to Montrose County. This stunning canyon, carved by the Gunnison River, features steep cliffs, scenic drives, and hiking trails. The park offers opportunities for rock climbing, kayaking, and stargazing.

San Juan Mountains Access

Montrose County provides easy access to the San Juan Mountains, a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy skiing and snowboarding at nearby resorts like Telluride and Silverton during the winter months. In the summer, the mountains offer endless opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and camping.

Cultural and Historical Insights

Ute Indian Museum

The Ute Indian Museum, located in Montrose, showcases the history and culture of the Ute tribe, the oldest residents of Colorado. The museum features exhibits on traditional Ute life and educational programs and events.

Montrose County Historical Society

The Montrose County Historical Society operates several museums and historic places throughout the county, including the Montrose County Historical Museum and the Denver & Rio Grande Depot. These sites offer a glimpse into the region’s pioneer and railroad history.

Economic Overview and Opportunities

Agriculture and Industry

Agriculture plays a significant role in Montrose County’s economy, with major crops including sweet corn, potatoes, and alfalfa. The county is also home to several manufacturing and energy companies, providing employment opportunities for residents. Another source of employment is the Montrose Regional Hospital (formerly Montrose Memorial Hospital).

Tourism and Local Business

Thanks to its abundant outdoor recreation opportunities and cultural attractions, tourism is a growing industry in Montrose County. The county is home to a variety of local businesses, including restaurants, shops, and artisanal producers, which contribute to the area’s unique character.

Community Life and Events

Annual Festivals and Community Gatherings

Montrose County hosts several annual festivals and events, including the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival, the Montrose Wine and Food Festival, and the Montrose County Fair. These events showcase the county’s agricultural heritage and provide opportunities for community bonding.

Educational and Recreational Facilities

Montrose County is served by the Montrose County School District, which operates several elementary, middle, and high schools. The county also offers a variety of recreational facilities, including parks, trails, and community centers, providing opportunities for residents of all ages to stay active and engaged.


What are the best times of year to visit Montrose County?

The best times to visit Montrose County depend on your interests. Summer is ideal for outdoor activities, while winter offers opportunities for skiing and snowboarding. Fall is a great time to enjoy the changing colors of the foliage.

Can you recommend any family-friendly activities in Montrose County?

Montrose County offers a variety of family-friendly activities, including visiting the Ute Indian Museum, exploring the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and attending local festivals and events.

What are some must-visit historical sites in Montrose County?

Some must-visit historic places in Montrose County include the Montrose County Historical Museum, the Denver & Rio Grande Depot, and the Cimarron Railroad Exhibit.

How can visitors best explore the natural landscapes of Montrose County?

Visitors can explore Montrose County’s natural landscapes by hiking, biking, or driving through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the San Juan Mountains, and the Uncompahgre National Forest. Guided tours and rentals are available for those who want a more structured experience.

What local specialties should visitors try while in Montrose County?

Visitors to Montrose County should try the famous Olathe Sweet Corn, which is available during the summer months. The county also offers a variety of locally produced meats, cheeses, and wines, which can be found at restaurants and shops throughout the area.

What conservation efforts are being made in Montrose County?

The Montrose County Government Affairs and Natural Resources Department oversees public land management and economic development, regulatory efficiency, and ecological services that protect habitats while allowing for community growth.


About the author

Shannon Persad

As a seasoned journalist and Colorado native, I bring a deep-rooted connection and comprehensive understanding of Colorado to my work at My appreciation for the state’s rich history, vibrant culture, and pressing environmental issues drives my commitment to exploring its evolving landscape—from the bustling urban centers to the tranquil mountain towns.