Naturita, Colorado: Economy and Culture


Naturita is a small town in southwestern Colorado with just over 500 residents. This unique community is situated in the Paradox Valley, surrounded by stunning natural landscapes and rich in history.


  • Naturita's unique geographical and cultural landscape includes its location in the Paradox Valley and its history as a mining town.
  • Naturita’s economic and historical significance within Colorado lies in its past as a uranium mining hub and its current focus on outdoor recreation and tourism.
  • Current attractions and activities available in Naturita include outdoor adventures like hiking, fishing, and exploring nearby natural wonders.

Geographical Overview

Naturita is located in Montrose County, Colorado, at an elevation of 5,449 feet. The town is situated in the Paradox Valley, a unique Western Colorado geological formation characterized by its dramatic cliffs and canyons. The climate in Naturita is semi-arid, with hot summers and cold winters, which influences the local lifestyle and tourism industry.

Historical Context

Naturita was founded in the early 1900s and grew significantly during the uranium mining boom of the 1940s and 1950s. The town played a crucial role in supplying uranium for the Manhattan Project during World War II. As the demand for uranium resources declined in the late 20th century, Naturita’s economy shifted to cater to tourists interested in outdoor recreation.

Economic Landscape

Today, Naturita’s economy is primarily driven by tourism and outdoor recreation. While mining natural resources once dominated the town’s industry, current major employers include local businesses catering to visitors interested in exploring the surrounding natural beauty. Tourism has taken a significant place in Naturita’s economy, helping the town adapt and thrive in the post-mining era.

Cultural and Community Life

Naturita’s small population is a tight-knit community that values its history and natural surroundings. Local traditions and events, such as the annual Rimrocker Historical Society Heritage Days, celebrate the town’s mining past and bring the community together. Public spaces like the Naturita Public Library and the Naturita Town Park serve as gathering places for residents and visitors alike.

Attractions and Activities

Naturita’s location in the heart of the Paradox Valley makes it an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts looking for adventure. Nearby natural attractions include the Uncompahgre Plateau, the San Miguel River, and the Dolores River, which offer opportunities for hiking, fishing, camping, and scenic drives. The Rimrocker Historical Museum showcases Naturita’s Western Colorado mining history, while events like the Rimrocker Trail and the Naturita Rodeo draw visitors throughout the year.

Infrastructure and Services

Naturita is accessible by car via Colorado State Highway 97, located approximately 60 miles from the nearest airport in Montrose, Colorado. The town offers basic public services, including a post office, a medical clinic, and a volunteer fire department. Accommodation options in Naturita include motels, RV parks, and vacation rentals, while dining options range from casual cafes to local bars and grills.

Future Outlook

As Naturita continues embracing its identity as an outdoor recreation destination, the town focuses on sustainable growth and environmental conservation. Economic and demographic trends suggest that Naturita’s future will be closely tied to its ability to attract and retain visitors interested in exploring the region’s natural beauty and opportunities for adventure while preserving its unique character and history.


What are the main attractions in Naturita, Colorado?

The main attractions in Naturita include the stunning natural landscapes of the Paradox Valley, outdoor recreation opportunities like hiking and fishing, and historical sites like the Rimrocker Historical Museum.

How does the climate in Naturita affect its tourism?

Naturita’s semi-arid climate, with hot summers and cold winters, influences the types of outdoor activities available throughout the year and can impact tourists’ visitation patterns.

What historical events are significant to Naturita’s development?

The uranium mining boom of the 1940s and 1950s played a significant role in Naturita’s growth and development, as the town supplied uranium for the Manhattan Project during World War II.

What are the major industries in Naturita today?

Today, tourism and outdoor recreation are the major industries in Naturita, as the town has shifted away from its mining past and embraced its natural surroundings as a key economic driver.

How can visitors best experience the culture and community life in Naturita?

Visitors can experience Naturita’s culture and community life by attending local events like the Rimrocker Historical Society Heritage Days, exploring public spaces like the Naturita Town Park, and interacting with friendly residents who take pride in their town’s history and natural beauty.


About the author

James Ranson

I’m an editor, traveler, and fan of the great outdoors. I’ve been to all 48 continental US states, and my drives through Colorado’s rugged peaks and snowy forests (not to mention whiskey tastings in Denver!) still stand out in my memories. I’m excited to use my ten years of editing experience to develop engaging and informative guides and articles that enhance the outdoor experiences of both Colorado residents and visitors. Whether a piece is about exploring the best ski resorts, uncovering scenic trails for hiking, or finding the most inspiring drives through the Colorado Rockies, my aim is to provide comprehensive and accessible content that encourages adventure and exploration.