Montrose, Colorado
South Townsend Avenue in Montrose.
South Townsend Avenue in Montrose.
"Quality Of Life Is Our Commitment "
"Stay here, play everywhere"
Location of the City of Montrose in Montrose County, Colorado.
Location of the City of Montrose in Montrose County, Colorado.
Montrose is located in the United States
Location of the City of Montrose in the United States.
Coordinates: 38°28′37″N 107°51′56″W / 38.47694°N 107.86556°W / 38.47694; -107.86556Coordinates: 38°28′37″N 107°51′56″W / 38.47694°N 107.86556°W / 38.47694; -107.86556
Country United States
State Colorado
CountyMontrose County[2]
IncorporatedMay 1, 1882[3]
 • TypeHome rule municipality[1]
 • MayorBarbara Bynum[4]
 • City ManagerWilliam E. Bell[5]
 • Total18.45 sq mi (47.78 km2)
 • Land18.45 sq mi (47.78 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation5,807 ft (1,770 m)
 • Total20,291
 • Density1,102.8/sq mi (425.8/km2)
Time zoneUTC−7 (MST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−6 (MDT)
ZIP codes[9]
81401, 81402 (PO Box), 81403
Area code(s)970
FIPS code08-51745
GNIS feature ID203328[7]
WebsiteCity of Montrose

Montrose is a home rule municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Montrose County, Colorado, United States.[10] The city population was 20,291 at the 2020 United States Census and a total area of 18.4 square miles.[8] The main road that leads in and out of Montrose is U.S. Highway 50. The town is located in western Colorado, in the Uncompahgre Valley and is an economic, labor, and transportation waypoint for the surrounding recreation industry. It is also the home of a few major engineering projects, namely the Gunnison Tunnel.


Montrose was incorporated on May 2, 1882 and named after Sir Walter Scott's novel A Legend of Montrose by Oliver D. "Pappy" Loutzenhizer and Joseph Selig. The Denver & Rio Grande railroad was built west toward Grand Junction and reached Montrose later in 1882, and the town became an important regional shipping center. A branch railroad line served the mineral-rich San Juan Mountains to the south.

In 1909 the U.S. government completed construction of the Gunnison Tunnel, which provided irrigation water from the Gunnison River in the Black Canyon to the Uncompahgre Valley, helping turn Montrose into an agricultural hub. The Uncompahgre Project is one of the oldest of those in the area by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Early in the area's history, prehistoric people lived in the vicinity who created rock art at the Shavano Valley Rock Art Site from 1000 BC or earlier; their decendents continued this practice until about AD 1881. These petroglyphs recorded cultural events and were a means of artistic expression.[11] The site is listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties and the National Register of Historic Places.[11]

Montrose is the birthplace of American screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo, who scripted films including Roman Holiday, Exodus, Spartacus and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.4 square miles (48 km2); all of it is land.

Montrose is in the south end of the Uncompahgre valley, and is built on the Uncompahgre River, which runs to the north, where 60 miles further its waters will join the Colorado River. It is surrounded by, to the north, the widening Uncompahgre Valley and the Grand Mesa, to the east, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, to the south, the San Juan Mountains, and to the west the Uncompahgre Plateau. The valley is arid, and is only arable due to the water from the Gunnison Tunnel and Ridgway Reservoir.


Montrose features a semi-arid Continental climate zone. The town sits on high grasslands in the Uncompahgre Valley of Western Colorado. Snowfall occurs during the winter but is usually short-lived due to the high altitude and abundant sunshine.

Climate data for Montrose, Colorado
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 35.8
Average low °F (°C) 12.3
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.62
Average snowfall inches (cm) 6.9


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[13] 2020[8]

Populations & People

As of the 2020 census, there were 20,291 people and 8,175 households residing in the city. The population density was 1,102.77 people per square mile (425.78/km2).[14] The average median age was 45.2 years and the average work commute time was 15.4 minutes, nearly 40% lower than the State of Colorado. In the city, the population was spread out, with 21.0% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 21.3% from 25 to 44, 25.0% from 45 to 64, and 25.3% who were 65 years of age or older. For every 100 females, there were 86.4 males.[14]

The racial makeup of the city was 78.44% White, 0.57% African American, 1.36% American Indian or Alaskan Native, 1.15% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 8.68% from other races, and 9.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4,491 people, or 22.13% of the population.[14]

Housing & Families

There were 9,468 housing units at an average density of 514.56 per square mile (198.67/km2). There were a total of 8,175 households, with an average family size of 2.90. 57.8% are married, 21.4% never married, 12.6% divorced, 1.2% separated, and 7.0% widowed. The homeownership rate was 68.8%, slightly higher than the Colorado average.[14] The median gross rent was $936 per month, or nearly 30% lower than the State of Colorado and nearly 36% lower than neighboring Telluride.[15]

Income & Poverty

The median income for a household in the city was $52,534, a 56% increase from the 2010 US Census. The median income for a family was $68,801. About 16.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.8% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.[14]

Educational Attainment

Approximately 27.5% of the population in the city has a Bachelor's Degree or higher, with 27.3% reporting a high school or equivalent agree, and 26.7% with some college but no degree.[14] About 77.7% of the those eligible for school enrollment between kindergarten and 12th grade are enrolled, much higher than the Colorado average of 66.5%.[14]


Due to its relative affordability and proximity to many world-class outdoor recreation activities, Montrose is known as a manufacturing hub for outdoor products. Fly-fishing companies Ross Reels, Abel, and Airflo are headquartered in the city.[16] Additionally, Scott Fly Rods relocated to Montrose from Telluride in 1993.[17] Gordon Composites, maker of nearly 90 percent of the high-performance laminate material used in the bow-hunting industry, is located in Montrose.[18] Colorado Yurt Company, maker of handcrafted yurts, tipis and rugged canvas wall tents, is also located in Montrose.[19]

The Montrose City Council[20] is actively recruiting outdoor recreation businesses to boost the local economy and create primary jobs. In addition, the City is planning major river corridor construction and restoration with the company, which it plans to use to attract more industry, increase outdoor recreation and promote tourism.[21][22][23]

The Gunnison Tunnel canal is used for recreation: water rushing through the canal below the tunnel creates a kayak-surfing spot called the M-wave.[24] However, the wave is on private property and is unsafe for inexperienced riders.[25]

Tourist and recreation opportunities are important to the regional economy. Montrose is a gateway to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to the east of town. In the winter, it is a transportation hub for ski areas of the San Juan Mountains to the south.

In November 2017, the City approved a $10 million fund for public infrastructure improvements[26] within the Colorado Outdoors development,[27] and was the recipient of a $2 million grant for a new trail system.[28] The GOCO grant was the largest single grant awarded to the City of Montrose in its history, and connects the newly built, $30 million Montrose Recreation Center[29] to the project, safely under-passing both major highways within the City.

The Montrose Urban Renewal Authority (MURA),[30] the taxing entity in partnership with the Colorado Outdoors project, was the recipient of 2019 Governors Award from Downtown Colorado, Inc for Best Urban Renewal project.[31]

In November 2019, Governor Jared Polis visited Montrose and Mayfly to unveil his Rural Economic Blueprint which focuses heavily on expanding rural access to broadband services and investing in rural economic development.[32][33]

Russell Stover Candies announced in January 2020 that it would be closing its Montrose plant in the spring of 2021, eliminating 400 jobs and offering employees to relocate to plants in Kansas and Texas. The plant is listed as a "primary employer" for the city on its Economic Development Corporation website.[34][35]

In October 2020, the City of Montrose announced a multi-year, multi-million dollar river restoration project along the Uncompahgre River, including a $785,00 grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.[36]


Fiber Optic Internet

The City of Montrose has several miles of fiber optic internet service installed, and boasts 1-gigabyte internet speeds throughout the community.[37]


Montrose Regional Airport serves the Montrose area with regional service to Denver. As the nearest major airport to the Telluride Ski Area, Montrose sees heavy seasonal service. Montrose has a city-run bus service. Its three lines run only during weekdays.[38] There are three lines that Montrose is part of Colorado's Bustang network. It is along the Durango-Grand Junction Outrider line.[39]

Major highways

See also

In popular culture


Several Western films have connections to Montrose. The original version of True Grit (1969 Film) starring John Wayne was filmed in Montrose and the surrounding region. Additionally, several scenes from motion pictures How the West Was Won (1962 Film) and The Sheepman (1958 Film) were shot in Montrose.


The television series, Then Came Bronson starring Michael Parks had the episodes "Old Tigers Never Die; They Just Run Away" and "Mating Dance for Tender Grass" filmed in and around Montrose.[40] In the A&E network reality show, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Montrose is featured in four episodes. The MTV reality show Teen Mom: Young and Pregnant's has several episodes filmed in Montrose, where living in a small town was a common talking point in the series.


The 2011 video game Homefront is set mostly in Montrose. The game tells the story of a resistance movement fighting in the near-future against the military occupation of the Western United States by North Korea.


  1. ^ a b c "Active Colorado Municipalities". State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Local Government. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
  2. ^ "Colorado Counties". State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Local Government. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
  3. ^ "Colorado Municipal Incorporations". State of Colorado, Department of Personnel & Administration, Colorado State Archives. 2004-12-01. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  4. ^ "Council Members - Montrose, CO - Official Website".
  5. ^ "City Manager". City of Montrose, Colorado. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
  6. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Montrose". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  8. ^ a b c "Explore Census Data".
  9. ^ "ZIP Code Lookup". United States Postal Service. Archived from the original (JavaScript/HTML) on November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2007.
  10. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  11. ^ a b National & State Registers for Montrose County, Colorado. Archived 2012-04-24 at the Wayback Machine Colorado Historical Society, Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 10-8-2011.
  12. ^ "MONTROSE 1, COLORADO - Climate Summary".
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g "Explore Census Data". Retrieved 2022-03-20.
  15. ^ "Explore Census Data". Retrieved 2022-03-20.
  16. ^ Lindberg, Matt. "Forging ahead". Montrose Daily Press. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  17. ^ "Montrose on the brink of a burgeoning growth era". Montrose Daily Press.
  18. ^ "Gordon Composites Inc. - Montrose EDC - Official Website".
  19. ^ "Colorado Yurt Company - Montrose EDC - Official Website".
  20. ^ "City Council - Montrose, CO - Official Website".
  21. ^[bare URL PDF]
  22. ^[bare URL PDF]
  23. ^ "City of Montrose". City of Montrose. Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  24. ^ Jared Seiler, Dave Fusilli Jared Seiler and Alex Hoetz surfing the M-Wave in Montrose Colorado, YouTube, 6 September 2007.
  25. ^ Willoughby, Scott (September 15, 2008). "The Monster of Montrose". Denver Post. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  26. ^ Heidelberg, Katharhynn. "Council inks $10M loan agreement". Montrose Daily Press. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  27. ^[bare URL]
  28. ^ GOCO grant award
  29. ^ Lindberg, Matt. "New view on the rec center". Montrose Daily Press. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  30. ^ "Montrose Urban Renewal Authority". Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  31. ^ "MURA, Storm King Projects Earn Governor's Awards". Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  32. ^ "Gov. Polis Releases Rural Economic Blueprint | Colorado Governor Jared Polis". Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  33. ^ McCain, Augusta. "Governor Polis reveals rural economic blueprint". Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  34. ^ "Chocolate-Maker Russell Stover Is Closing Its Montrose Plant And Taking 400 Jobs With It".
  35. ^ "Russell Stover Announces Updates to Production, Retail and Distribution Network" (PDF).
  36. ^ "Construction to Begin on Uncompahgre River Improvement Project". Retrieved 2020-10-21.
  37. ^ Armijo, Patrick. "Delta and Montrose counties elevate their internet game". Durango Herald. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  38. ^ "Montrose Public Bus". All Points Transit. 16 March 2018.
  39. ^ "Bustang Schedule". RideBustang. CDOT.
  40. ^ "Then came Bronson". Montrose Daily Press. Wick Communications. 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2014-01-02.