Begin in Montrose and head east on CO 50 to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park’s popular South Rim. See its 2-billion-year-old black-rock cliffs and the enormity of its depths. The sheer, marbled walls of the canyon are among Colorado’s most distinctive natural landmarks.
Hop aboard the Morrow Point Boat tour for a tranquil glimpse of the canyon and other geologic wonders. Or rent mountain bikes to explore the trails on Uncompahgre Plateau, one of the area’s best-kept secrets.
To see the canyon from the bottom up, take a drive along East Portal Road. The route has a 16 percent grade and is filled with hairpin turns.
Head back to Montrose and stop at the visitor center to pick up a Historic Walking Tour brochure for an architectural journey through Montrose’s history. Visit The Ute Indian Museum which sits on a homestead once belonging to Ute Chief Ouray and his wife Chipeta, and features exhibits and classes about the area’s native people. At the Montrose County Historical Museum, walk through the doors of the former Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Depot to learn about early pioneer, homestead, farming, and ranch life. Check out the Museum of the Mountain West, which displays more than 500,000 Old West artifacts. Montrose is also a great home base for accessing many of southwest Colorado’s scenic and historic byways.
Travel north to Delta, which sits at the confluence of the Gunnison and Uncompahgre Rivers, and then on to explore the nearby agriculture-centric towns at the base of Colorado’s beautiful Grand Mesa. To the east are Crawford, Hotchkiss and Paonia, all of which are stops along the West Elk Loop Scenic and Historic Byway. And to the north sit Cedaredge and Eckert.