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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, Colorado is located in the United States
Montrose, Colorado
Montrose, Colorado
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  Colorado
County Montrose County
City Montrose
Incorporated May 1, 1882
 • Type Home rule municipality
 • Total 18.45 sq mi (47.78 km2)
 • Land 18.45 sq mi (47.78 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
5,807 ft (1,770 m)
 • Total 20,291
 • Density 1,102.8/sq mi (425.8/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (MST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
ZIP codes
81401, 81402 (PO Box), 81403
Area code(s) 970
FIPS code 08-51745
GNIS feature ID 203328
Website City of Montrose

Montrose is a home rule municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Montrose County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 20,291 at the 2020 United States Census and a total area of 18.4 square miles. 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. 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.

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

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.

Early in the area's history, prehistoric people lived in the vicinity and left rock art panels at the Shavano Valley Rock Art Site from 1000 BC or earlier until about AD 1881. The panels recorded cultural events and were a means of artistic expression. The site is listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties and the National Register of Historic Places.

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 11.5 square miles (30 km2); all of it is land.

Montrose is in the south end of the Uncompahgre valley, and is built on the Uncompahgre river. It is surrounded by, to the north, Grand Mesa, to the east, the Black Canyon, 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.


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
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.62
Snowfall inches (cm) 6.9


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 1,330
1900 1,217 −8.5%
1910 3,254 167.4%
1920 3,581 10.0%
1930 3,566 −0.4%
1940 4,764 33.6%
1950 4,964 4.2%
1960 5,044 1.6%
1970 6,496 28.8%
1980 8,722 34.3%
1990 8,854 1.5%
2000 12,344 39.4%
2010 19,132 55.0%
2020 20,291 6.1%
U.S. Decennial Census 2020

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). 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.

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.

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. The median gross rent was $936 per month, or nearly 30% lower than the State of Colorado and nearly 36% lower than neighboring Telluride.

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.

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. 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%.


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.


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. There are three lines that Montrose is part of Colorado's Bustang network. It is along the Durango-Grand Junction Outrider line.

Major highways

In popular culture

  • The 2011 video game Homefront is set mostly in Montrose, where a resistance movement in 2027 is defying Korean occupation in the U.S.
  • In the A&E reality show, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Montrose is featured in four episodes.
  • Scenes from the motion picture releases The Sheepman, How the West Was Won, and the original version of True Grit (1969 film) were filmed in Montrose and the surrounding area.
  • 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.


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. Additionally, Scott Fly Rods relocated to Montrose from Telluride in 1993. Gordon Composites, maker of nearly 90 percent of the high-performance laminate material used in the bow-hunting industry, is located in Montrose. Colorado Yurt Company, maker of handcrafted yurts, tipis and rugged canvas wall tents, is also located in Montrose.

The Montrose City Council 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.

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. However, the wave is on private property and is unsafe for inexperienced riders.

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 within the Colorado Outdoors development, and was the recipient of a $2 million grant for a new trail system. 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 to the project, safely under-passing both major highways within the City.

The Montrose Urban Renewal Authority (MURA), 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.

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.

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.

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.

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