Southwest Colorado is one of the state’s major tourist areas, with everything from great skiing to significant historical sites. Towns and cities in Southwest Colorado include Gunnison, Delta, Montrose, Dolores, Cortez, Mancos, Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, Pagosa Springs, and more; the area also includes the state’s Ute Indian reservations.
There are many things to do in Southwest Colorado. The region is home to Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado’s only World Heritage Site (and one of only a few in North America). Mesa Verde is a major Indian cliff dwelling site occupied nearly one thousand years ago. While you’re there, you can also visit the four corners and stand in four states at one time. Southwest Colorado’s other major feature is the San Juan Mountains, which include some of Colorado’s most majestic peaks. Be sure to ride the Durango & Silverton train while you’re there.
Another scenic area is the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and river rafting are popular outdoor activities in Southwest Colorado, depending on what time of year you plan to visit. There are several State Parks where you can enjoy these activities: Navajo (good for boating); Mancos (good for fishing); Lone Mesa (lots of wildlife); Ridgway (known for its campgrounds); Sweitzer Lake (fishing, boating, swimming, water skiing); and Crawford (great views, near Black Canyon of the Gunnison).
The state’s official tourism site, Colorado.com, has put together an excellent list of attractions for Southwest Colorado – be sure to check this site if you’re planning a trip there. And while you’re visiting the area, be sure to travel along some of the region’s gorgeous byways.
If you’re interested in more about the area, our library has many publications on a variety of topics regarding Southwest Colorado. Some of these include
- Upper San Juan Basin Biological Assessment
- Climate Summary: Southwest Colorado
- Southwest Colorado Prehistoric Context
- The Economy of South West Colorado
- Big Game Hunting in Southwest Colorado
- Winter Tourism and Land Development in Gunnison, Colorado
- Western Slope Trails Guide
- The Ute Indian Museum: A Capsule History and Guide
- The Four Corners Sustainable Forests Partnership
- Points, Pithouses and Pioneers: Tracing Durango’s Archaeological Past
- The Western San Juan Mountains: Their Geology, Ecology, and Human History
- Mesa Verde National Park: Shadows of the Centuries
- The Anasazi of Mesa Verde and the Four Corners
- Southern Ute Lands, 1848-1899: The Creation of a Reservation
You can also search our web catalog for more publications. The easiest way to search is to use the term “southwest” or to search by one of the towns listed above. For information on the geology of the region, search by county name. We have many geological maps for all parts of the state.
- How to Spot the Differences Between Eagles and Hawks - August 16, 2021
- How Transportation Projects Help Tell the Story of Colorado’s Past - August 9, 2021
- Time Machine Tuesday: The Night the Castlewood Canyon Dam Gave Way - August 3, 2021