- Cortez is the service center for one of the richest archaeological areas in the United States. The semi arid desert country that surrounds Cortez harbors countless sites of Ancestral Pueblo settlement. Museums and cultural centers in and around Cortez attempt to dispel the myths of the ancient people that cultivated then abandoned the region several hundred years ago. A few of those centers include Hovenweep National Monument, Anasazi Heritage Center, Cortez Colorado University Center and Museum, Lowry Pueblo Ruins and the Ute Mountain Tribal Park.
Copyright: National Park Service
Hovenweep National Monument
Among the archaeological interests visitors will find many recreation opportunities. Some of the local venues include McPhee Reservoir, Cortez City Park, McElmo Canyon and Ute Mountain. To discover more about the region visit the Colorado Welcome Center at Cortez next to Cortez City Park.
Recreation - Visitors to Cortez have easy access to a plethora of Ancestral Pueblo sites, as well as a host of other activities including: scenic driving, hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, boating, fishing and camping.
Climate - In the summer, daytime temperatures range from 85 to 100 degrees, dropping to 55 to 65 degrees at night. In the winter months, the temperatures may reach a high of 50 degrees. Average precipitation is about 18 inches annually. Summer temperatures can be extreme in this region. Very little cover exists, due to the dry climate, expect to be exposed to the elements in every recreation opportunity. Recreationists should bring plenty of water when exerting themselves.
Cortez is located in southwestern Colorado, and can be reached from Durango via U.S. 160. Highways 666 and 160 join immediately west of Cortez, and lead in a southwesterly direction. The town site is surrounded by canyons including Crow Canyon, Hartman Canyon and McElmo Canyon, which lie to the west. The southwestern border of the San Juan National Forest lies northeast of Cortez and the Ute Mountain Indian lands are located south of town.