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Colorado > Southwest Region
Destination Locator: (33 options)

Southwest Region

Creede Area- Creede is a colorful and historic mining town located on the Silver Thread National Scenic Byway. It is well-known for its repertory theater and is the beginning point of the Bachelor Historic Loop Tour.
Dolores Area- Various mining towns surround the area. The nearby Dolores River offers many rafting and kayaking opportunities and the area has a good access point for getting to the western part of the San Juan Mountains.
Dolores River- Many people say they leave a part of themselves on the river every time they experience the out-of-the-way Dolores. Located in the far southwest corner of the state, this is one of Colorado's best fisheries with horseshoe bends and a canyon section that is truly unique.
Durango Area- Durango is a popular year-round recreational area located in southwestern corner of the state. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Mesa Verde National Park bring many visitors to the area.
Gunnison Area- Gunnison is located in the southwestern section of Colorado. It is the namesake of Captain John W. Gunnison, a surveyor for the U.S. Geological Survey, who was killed after scouting the area in 1853.
Gunnison National Forest- The Gunnison National Forest encompasses part of Colorado's central mountains, around the towns of Gunnison and Crested Butte. The Gunnison, Grand Mesa and Uncompahgre National Forests are administratively combined.
Mesa Verde National Park- Mesa Verde National Park, in the southwestern corner of Colorado, is home to evidence of ancient civilizations. It is the only National Park dedicated to the works of prehistoric man.
Montrose Area- Montrose lies in the fertile Uncompahgre River Valley. This area was once used by Ute Indians for farming and hunting. Today it serves the many ranchers and recreationists that use the surrounding terrain.
San Juan National Forest- The San Juan National Forest reaches from the semiarid deserts in southwestern Colorado deep into the San Juan Mountains of south central Colorado.
Telluride Area- The small ski town (population 1,400) of Telluride began as a supply town for area silver mines during the 1870s. It's bloomed into a destination resort with world class recreation opportunities.
Uncompahgre National Forest- The Uncompahgre National Forest lies in western and southwest Colorado, around the towns of Montrose, Ouray, Telluride and Norwood. The Gunnison, Grand Mesa and Uncompahgre National Forests are administratively combined.

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General Information

Description - This region lies south of the Elk Mountains and Grand Mesa and west of the Continental Divide. It includes spectacular mountains, and varied terrain that supports recreation activities of many types and all skill levels.

Attractions - This region includes some of the most spectacular scenery in Colorado. The terrain in this area of Colorado ranges from deep canyons to high mountains. The high Colorado Plateau, along the Utah-Colorado border, includes deep canyons in a semiarid desert. Natural and human history of the area is highlighted in Colorado National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park.

Moving east into the mountains recreation enthusiasts will enjoy the public lands of Grand Mesa National Forest, Uncompahgre National Forest, San Juan National Forest and the Rio Grand National Forest. Other nationally maintained areas include the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument, Curecanti National Recreation Area, Uncompahgre Wilderness, La Garita Wilderness, Lizard Head Wilderness and Weminuche Wilderness.

For a more controlled commune with nature, the ski resorts of Telluride and Wolf Creek are open with lift service from November to April. Telluride provides world-class skiing and accommodations; while Wolf Creek boasts the deepest powder in the state.

Recreation - Recreation seekers will find outstanding venues for a vast amount of activities. The mountains and high plateaus of this region support hiking, mountain biking, fishing, backpacking, skiing, scenic driving, road biking and four-wheel driving.

Climate - The western third of the South Western Travel Region is a semiarid desert. The days are warm and dry with cool nights. The high-elevation (3,500 feet to 7,000 feet) of this area causes winter temperatures from November through April. The summer heat can be extreme in this region.

The eastern portions of this area are mountainous. Winter brings extreme weather with several feet of snow. Elevations reach 14,000 feet, where conditions require warm clothing year-round. Summer temperatures in the mountains are very pleasant, rarely reaching above 85 degrees. Summer nights can be cool.

Sunscreen is a must in every season if you plan to be out in the elements. The high elevations place you closer to the sun and an easy victim of harmful ultraviolet rays. Temperatures can vary as much as 40 degrees in the same day. The best protection from extreme temperatures is several layers of clothing.

Location - This area extends south from the Elk Mountains and Grand Mesa and west from the Continental Divide. The Utah and New Mexico state borders form the western and southern boundaries of this area respectively.

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Additional Information:
Colorado Travel Regions -

San Juan National Forest - Official Forest Service website.


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