Location and History
Cortez, the County seat of Montezuma County, is located in the southwest corner of Colorado near the Four Corners where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet. Cortez rests in that border area between mountains and desert. In 45 minutes, you can be in the rugged La Plata mountains at 10,000+ ft or the San Juan’s at 13,000+ ft or in the desert canyons of southeast Utah. It is a unique area distinguished by its awe-inspiring scenery and rich ancient history background. And if you love the outdoors, 76% of Montezuma County is public land with numerous hiking, biking, horse, and OHV trails.
It is within easy driving distance of several major cities, including Denver (382 miles), Albuquerque (275 miles), Salt Lake City (350 miles) and Phoenix (410 miles). In addition, National Parks and Monuments lie within a short drive; Mesa Verde National Park (15 miles), Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (12 miles), Hovenweep National Monument (45 miles), Yucca House National Monument (31 miles), Natural Bridges National Monument (101 miles), Arches National Park (120 miles).
This is a rich archeological area. Over 14,000 Ancestral Puebloan sites are recorded in Montezuma County. The Ancestral Pueblo are the ancestors of the descendant Pueblo Peoples who now reside in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas and lived in the Four Corners region from about 300 BCE to 1300 CE. Montezuma County is home to Crow Canyon Archeological Center, Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep National Monument, Yucca House National Monument and Canyon of the Ancients National Monument.
Cortez probably has one of the largest park systems for a community of its size (8,855 population) in the country with over 250 acres of parks and open space, not including the 160-acre golf course. The parks include an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, pickle ball courts, soccer fields, baseball fields, softball fields, BMX track, skateboard park, 18-hole golf course, duck ponds, fishing ponds, mountain bike trails, hiking trails, picnic areas and a 42,000 sq. ft a recreation center with indoor pool and racquet ball courts.
The Public Library is located in a corner of one of the parks. Along with the parks are youth programs in baseball, football, soccer, BMX, tennis and a healthy 4H and junior rodeo program.
Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, horseback riding is all in abundance, with miles and miles of trails within an hour of Cortez. Best of all you can hike or fish all day and may not see another soul. If you don’t want to travel that far there are the trails at Hawkins Preserve, Carpenter Natural Area, Geer Natural Area right in town and miles of paved walks in the parks in Cortez.
With 76% of Montezuma County in public lands, there is plenty of open space for backpacking and camping, with 10 developed designated campgrounds. If you love the outdoors and getting out on your own, you can’t miss the San Juan National Forest which is at your doorstep, as is the Bureau of Land Management's public lands in the great desert of the southwest.
The Cortez area is known for its numerous mountain biking opportunities. Phil’s World (28 miles of trails), the Four Corner’s worst kept secret, is just outside of Cortez and is known for the “Rib Cage” circuit that’s fast, fun and will make you whoop and holler with joy. There’re also the timbered forest trails through Boggy Draw which is 20 minutes from town, not to mention all of the open public lands to ride through. Kokopelli Bike and Board maintains a local trail map update, check it out.
Dolores River Drainage & McPhee Reservoir
There are 295 stream miles of self-sustaining trout habitat in the Dolores River Drainage contained in 46 streams containing cutthroat, cut bow, rainbow, brown, brook and kokanee. Best of all, you can go fishing in these streams and have the water to yourself all day long. McPhee Reservoir, second largest reservoir in Colorado, is 12 miles from town and is well known for its smallmouth bass fishery and can be fished for rainbow, black crappie, and kokanee.
Telluride – 90 minutes from Cortez and has 125 trails, 18 lifts, and 2000+ acres of terrain.
Durango Mountain Resort – is 90 minutes from Cortez and has 102 trails, 12 lifts and 1,635 acres of terrain.
Ski Hesperus – is 35 minutes from Cortez and has 26 trails and is the largest night skiing operation in the southwest.
Chicken Creek Nordic Ski Area – is 28 minutes from Cortez and has 5.6 miles of double track and skate lanes and 5.1 miles of single track in various loops and spurs.
Choice of Schools
Montezuma RE-1 School District
Dolores RE-4A School District
Mancos RE-6 School District
Cortez Municipal Airport
The airport rests at 5,914’ and provides Commercial and General Aviation services 7 days a week. It is serviced by Denver Air Connection to Denver International Airport and Phoenix Sky-Harbor International Airport and has interline agreements with both United and American Airlines.
Cortez is home to Southwest Memorial Hospital and Southwest Health Systems. It is a 25-bed critical access hospital offering the latest in medical and surgical technology, 24/7 emergency care and much more.
- Average Number of Days of Sunshine: 300+
- Average High/Low Temps for Winter: 42/15 (Jan)
- Average High/Low Temps for Summer: 85/50 (July)
- Average Snowy Days: 23 (Usually off the roads by afternoon)
- Average Humidity: Minimal
- Average Annual Precipitation: 13”
- Elevation: 6,191’
Do you need broadband? Cortez has many options from 6Mbps to 1000Mbps and numerous vendor options.
- Farmers Telephone
- Velocity Net
The Cortez area has something for everyone when it comes to local events. From the Four States Ag Expo to Native American Dances, Ute Mountain Rodeo, July 4th Fireworks in Parque de Vida, and Third Thursdays in Montezuma Park. The list goes on with over 43 events during the year. And that list doesn’t include the SW Colorado Concert Series or the KSJD/Sunflower Theater Events. Check out the Cortez Retail Enhancement Association’s Calendar of Local Events. In the summer, there is usually one or two local events every weekend in Montezuma County. Take a short jaunt to Dolores, 10 minutes away, for its River Fest or Mancos, 15 minutes away, for its Burro Fest. Yes, there many enjoyable options in the area.
Plan your trip to Cortez today. Visit the Mesa Verde Country Visitors website for even more information on our wonderful area and what it has to offer.