Cortez, located in the southwestern portion of Colorado, has been called a “Gateway” to many things. One is a Gateway to Canyon Country, well named because of its close proximity to the Canyonlands of southern Utah. Another is the Gateway to Mesa Verde. It lies only fifteen or so miles from the entrance to this unique National Park. The rugged La Plata and San Juan Mountain Ranges, plainly visible from town, also makes Cortez the Gateway to the Mountains. Cortez, Colorado rests on that imaginary border between mountain and desert, close enough for high elevation views, but low enough to experience the arid environment of the high desert. It is a unique area distinguished by its awe inspiring scenery and rich ancient history background.
Cortez, is located in the far southwestern corner of Colorado in the area referred to as the Four Corners Area, being the point where Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet. It is within easy driving distance of several cities, including Denver (382 miles), Albuquerque (275 miles), Salt Lake City (350 miles), Santa Fe (286 miles), and Phoenix (410 miles).
Population / Elevation
Cortez, Colorado is a small town, with only a little over 8,000 people. It is located in the county of Montezuma, whose population is about 25,000. It rests on the fringe of the desert at an altitude of around 6200 feet. The ethnic diversity is approximately 80% White, 9% Hispanic, and 12% Native American.
Weather / Climate
Cortez, Colorado has a wonderfully dry climate with generally mild temperatures for a desert area.
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 Humidity Minimal
Average Annual Precipitation 13"
The earliest peoples in the Cortez area were nomads who lived by hunting game and gathering food plants as far back as 10,000 BC. More recently, from roughly AD 1 to AD 1300, the Ancestral Puebloans developed a fantastic civilization throughout the four corners region. Their network of thriving cities in the cliffs of Mesa Verde and the thousands of sites throughout the region left a rich collection of ruins and artifacts. This is a rich archaeological area. Many sites are open to the public, and are parks and monuments. Local museums and institutions also provide facilities for exploration of the cultural mysteries of the ancient peoples.
Things to Do
The area is well known for its tremendous archaeological resources, the most famous of which are in Mesa Verde National Park, Crow Canyon Archeological Center, the Anasazi Heritage Center and others. These treasures have been recognized worldwide for unique ruins and artifacts left by early man and hints of spectacular cultural mysteries. The area includes the eastern edges of the high desert Colorado Plateau and rises to include the fourteen thousand foot peaks of the San Juan and La Plata Mountain ranges.
The Dolores River flows through the county on its way to join the Colorado River providing rafting, kayaking, and world class fishing opportunities as well as a water source for McPhee Reservoir, the second largest body of water in the state. The large areas of public lands in the surrounding counties of Montezuma, Dolores, La Plata, San Juan and San Miguel provide ample opportunities for hunting and fishing.http://secure.rezserver.com/cities/7485-800047121
For information local hotels and motels click here.
Resources & Nearby Attractions
Recreation opportunities abound in Montezuma County. With over 160 acres in parks, Cortez probably has one of the largest park systems for a community of its size in the country. The parks include a swimming pool, an abundance of tennis courts, soccer fields, bmx and skateboard tracks, and ball fields as well as duck filled ponds and picnic areas. The library is located in a corner of one of the parks.
In January, 2004, Cortez opened the new $7.5 million recreation center with a broad range of facilities. Not included in the 160 acres of parks is the City of Cortez owned 18 hole golf course and significant open space areas.
Other nearby areas of interest include:
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Cortez Cultural Center
Hovenweep National Monument
Mesa Verde National Park
Ute Mountain Tribal Park.
there are a large number of archaeological sites available for observation. There
are an abundance of public lands for both summer and winter enjoyment including
portions of the San Juan National Forest. Within two hours driving time are the
well-known recreation areas of Durango, Telluride, Moab and Monument Valley.
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