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USA Pro Challenge host city, Montrose: facts and fables

February 20, 2012

San Juan Mountains, view from Ridgeway just south of Montrose (photo by Mary Topping)

Montrose’s allure hinges on its location in the Uncompahgre Valley. Its place in southwestern Colorado gifts the city with rich Ute Native American history, abundant agriculture and consumables, and breath-taking nearby scenery and towns. Montrose will host the start of stage 2 of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge on August 21st.

Pomona, Dad’s Town, and Uncompahgre Town all stood-in as names for the city before it became Montrose after the name of a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, The Legend of Montrose.

Ute Native American influence

The Ute Native Americans lived for hundreds of years in the areas of the Uncompahgre Valley and Plateau. “Uncompahgre” is a Ute word with several translations, including hot springs, red lake, and the place where water makes the rocks red.

One of Montrose’s treasures is the Ute Indian Museum. Situated on the original 8.65 acre homestead of Chief Ouray and his wife, Chipeta, the museum is said to showcase “one of the most complete collections of Ute Indian artifacts.” The grounds also include Chipeta’s crypt as well as a native plants garden. According to one blogger, visitors claim to have seen Chipeta wandering the museum grounds, and to have heard the sound of drumbeats echo in a rear exhibit room even though the ceremonial drum in that room rests under glass.

Friends, near Ridgway, Colorado (photo by Mary Topping)

Agriculture and consumables (beer, actually)

Thanks to irrigation provided by the Gunnison River via the Gunnison Tunnel, agriculture occupies an important place around Montrose. At the time of the race you should find farm stands along Highway 50 full of corn from Olathe, fresh cut that day.

Race fans might appreciate the result of harvesting another sort of grain: local beer.

  • In town, the Horsefly Brewing Company offers a selection of micro-brews.  If you get to Montrose on Monday night, that’s $1 taco night at the Horsefly.
  • About a 30 minute drive south of Montrose – and on the way from Telluride to Montrose if you come via the Dallas Divide and Highway 62, Colorado Boy serves its ales in a pub in downtown Ridgway. Colorado Boy says it sources all of its electricity from wind power and its hot water from solar collectors on the roof. Local cattle (Ridgway is ranching territory) feed on the grain and yeast left over from the brewing process. The brewery’s Irish Ale won a bronze medal at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival. The pub is closed on Mondays, but perhaps Colorado Boy will make an exception on August 20th.

Breath-taking scenery and towns

Pick a direction – from the Grand Mesa to the north, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison to the east, the town of Ouray (whose nickname is the Switzerland of America) to the south, and the Uncompahgre National Forest to the west, it’s all stunning.

View of Main Street in Ouray, looking north (photo by Mary Topping)

See also:

USA Pro Cycling Challenge host city, Durango: facts and fables

USA Pro Cycling Challenge host city, Telluride: facts and fables

USA Pro Cycling Challenge host city, Mount / Crested Butte: facts and fables

USA Pro Cycling Challenge host city, Gunnison: facts and fables

USA Pro Cycling Challenge host city, Aspen: facts and fables

USA Pro Cycling Challenge host city, Beaver Creek: facts and fables

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