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Crissy Supples
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T: 303-623-1540 x 170

Montrose County

Montrose County

* Images 2 and 5 courtesy of Ouray Chamber Resort Association Kane Scheidegger

Montrose County is home to a population of 39,527 over 2,200 square miles in the Uncompaghre River and Paradox Valleys.

In 1883, Montrose County was formed as a result of the splitting of Gunnison County. From the beginning, the business of servicing the Ouray and Telluride mining districts developed as an important Montrose industry. The Dave Wood Transportation Line moved to Montrose and established a large freighting and transfer firm close to the railroad depot and provided for a ready market of food stuff, encouraging an increasing number of farmers and merchants to relocate to the county. Land had opened for settlement under the preemption act and access to water for domestic and irrigation use quickly became critical.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Bureau of Reclamation created a project to build the seven-mile-long Gunnison Tunnel, resulting in a source of irrigation water for the Uncompaghre Valley from the formerly inaccessible regions of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River. The project turned the valley into fertile growing lands for many types of agriculture, and President Howard Taft came to Montrose to dedicate the project in September of 1909.

Montrose County grew to become a thriving agricultural center and year-round recreation hub, housing the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and the Gunnison Gorge National Recreation and Wilderness Areas, and coming to serve as a transportation center for the San Juan Mountains. Largely comprised of National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park lands, the main cities and towns include Montrose, Naturita, Nucla, Olathe, and Paradox.


The 2006 census estimate for Montrose County indicated that the population was 38,559, a 15.3% increase since the 2000 census. In 2000 there were 13,043 households and 9,312 families residing in the county, and the population density was 15 people per square mile. There were 14,202 housing units, at an average density of six per square mile. The racial makeup of the county was 89.96% White, 0.31% Black or African American, 1.02% Native American, 0.42% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 5.74% from other races, and 2.49% from two or more races. 14.86% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race. In the county, the population was spread with 26.8% under the age of 18 and 15.2% aged 65 or older.


The median income for a household in the county was $35,234, and the median income for a family, $40,849. Males had a median income of $29,945 compared to $21,423 for females; the per capita income for the county was $17,158. About 8.90% of families and 12.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.50% of those under age 18 and 9.80% over 65.

Health & Emergency Services  

Montrose Memorial Hospital was established by the Montrose County Commissioners in 1949. Today it operates as a beautiful, modern, 75-bed Regional Medical Center. Located in the City of Montrose, MMH provides a full range of medical services to meet the county’s’ healthcare needs.

Montrose County has many programs that promote the health and well-being of individuals and the community. These programs include:

  • Children With Special Health Care Needs
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Environmental Health
  • Family Planning
  • Food Service
  • Grant programs that focus on prevention and early intervention of disease
  • Healthy Steps
  • Immunizations
  • Nurse Family Partnership for new mothers
  • Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program
  • Women’s Wellness Connection

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