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Our Communities
About Ouray
Ouray Activities
Questions? Contact:

Crissy Supples
Rural Philanthropy Days Program Manager

T: 719-530-2651

Leah Rausch
Program Assistant
T: 303-623-1540 x 170

Our Communities

In a region of ancient geographic diversity and modern social transition, the seven counties that make up the Western Slope region share remarkable landscapes of mountains, high desert, mesas, and river valleys. Ranches and farmland line the countryside, and public lands occupy over 50 percent of the landmass. Cattle ranches, open range, and hay fields now intermix with organic farms, orchards, and vineyards, and yet the availability of the precious runoff of water from the high country is what defines and allows humans to grow their crops and graze their livestock.

The Western Slope Region is situated on the western side of  Colorado's Rocky Mountains. To learn more about each community, click on each county name below.

Mesa County Delta County Gunnison County Hinsdale County Ouray County Montrose County San Miguel County

The emergence of mining in the region originally brought many settlers from the East. Today, coal, oil, and gas remain active industries in Mesa, Delta, and Gunnison counties, though the mines have given way to ski resorts and vacation getaways in areas such as Telluride, Ouray, and Crested Butte.

Recreational activities are now a significant part of the Western Slope lifestyle. In winter months, higher elevations become winter playgrounds for downhill and Nordic skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and sled dog racing. Warmer months offer fantastic hiking trails, rock climbing, and ample opportunities for road and mountain biking. The public and private lands full of rivers and mountains that supply habitation for wildlife also provide prime hunting and fishing areas.

The Western Slope has attracted people from all over the globe, yet has deep historic roots in Native American cultures and those of the early settlers of the “wild” West. Among others, today’s population is made up of descendants of cowboys, children of hippies, and retirees seeking a quiet, rural lifestyle. The region continues to grow even in a tenuous economy.

Traditional lifestyles and modern influences contribute to the challenges the communities of the Western Slope face: The pioneer attitude of the “rugged individualist” lives on; small business owners, contractors, artists, farmers, and ranchers seek to preserve their independence; retirees wish to get away from the stresses of urban life. But one of the common threads is that all wish a comfortable lifestyle and a reasonable quality of life. As urban centers like Grand Junction and Montrose grow, the challenges of urban life grow with them – poverty, crime, and drug use are all on the rise.

The nonprofit sector plays a strong role in maintaining the balance of tradition and modernity. Over 1,200 nonprofit organizations in the Western Slope region address issues such as:     

  • preservation of the historical Western heritage

  • land conservation
  • youth education and recreation
  • adult literacy            
  • senior meals and activities            
  • hospice            
  • physical and mental health            
  • support of local farms and small businesses            
  • support of libraries and schools            
  • community development, and more.

While the seven counties of the Western Slope share many similarities, each also has unique circumstances and needs. In these pages, you will find characteristics and summary data of the counties, giving you facts, images, and a feeling for the counties of the Western Slope.