The 10 Best Things to Do in Cortez, United States

July 26, 2017 Myesha Cogley

The City of Cortez is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Montezuma County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 8,482 at the 2010 United States Census.
Restaurants in Cortez

1. The Anasazi Heritage Center

27501 Highway 184, Dolores, CO 81323-9217 +1 970-882-5600
Excellent
82%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 244 reviews

The Anasazi Heritage Center

Southwest Colorado's premier archaeological museum, featuring the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi) and other Native American cultures, including two archaeological sites and a research collection of over 3 million artifacts.

Reviewed By Erin B - Sarnia, Canada

$3 entry per adult to enter. Small number at artifacts but all great quality. Good information about the archaeology of the area. The volunteer was very friendly and provided us with great information about other sites to visit in the area. The walk up to the ruins was an easy slope and paved. Beautiful ruins to see. Also a great view of the river. Few picnic tables near the parking lot.

2. Hovenweep National Monument

County Road 268A, Cortez, CO 84534 +1 970-562-4282
Excellent
67%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 541 reviews

Hovenweep National Monument

Located in Utah but near Cortez, this site has six ruin sites all built around 1200 AD. Hovenweep is 42 miles from Cortez, CO and approximately 48 from Blanding, UT

Reviewed By Dmarkwind - Kansas City, Missouri

The name of this place is a Ute word meaning “deserted valley.” This seems appropriate since the Ancestral Puebloans who built the ruined structures here are believed to have left this lonely desert high country in the late 1,200s. Even though it seemed a long way out of our way, I’m glad we visited. We were rushed on our way to Mesa Verde and didn’t give ourselves enough time to explore this monument very well. In all, the monument encompasses six groups of villages left behind by those ancient Puebloans, but we only visited one; the Square Tower ruins, which is only a short walk from the monument’s visitors center. Inside the visitors center are a few exhibits on the Puebloans, photos of local wildlife, and a small gift shop. The rim trail is only a half mile long and takes visitors past surface and cliff dwellings, kivas, rock art, and examples of four types of towers: square, oval, D-shaped, and round. Apparently, western rattlesnakes are common enough here that they’ve posted multiple warning signs about them throughout the trail area. Other ruins at Hovenweep include: the Holly Ruins, Horseshoe and Hackberry Ruins, Cutthroat Canyon Ruins, and Cajon Ruins. All of the ruins here are mostly unexcavated. My understanding is that these other ruins aren’t signed, so to visit them, you’d need a map and directions from a park ranger, as well as more time than we had.

3. Colorado Welcome Center

928 E Main St, Cortez, CO 81321-3325 +1 970-565-4048
Excellent
73%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 212 reviews

Colorado Welcome Center

Reviewed By AeneasAtSea - Salt Lake City, Utah

This is a great little information center, museum, souvenir shop. Very helpful and friendly staff. And if you're staying in Cortez and/or going to Mesa Verde from the west, stopping here to buy your tour tickets will get you a head start since they sell out fast and can only be bought here, and at the main park visitors center and Chapin Mesa museum.

4. Rio Grande Southern Railroad Museum.

421 Railroad Avenue,, Dolores, CO 81323 +1 970-882-7082
Excellent
60%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 30 reviews

Rio Grande Southern Railroad Museum.

Reviewed By Ducky18969

A nice informative free museum right in the center of the town of Dolores, Colorado. Learn about the Galloping Goose rail service that brought mail and supplies to the miners and explorers in the area. Ask questions and learn from informed railroad enthusiasts at the museum. On special days take a "short" ride on Galloping Goose which stands on the train tracks outside the museum.

5. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

27501 Hwy 184, Cortez, CO +1 970-882-5600
Excellent
65%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 188 reviews

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Reviewed By CathyP1953 - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

We enjoyed riding around the beautiful area. Temperature was perfect for our visit. We stopped many times to look at the various scenery offered by this beautiful site. We had never heard of this park before coming upon it in Cortez. We immediately saw a sign for Hovenweep Ruins and followed the directions to there. The high desert landscape is incredible but just remember to fill up your gas tank-the area is quite isolated..but beautiful!!!!

6. Long House

Wetherill Mesa Info Kiosk, Mesa Verde National Park, CO
Excellent
90%
Good
9%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 201 reviews

Long House

Reviewed By Richard W - Duncanville, Texas

This is one of the big four cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, along with Cliff Palace, Balconty House and Spruce Tree House. (Spruce Tree house is closed while the park service tries to come up with a way to stabilize the cliff over the site) This is the largest site, and less visited than the others. This one is located on Wetherell mesa, well away from the more commonly visited site, and it requires a bit of a hike to get to the site. This is a beautiful cliff dwelling however, and the small tour groups allows you to see the site a in much greater depth than the others. The mesa it's located on is also home to Step House, a smaller cliff dwelling, and numerous mesa top sites, making it well worth the drive.

7. Dolores River Canyon

Cortez, CO
Excellent
79%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
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Overall Ratings

5 based on 57 reviews

Dolores River Canyon

The 105-mile stretch of the Dolores River and its surrounding 26,000-acre wilderness area is popular for a variety of outdoor activities.

Reviewed By tamu2628 - Las Cruces, New Mexico

One of the most beautiful drive in the Four Corners. We drove from Cortez to Telluride, stopped briefly in Dolores for lunch, visited the Anasazi Cultural Museum, passed through narrow canyons and snow covered mountains. The various topography provided ample photographic opportunities for nature lovers.

8. Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center

Montezuma County, Mesa Verde National Park, CO +1 970-529-4465
Excellent
77%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 179 reviews

Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center

Reviewed By Dmarkwind - Kansas City, Missouri

This visitors center was added since the last time we were here (it opened in December 2012). It’s big and modern, and I appreciate the LEED certification for energy efficiency. It’s a nice place close to the park entrance with exhibits, information, and a nice gift shop. I like that you no longer have to drive over to Spruce Canyon 20 miles on the other side of the park to see if there’s room in pueblo tours. You now book tickets for Cliff Palace, Balcony House, or Long House here. Unfortunately, we got here too late to book the Long House tour we had hoped for. Exhibits at the center are meant to help visitors plan their park visit and offer glimpses into the daily life of the Ancestral Puebloan culture. Other exhibits highlight the building’s energy-saving and sustainability features; the modern descendants of the Ancestral Puebloans; and the park’s museum and research collection. Which reminds me that while this new museum is interesting, the old-school Chapin Mesa Museum over at Spruce Canyon contains a lot of information and is not to be missed. One other element of the Visitors Center I want to mention is the art. Out front, there’s an awesome sculpture of a climber, while inside, there are several original sculptures. So while this park commemorates an ancient way of life, the perspectives of modern artists on the people and landscapes of Mesa Verde are also reflected.

9. Cortez Cultural Center

25 N Market St, Cortez, CO 81321-3212 +1 970-565-1151
Excellent
62%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
0%
Terrible
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Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 83 reviews

Cortez Cultural Center

Cultural center that includes interpretive exhibits on Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi) by the University of Colorado, local history, works by local artists, and gift shop featuring items made by local and native artisans. Free Native American dance performances Wednesday through Saturday evenings in the summer months.

Reviewed By Bozenaclay - Wimberley

Picture on building is a great mural with incredible 3D visual image. That just open for longer summer hrs when we came through which was nice to go visit after your busy day outside. Very nice exhibits of local art and Indian culture. They also...MoreThanks for the review! We're glad you got to admire Buford Wayt's mural.

10. Spruce Tree House

Mesa Verde National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, CO +1 970-529-4465
Excellent
75%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 549 reviews

Spruce Tree House

Reviewed By stinkwink - Sydney, Australia

In 2015 Spruce Tree House was closed for the public, because of rock falls.The loose material was removed but the concerns of other rockfall remained, so Spruce Tree House the third biggest dwelling in Mesa Verde still closed. However behind the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum is a viewing platform, from where Spruce Tree House can be seen. For awhile we have to be happy with this possibility. As long as there is no solution to the reinforcement of the unstable rock, we can only admire this 800-year-old cliff dwelling from a distance.

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