Gateway sits next to the Dolores River at the beginning of two canyons, Unaweep Canyon, which cuts into the Uncompahgre Plateau to the northeast, and the Dolores River Gorge, which passes between great mesas to the southeast. Coming from the northwest, travelers would see these great canyons opening up before them, however as the highways ended up being built, travelers come to Gateway by one canyon and leave by the other one on Colorado Highway 141. A dirt road follows the Dolores River to the northwest, but sees little traffic.
The area around Gateway is an area of great scenic beauty and is a remote wilderness far from population centers. The Dolores River Gorge is walled in by thousand-foot redrock cliffs, while Unaweep Canyon passes through alpine meadows and granite cliffs. The Uncompahgre Plauteau reaches to nearly 10,000 feet in elevation, and is covered with forests of pine and aspen. Highway 141 is the only paved road in this area and a labyrinth of dirt roads access the remote areas.
Gateway was settled in the 1800s by ranchers who run cattle in the surrounding higher elevations during the summer, and bring them to the shelter of the canyons during the winter. During the mid-1900s, it became a mining center, as uranium was in demand for nuclear energy and weapons. Uranium is found in deposits among the cliffs in a yellow powder called carnotite. The demand for uranium dropped off before the end of the 1900s, and the mining activity is all a thing of the past now.
The Dolores River is a major river of Colorado which begins in the southwest corner and makes a seemingly unlikely passage northward through cliffs and mountains to reach Gateway. From here it bends to the west, passing into Utah, and flows into the Colorado River. West Creek flows out of Unaweep Canyon to join the Dolores River at Gateway. Unaweep Canyon is said to be the only canyon in the world with a drainage divide in the middle of it. From this divide, East Creek flows to the east, and West Creek flows to the west.
Tourism has become a mainstay of Gateway in modern times, with the flashy Gateway Canyon Resort attracting many visitors to enjoy this rugged getaway.
For More Information:
See Wikipedia, Gateway, Colorado.
Gateway Center Drive
John Brown Road
State Highway 141