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About Montezuma County

Montezuma Valley lies at the center of Montezuma County. To the south, the cliffs of Mesa Verde overlook the valley, covered in juniper trees and dotted with the cliff-dwellings of prehistoric indians. Sleeping Ute Mountain rises to nearly 10,000 feet in elevation to the west, so named for its resemblance to a sleeping Indian. The valley floor is hilly and slopes generally upward toward the north. A wide gap between Mesa Verde and Sleeping Ute Mountain passes into the lower deserts to the south. At about 6,000 feet in elevation, Montezuma Valley enjoys adequate moisture, and is checkered with farms and dotted with trees.

Mesa Verde National Park sits atop cliffs where dozens of ruins left by prehistoric Indians have been discovered, including the famous Cliff Palace, where hundreds of Indians once lived under the shelter of a large overhanging cliff.

Along the western side of the county, north of Sleeping Ute Mountain, a series of steep-walled canyons has cut into the floor of the valley. The fields of farmers end abruptly at the edge of a drop that ends in a narrow canyon hundreds of feet below. This rugged area has been set aside as Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, and a number of Indian ruins here are protected in the older Hovenweep National Monument.

The diverse topography and geology of Montezuma County are remarkable. The flat top and angular corners of Mesa Verde make a stark contrast to the rounded slopes of Sleeping Ute Mountain. The large number of canyons cut into plateaus is surprising, both atop Mesa Verde and in the Canyons of the Ancients area. Rivers in the county also follow surprising courses. The Dolores River flows out of tall mountains to the east, and reaches the north side of Montezuma Valley. Then instead of taking the easy course down into the valley, it flows northward, cutting a deep gorge into the gradually rising plateau in its way. McElmo Creek, flowing past Cortez in Montezuma Valley, instead of following the valley's drop to the south, takes a sudden turn to the west, following a narrow canyon cut right at the feet of Sleeping Ute Mountain.

Montezuma County lies in the southwest corner of Colorado, sharing borders with Utah on the West and New Mexico on the south. It sits kitty-corner from Arizona, and the Four Corners Monument was built to mark the only spot in the United States where four states touch at one point. 23,830 people now inhabit the 2,037 square miles of the county. Cortez is the county seat and largest city. U.S. Highway 160 crosses the county east to west, and U.S. Highway 491 heads north and south.

Street Index

a dirt road
a road
Indian Route 201
McElmo Canyon Road
Mike Wash Road
Navajo Springs
Road 15
Road 17
Road 18
Road 19
Road 20
Road 21
Road 22.6
Road 22.9
Road 22
Road 23
Road 24
Road 25
Road 29
Road 31
Road 32
Road 33.75
Road 33
Road 33.25
Road 34
Road AA
Road A
Road BB
Road B
Road C.1
Road C
Road D.6
Road DD
Road D
Road EE
Road E
Road F
Road K.7
Road L
Road M
Road M.75
Road N
Road P
Road S
Road U
Road V
Road W
Road X
Road Y
Road Z
San Juan River
San Juan Turn
State Highway 184
State Highway 41
Sunrise Drive
U.S. Highway 160
U.S. Highway 491
U.S. Highways 160 & 491

In Montezuma County:

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