Visiting the Area
Fishing, Boating, and Rafting around Dolores
The Dolores River
The Dolores River is widely-regarded as one of the most exciting and classic wild and scenic paddling experiences in the country, flowing 230 miles north from the Bear Mountains in Colorado within the the San Juan National Forest to high desert canyons walls peppered with ancient petroglyphs. On the lower Dolores, just past McPhee Dam, you can expect Class II-IV white water. The Dolores is best run May-June, but releases from McPhee can change. Check before you plan your trip- the Dolores River Boating Advocates keep track of and publish spill updates.
McPhee Reservoir, which stretches west from town, is the second largest lake in Colorado, and a favorite of fishers and boaters alike. What makes it so special? To date, over 4.5 million fish have been stocked in McPhee, so get your line in the water! Trout, bass, crappie, kokanee salmon, pan fish and catfish are all just waiting for your bait or lure In addition to McPhee. The reservoir feature a marina and many camping opportunities.
There are many other good area fishing holes to explore including Groundhog lake, Narraguinnep and Summit Reservoirs, the Dolores and West Fork Rivers and several creeks. Check with the sports and tackle shops for more details and access information.
Hiking, Biking, & Camping
You’re in the pines, at the edge of the mountains, poised and ready for hiking, fishing and exploring the spectacular Southwest. We have everything from cabins and campgrounds to historic hotels, bed and breakfast inns, motels and plenty of RV hookups. It’s your choice. There are private and public campgrounds, alongside a lake or high in the mountains.
After you’ve parked your RV or pitched your tent, it’s time to head for the trail. You can explore archaeology, mining and railroad antiquities, fish the high country, hike, mountain bike, go four wheeling or just plain relax. The air is clean, the forests are pure, and the only traffic jam you’ll run into is with squirrels and chipmunks.
National Parks and Monuments
Day trips are a breeze when you stay in Dolores. In addition to famous archaeological sites and geological wonders like Mesa Verde National Park and the Ute Mountain Tribal Park, you can explore the Anasazi ruins at Hovenweep National Monument, Escalante, Dominguez and Lowry Ruins, as well as Crow Canyon. Aztec National Monument, Salmon Ruins and even Chaco Canyon are also within a day’s reach. Nearby scenic wonders include Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Monument Valley and Four Corners Monument. Don’t miss the Anasazi Heritage Center, a world class museum just out side of Dolores and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
The San Juan Skyway
The town of Dolores lies on the San Juan Skyway, a state and federally designated scenic highway, so awe-inspiring, it has been called ‘America’s Most Beautiful Drive’.
The 236 mile loop is a perfect one-day drive. The road will take you over and around the spectacular San Juan Mountains and through the historic mining towns of Telluride, Ouray, Silverton and Durango. Ridgway, Mancos and Cortez are also along the way.
Anasazi Heritage Center – Ancient Cultures
The BLM manages a “world class” museum just outside Dolores. The Center is not only a museum, but also houses more than 3 million artifacts and archives excavated from public lands in southwestern Colorado. Throughout the year, the museum hosts guest lectures and changing exhibits in addition to its permanent exhibits. You can also bring the kids. They’ll love learning about history while exploring in the museum’s interactive Discovery Area. The Discovery Area includes a weaving loom, corn grinding bins, and several computer stations that share information about archaeology and modern Native Americans. The museum also shows original movies that explore topics of archaeology, local history and Pueblo, Ute and Navajo life ways. Also located on the museum’s grounds are two 12th century pueblos. These pueblos are named after the Spanish friars, Escalante and Dominguez, who traveled through the area in AD 1776. For more information, call (970) 882-5600, or visit the Center’s website at www.co.blm.gov/ahc. Doors are open everyday except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Years Days. (Photos courtesy of BLM/AHC/CANM)
Canyons of the Ancients – National Monument
Canyons of the Ancients was designated a National Monument in June of 2000. The Monument contains the highest concentration of archaeological sites in the nation. These sites represent cultures and traditions spanning thousands of years. More information about places to visit in the Monument is available at the Anasazi Heritage Center. Four areas have been somewhat modified for the public access: Lowry Pueblo, Painted Hand Pueblo, Sand Canyon Pueblo, and the Sand Canyon Trail. These areas are accessible from maintained county roads, but go to the Anasazi Heritage Center first for maps, brochures, and current information about places to visit; some roads may be impassible when wet. For more information, call (970) 882-5600, or visit the Monument’s website at www.co.blm.gov/canm.
A Taste of the Old West
Stick around and spend a day or two with us. Take a pack trip on horseback into the San Juan Mountains and explore over 2 million acres of San Juan National Forest. Rustle up some grub at a chuckwagon dinner and shop for antiquities at local galleries and shops.
Many of the buildings in Dolores are original designs and of historical significance. A self guided walking tour of 18 historical sites brochure is available at the Dolores Visitor’s Center. Local shops and galleries are filled with art, weaving, sculpture, sand paintings, jewelry and more treasures.
You can witness the living traditions of Native Americans from the Ute Mountain Ute, Southern Ute and Navajo Tribes, creating and preserving their way of life, part of the western experience that lives on in our unique culture.There’s plenty of old west spirit and charm just waiting to be shared in Mesa Verde Country.
Gaming and Entertainment
Your Lucky Day is Just a Spin Away…
For those with an interest in gaming, you can chase lady luck down the highway to the Ute Mountain Casino, just a half hour away. The action includes casino gambling with live poker and slots, blackjack and bingo. The casino is open 8 a.m. till 4 a.m. every day. Closer to home you’ll find Indian Dancers and Storytellers in Cortez on the summer evenings at the University of Colorado’s Cortez Center, plus other special activities posted at the Chamber and around town. A special note: don’t miss Escalante Days, right here in downtown Dolores in August each year. Everyone in town turns out for this special event!
Big Game Hunting & Abundant Wildlife
Southwest Colorado offers some of the best big game hunting in the state. Trophy deer and elk abound in the region, and while hunting is strictly regulated to the fall, you can benefit from the abundant wildlife all year long with your binoculars and camera lens. Ask any of our local outfitters for more specific information about seasons, restrictions and guide services.