This is the nearest Colorado
town to the famous Four Corners, that unique spot where
one can stand in four states at the same time, by
carefully positioning your feet (the larger the better).
More important, Cortez is the center for exploration of
the prehistoric Indians, called the Anasazi, a Navajo
word for "Ancient Ones." Once thriving in cliff
settlements, the Anasazi disappeared around 1300 AD.
The Anasazi were farmers, growing squash,
corn, and beans in the valleys and on the mesas of the
region. They lived in caves and were artists: potters and
basket-makers. In their later years, they lived under
overhanging cliffs, and excellent examples of these cliff
dwellings are in Mesa Verde
National Park. Later, they built masonry houses into
the cliffs. And then they vanished. Ute Indians arrived
in the Four Corners area two centuries later.
It's is no surprise that most of the
attractions of the Cortez area center on the Anasazi and
They are found near the fascinating
Anasazi Heritage Center, at Dolores, just north of
Cortez; in the Hovenweep National Monument, east
of town at the Utah border; at the Lowry Pueblo,
northeast of Cortez, past the town of Pleasantview; and
at Mesa Verde. In town, the Cortez Archeological Center
(800-422-8975 or 970-565-8975). The educational programs
include one-week sessions which feature on-site activity
at a five-acre dig site.
It is possible to stay within Mesa Verde
National Park, at the Far View Lodge, which has
rooms with a view, a restaurant and lounge. The lodge is
open from June through September. There is camping
available in the park, with 490 sites at the Morefield
Aside from Anasazi explorations, the
Dolores River -- downstream from the McPhee
Reservoir -- attracts anglers who fish for rainbow trout,
cutthroat and brown trout. There is also good fishing in
the reservoir. Brook trout, rainbow and brown trout are
found in Groundhog Reservoir, located about 32
miles north of Cortez via 11th Street and Forest Road
The popular Navajo Trail leads into
the Lizard Head Wilderness Area, west of Dolores.
The trailhead is two miles north of the village of
Dunton, on Forest Road 535. The trail climbs for five
miles to Navajo Lake. Three "fourteeners" are there for
hardy climbers, but the walk to the lake alone is worth
the small effort. The hot springs at Dunton may be
open for soaking, but then they may not, as the pool has
been closed, on and off over the years.
Cortez KOA Kampground, (970) 565-9301
Full hookups, laundry and other KOA features. Located
east of town on Hwy. 160.
Dolores River RV Park
18680 Hwy. 145, Dolores (970) 562-3810
Full hookups, tent sites, drive through sites and store.
Riverside sites, 2.5 miles east of Dolores on Highway