The thrill of mountain biking is alive and well in the West End and the trails are as diverse as the area itself. From technical single track to mellow 4WD roads, there are mountain bike trails for every rider. Kids and beginners will enjoy the buff singletrack at Thunder Trails and the Burn Canyon Areas outside of Norwood. Advanced cyclists will be challenged on epic rides like the Paradox and Shamrock Trails. There are also a host of road cycling options if you prefer to stick to the pavement.
The Colorado Plateau provides a broad range of hiking and walking options in its diverse ecosystem
of mesas, high alpine environments, and dramatic red rock canyons. You and your family can explore
endless miles of trails with breathtaking views, birdwatching, petroglyphs, rock formations like arches and much more as you walk through old-growth pinyon and juniper pines, and deep canyons teaming with roaming wildlife.
According to Out There Colorado, the West End is home to some of the most storied rock-climbing
routes. Most of the rock is sandstone with everything from short crags to pinnacles to long cracks.
So, whether you’re into bouldering, sport climbing, or crack climbing, there’s truly something in this remote destination for every climber, including those with less experience.
From trail riding to arenas to rodeos, horseback riders and enthusiasts have many options in the West End. The area showcases 30+ trails and countless double tracks and Jeep roads for you to explore on horseback on your own or with an experienced outfitter. If you are more of a spectator, please check out events at the Nucla Rodeo Arena and the San Miguel Fairgrounds in Norwood.
ATV, 4WD, OHV and dirt biking – all great ways to see the varied terrain and most stunning scenery of the West End. Drivers and riders enjoy some of Colorado’s best OHV trails and ATV trails that range from singletrack, doubletrack, Jeep roads and historic byways such as the Rimrocker Trail that spans 160 miles. See red rock canyons, winding rivers, desert vistas and alpine forests – all from your side by side or ATV.
SCENIC DRIVES & TOURS
The highly acclaimed Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic & Historic Byway runs on highway 141 and 145
through the West End. It takes you on a fabulous journey through history, geology, culture, and nature.
May other off shoots exist for tours and explorations. SEE OUR GUIDE + MM MAP
With the confluence of the San Miguel and Dolores Rivers, along with two reservoirs, there are ample opportunities for water sports like stand-up paddle boarding, rafting, and boating.
HUNTING & FISHING
The great outdoors of the West End offers a host of hunting and fishing opportunities. Hunters enjoy a trophy unit on the Uncompaghre Plateau while fishermen have the Buckeye, Rainbow and Miramonte Reservoirs as well as the San Miguel and Dolores Rivers for fly fishing.
The West End offers plenty of winter activities to keep you busy all season long – snowmobiling, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, fat tire biking, sleigh rides and ice fishing. With significant snowfall at higher elevations, such as Wright’s Mesa outside of Norwood, and temperate weather in the valleys, winter can be enjoyable even for those who don’t love the cold.
ASTRONOMY & NIGHT SKIES
The UTB has many stargazing opportunities along the canyon corridors. Locals will tell you about the stars in the West End are stunning and the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) agrees. Norwood was the first town on Colorado’s Western Slope to be designated as a “Dark Sky Community’’. Nucla and Naturita were both added as IDA communities in 2021. This honor has currently been awarded to 22 International Dark Sky Communities around the world, 15 of which are in the US, with others being in Canada, Denmark, Germany, Scotland, and the U.K.
The rimrocks of Western Montrose County are rich with history. One hundred and fifty million years ago, this landscape included dinosaurs and lush plants that were eventually deposited in sandstone beds that now define the Morrison Formation. Its massive rock outcroppings of red and gray sandstone provided an excellent medium for the early inhabitants of this area to tell their stories. These rock etchings, although their content may seem primitive and unfamiliar, beckon us to search for the common themes that connect all of humanity throughout the ages. In doing so, we can understand the powerful human need to define our place and purpose on this earth, and to ensure that our lives do not go un-remembered.
Visit the Gateway Car Museum in Gateway. The Rimrocker Historical Society (RHS) has a small museum hosting artifacts of the area’s natural history, Native American, pioneer and mining history. RHS also maintains a picnic area and campground at the site of the historic Uravan Ball Park. Wright’s Mesa Historical Society Museum is located in the old log cabin on Lucerne Street in Norwood.
Agritourism is exactly what it sounds like…an intersection of agriculture and tourism where a budding industry is emerging to provide an educational experience to visitors. This is a tour of an orchard, classes on cheese making, wineries and much more in the West End.
The Dolores River is a tributary of the Colorado River. It was named by the explorers, Dominguez and Escalante, its name derives from the Spanish El Rio de Nuestra Señora de Dolores, River of Our Lady of Sorrows. These 102 miles stretch of river carves its way through broad valleys and tight canyons with sheer canyon walls. The river drains a rugged and arid region of the Colorado Plateau west of the San Juan Mountains and whitewater boating ranges from flatwater to Class IV rapids (Snaggletooth Rapid), with access points at Bradfield Bridge, Mountain Sheep Point, and Gypsum Valley recreation sites. Depending on private landowner approval access may also be provided at Slick Rock. The Lower Dolores is situated below McPhee Reservoir and therefore flow is based on release from the McPhee Dam.
SAN MIGUEL RIVER
The San Miguel River starts in the San Juan Mountains southeast of Telluride and flows northwest, along the Uncompahgre Plateau, past the towns of Placerville and Nucla and joins the Dolores in western Montrose County approximately 15 miles east of the state line with Utah. This river is just 81 miles long but is one of the few untamed rivers left in the world.
Spanning a distance of 160 miles, the Rimrocker Trail provides 4WD, OHV and bicycle access through some of the West’s most stunning scenery. Visitors are immersed in natural beauty as the trail guides them through a landscape of redrock canyons, winding rivers, desert vistas and alpine forests.
UT Byway Committee:
Rimrocker Historical Society
Bureau of Land Management
West End Colorado
West End Trails Alliance
Nucla-Naturita Area Chamber of Commerce
Norwood Chamber of Commerce
West End Visitors Center & UT Byway Interpretive Center
230 W. Main Street, Naturita, Colorado: 970.865.2350
USFS Visitors Center, 1150 Forest St, Norwood: 970.327.4261
Lone Cone Library, 1455 S Pinion St, Norwood: 970.327.4833
Ball Park Campground, Uravan: Info Kiosk