Round Trip Distance: 1/2 mile
Elevation: 5871 - 5893 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 3 hrs. 30 mins.
Facilities: Toilets, museum, gift shop
Trailhead: 17253 Chipeta Road
Fee: Under 6 - Free, 6-16 - $2
Adults - $4.50, Over 65 - $4
Attractions: Historic Ute Indian site, picnic
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The Ute Indian Museum is locate 3 miles south of downtown Montrose, Colorado at US 550 and Chipeta Road. The museum houses a very fine collection of Ute Indian artifacts. Among the wealth of information to view and read is a very good video of the Bear Dance. The gift shop sells items of all price ranges that appeal to people of any age.
The museum hours, which seem to be approximations, vary depending on the time of year:
Jan–June~Tues–Sat, 9 am to 4:00 pm.
July–Oct~Mon–Sat, 9 am to 4:30 pm, Sunday, 11 am to 4:30 pm.
Nov–Dec~Mon–Sat, 9 am to 4:30 pm.
We called ahead, 970-249-3098, before driving all the way over from Grand Junction to make sure they would be open.
The site of the Ute Indian Museum is on the homestead of Chief Ouray and his wife Chipeta. The original museum was constructed in 1956 and was later enlarged in 1998.
There are several tepees that you can go inside of and perhaps try to imagine how you would arrange your personal items to make a home.
There are several paths that you can stroll along in the Chief Ouray Memorial Park.
Besides the memorial to Chief Ouray there is also Chipeta's crypt and next to it the grave of their son Chief John McCook.
If you walk across Chipeta Road you can visit the tranquil Native Plants Garden. There is a boardwalk that extends down to the banks of the Uncompaghre River. Deer can sometimes be spotted on the grounds during the early morning and late evening hours.
There is a tribute to the Dominguez-Escanlante Expedition in the south area of the native plants garden. It seemed a little odd at first to see it as part of a tribute to Chief Ouray and the Ute Indians, kind of like seeing a Christmas tree in a synagogue, but I guess when Fathers Dominguez and Escanlante came through the area they were somewhat welcomed by the Utes.
The outside areas of the museum are very peaceful and well maintained. It seems like a lot of planning and effort were put into creating an enjoyable, contemplative environment.
The Daughters of the American Revolution erected a tepee over Ouray and Chipeta's Spring.
While you can probably visit the areas outside of the actual museum without first paying the requisite fee you will find the exhibits inside well worth the expense. It is hard to spend a lot of time hiking around Colorado without eventually coming across some sort of signs of the Utes. Many of the trails were in fact originally made by the Indians. Like other museums in the area a good understanding of what they teach about those that came before will greatly enrich your experience in the outdoors. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.