Colorado Western Slope
The Western Slope of Colorado refers to a region of the U.S. state of Colorado incorporating everything in the state west of the Continental Divide, including Garfield, Mesa, Delta, Montrose, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Ouray and San Miguel counties. The Colorado River and its tributaries divide the region into north and south at Grand Junction, Colorado. The area has a climate similar to that of the Great Basin.
Historically, Ute people inhabited the area, and most of it was part of Utah Territory before its inclusion into the Colorado Territory upon organization in 1861. White settlers began arriving in large numbers in the late 1870s and early 1880s.
The Western Slope is sparsely populated compared to the Front Range. However, the regional population is growing rapidly, contributing to the state's ranking as one of the fastest growing in the nation. The primary economic activities are ranching, mining, and tourism. Fruit farming is also prevalent in areas along the Colorado and Gunnison rivers, including the Grand Valley.
The most populated areas of the Western slope are, first, The Tri County area, which contains Grand Junction, Montrose, and Delta, and second, the Intermountain region, containing Glenwood Springs, Aspen, and Vail.
Much of the area's economy is dependent upon energy extraction services and tourism. The region contains plentiful sources of oil, natural gas, uranium, and coal. It is also known worldwide for its ski resorts, with popular destinations such as Aspen, Crested Butte, Vail, and Steamboat Springs. Most counties in the northern areas of the slope have at least one ski resort.
Although the area's economy is dominated by energy extraction services and tourism, the Grand Junction area's most prominent economy sector is health care. The Grand Junction area is one of the best health care regions in not only the state but the country as well.
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