Rifle is a Home Rule Municipality in Garfield County, Colorado, United States. The population was 9,172 at the 2010 census, up from 6,784 at the 2000 census. Rifle is a regional center of the cattle ranching industry located along Interstate 70 and the Colorado River just east of the Roan Plateau, which dominates the western skyline of the town. The town was founded in 1882 by Abram Maxfield, and was incorporated in 1905 along Rifle Creek, near its mouth on the Colorado. The community takes its name from the creek.
The land that Rifle resides on was once in the heart of the Ute Nation, a classification of the Indigenous peoples of the Great Basin. The most common tribe in the area were the Tabagauche, who hunted and lived on the land slightly to the east of Rifle in the Roaring Fork Valley. Due to their location, the Tabagauche were somewhat less exposed to white settlers, and to some extent their ways remained less altered than other native peoples. In 1878 Nathan Meeker was appointed as the director of the White River Ute Agency (the town of Meeker 40 miles north of Rifle was named after him). Meeker had no training or knowledge of Ute culture, and launched into a campaign centered on sedentary agriculture and European-American schooling. As this clashed with the culture of the nomadic Utes, he was met with resistance.