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Five Family Friendly Summer Activities in Colorado

Words and photos by Danica Bona

The Gunnison Valley is for Family

Colorado is known for its stunning natural beauty, outdoor recreation and family-friendly adventures. The mountain towns in the Gunnison Valley are no exception. Nestled on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains, there are plenty of adventures and activities in Crested Butte (CB) and Gunnison for the whole family to enjoy! With outdoor adventures, community events and kid-centric museums, there are so many great experiences here for your next Colorado family vacation. Here are five family summer activities to enjoy here.

Family-friendly Outdoor Adventures in Gunnison and Crested Butte

As you would expect of Colorado mountain towns, Gunnison and Crested Butte offer the most beautiful playground—nature. With breathtaking landscapes and trails for all levels, it is the perfect place for family summer activities to connect with the wild.

Hike or mountain bike through the stunning wildflowers and aspen groves of Crested Butte or explore the diverse desert trails in Gunnison that will remind you of Fruita or Moab.

Lower Loop is an excellent trail for beginner bikers that is customizable based on level and length of ride you would like. Starting and ending in town, you can head to Woods Walk, which is an excellent short loop on its own, take a break by the river, and turn around at Gunsight Bridge. Or head up Upper Lower Loop to extend the fun! There are also some connecting trails throughout the ride for more advanced riders. Be sure to check out Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA), our local trail organization, for more rides in the north valley!

The Crested Butte skills park is also a great place for kiddos of all ages! Located behind the Community School in downtown CB, it includes a pump track, jumps, skills courses and all-around fun. Be sure to check out the Beginner Loop that starts right from the bike park and is a great first single track for new riders!

If you’re staying in the south end of the valley, Hartman Rocks offers some excellent trails and rides for the whole family! Evan’s Loop is made up of three different trails that can be ridden in either direction. With flowy trails through the sagebrush, it is a great choice for beginners.

For unique family summer activities and a true Western experience, embark on a guided horseback ride through the picturesque landscapes. Several local outfitters provide guided tours that cater to all skill levels.

Or take to the water with various family summer activities on our rivers and reservoirs. Enjoy a thrilling whitewater rafting trip down the Gunnison River or paddleboard down the Slate River. The Lower Taylor River is a great choice for kids of any age, and kids 12+ can have fun on the Upper Taylor. Rent a motorboat on the Blue Mesa Reservoir or head up to the stunning high alpine lakes where you can paddleboard, picnic and enjoy a day in the sunshine.

Another activity the whole family will enjoy is fishing – whether you pile on a boat, explore the streams with a fly fishing rod, or pick up a spinner reel for your lake day, there are incredible opportunities to inspire your little anglers.

Family-friendly activities at Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Mt. Crested Butte is a must-visit destination for families seeking adventure and excitement. While the winter months offer world-class skiing and snowboarding for all skill levels, in the summer, the mountain transforms into a hub for mountain biking, hiking, and scenic chairlift rides. The resort features an Adventure Park with a bungee trampoline, a climbing wall, and a mining sluice providing endless entertainment for families. And with 30 miles of lift-served singletrack, the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Park meets the needs of all riders from beginners to those ready to hit technical features of its downhill trails.

Looking for something the kids will enjoy while you get out on your own adventure? CBMR offers summer programming weekdays 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. You can sign up for the whole week or just a day! From hiking and biking to arts and crafts, archery, water sports, and more, kids will love immersing themselves in mountain activities!

The front of a building with the words "Pioneer Museum" and a flag pole with a red, white, and blue flag.

Museums in Gunnison and Crested Butte

While museums may remind you of larger Colorado cities like Denver, the Gunnison Valley has our own rich history and cultural offerings that families can explore together.

The Trailhead Children’s Museum is a must-visit attraction for families with young children. The museum offers a range of hands-on exhibits and activities that encourage learning through play. The museum also hosts educational programs and workshops that cater to different age groups, fostering curiosity and a love of learning for the whole family.

The Gunnison Pioneer Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the region’s past, showcasing exhibits on pioneer life, mining, and local heritage (complete with real train cars!).

The Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum provides insights into the area’s skiing, biking and mining history, while also hosting family friendly events throughout the season.

The Gunnison Valley Observatory shows the world to families interested in stargazing and astronomy. Located in the dark skies of Gunnison County, this observatory offers educational astronomy talks and dome tours where visitors can observe celestial wonders through powerful telescopes. Children can learn about constellations, planets, and the vastness of the universe in a captivating and interactive environment.

Live Music for kids in Gunnison and Crested Butte

Who doesn’t love enjoying amazing live bands playing against a beautiful mountain backdrop? While Colorado towns like Telluride and Boulder may be known for their large music festivals, Gunnison Crested Butte offers free live music options almost every day of the week throughout the summer with various up-and-coming artists.

In addition to our free live music options, there are so many talented artists who visit the valley through our year-round music venues like I-Bar Ranch (past performers include Yonder Mountain String Band and Michael Franti) in Gunnison and the Center for the Arts (Past performers include Robert Earl Keen and Leftover Salmon) in Crested Butte. Learn more about live music in the Gunnison Valley.

Annual Events

The Gunnison Valley hosts a variety of annual family-oriented festivals and events that locals and visitors alike look forward to each year.

The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, held in July, is a celebration of the area’s colorful wildflowers. Join guided hikes, photography workshops, and educational programs to discover the beauty of the alpine flora.

Gunnison Cattlemen’s Days + Carnival is a week-long event held in July that celebrates the ranching and cowboy heritage of the Gunnison Valley. Fun for the entire family, the festivities include a rodeo, a parade through downtown Gunnison, live music performances, and various family-friendly activities including an evening carnival with all the fair rides, games and cotton candy you could dream of!

Crested Butte Arts Festival is a three-day event that takes place in August, showcasing the creativity and talent of local and national artists. The festival features a wide range of artistic mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry, and more. Visitors can browse and purchase artwork, enjoy live music, participate in interactive art activities, and sample delicious food from local vendors. They even have kid-specific stations to celebrate even the smallest family member’s artistic side.

Gunnison Car Show, held in August, is a gathering of classic and vintage cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Car enthusiasts from all over the state of Colorado and beyond come together to showcase their beautifully restored vehicles and compete for prizes. The event includes live music, food vendors, and a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.

4th of July celebrations are a big deal here in the Gunnison Valley! There is an epic parade down Elk Avenue in Crested Butte, making our charming town feel bigger than ever. There is live music and a hot air balloon rally in Gunnison. And of course enjoy fireworks on both ends of the valley in Mount Crested Butte and Gunnison. It is a week of celebration with activities and fun for all ages.

There are also new events scheduled all the time, so bookmark the Gunnison Valley event calendar to stay on top of new offerings.

Book Your Trip

Between Gunnison, Crested Butte, Almont and Mount Crested Butte, the mountain towns of the Gunnison Valley provide a treasure trove of summer family activities that combine adventure, nature, culture, and education. Whether you’re seeking outdoor thrills, exploring local history, or simply spending quality time together, these destinations have something to offer for every member of the family.

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