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Gunnison vs. Sedona Mountain Biking

Are you considering Gunnison vs Sedona for a mountain biking trip? Both destinations offer desert riding, have public lands to explore and many trails to ride. You probably have some questions about Gunnison vs Sedona mountain biking. What is the mountain biking like in Gunnison? When is the best time to mountain bike in Sedona? Keep reading to learn about the mountain biking, towns, other things to do and more.

Where is Gunnison?

Gunnison, Colorado sits on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains. The town lies along Highway 50 between Salida and Montrose. It takes four hours to get to Denver and three hours to get to Colorado Springs from Gunnison. The Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Parks Service all manage public lands in Gunnison. Find adventures in Gunnison National Forest, Taylor Park, Hartman Rocks and more.

 

 

Where is Crested Butte?

Head north on Highway 135 for 30 miles from Gunnison to get to Crested Butte. It’s nestled deep in the Rocky Mountains at the end of the road. Wilderness areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service surround Crested Butte. Explore the West Elk Wilderness, the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and the Raggeds Wilderness.

A pointy mountain peak covered in haze from the sunset with trees and a grassy field in the foreground. This sunset is happening over Crested Butte, Colorado

Where is Sedona?

Coconino National Forest surrounds Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is south of Flagstaff and northeast of Prescott, Arizona. It is about 113 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

 

What is Gunnison like?

Gunnison is a laid-back college town with a love for the outdoors. The Gunnison Valley has over two million acres of public lands, so there are ample ways to explore the outdoors. Head to Main Street after an adventure for cute coffee shops, galleries with art of the area, and shops and places to eat. The arts center hosts live music, art classes, theater and more.

 

What is Crested Butte like?

Crested Butte is a lively, quirky town sometimes called a “surf town in the mountains.” Downtown is colorful and historic. Many of the buildings are original from when Crested Butte was a mining town. Get drinks and food, shop, go to a show and more in Crested Butte. Take advantage of the trails near town and ride straight out your door.

 

What is Sedona like?

Sedona is famous for its geography, which is characterized by desert red rock formations. Downtown features shops, galleries and places to eat. Hiking and mountain biking are two of Sedona’s most popular activities.

A rock formation and a hillside covered in sagebrush at Hartman Rocks in Gunnison, Colorado

What is Gunnison’s elevation and geography?

Gunnison’s elevation is 7,703 feet. The ecosystem is high desert. The environment is characterized by rolling hills of sagebrush. These rocky hills rise into crags where coniferous trees grow.

 

What is Crested Butte’s elevation and geography?

Crested Butte sits at an elevation of 8,909 feet. It is surrounded by the Gunnison National Forest. Crested Butte’s environment is high alpine and suited for aspens and wildflowers.

 

What is Sedona’s Elevation and Geography?

Sedona is in northern Arizona and has an elevation of 4,360 feet. It is a semi-desert grassland.

 

When is the best season to visit Gunnison?

Biking season in Gunnison is spring, summer and fall. Spring highs are in the 40s and 50s. Summer highs are in the 70s. Fall highs are in the 60s and high 50s. Comparing Gunnison vs. Sedona mountain biking, summer is a better to mountain bike in Gunnison.

 

When is the best season to visit Crested Butte?

Crested Butte’s mountain biking season is usually from June to October. Summer highs are in the high 60s to the mid-70s. Fall highs are in the 50s to 60s. Wildflower season begins in June, peaks in mid-July and is usually done by the end of August. Aspen leaves change in September.

 

When is the best season to visit Sedona?

The best times to recreate in Sedona are spring and fall. Sedona is hot in the summer. Average highs in June, July and August are in the 90s. Fall is in the 70s and 80s. Spring is in the 60s and 70s.

 

Mountain biking in Gunnison

Mountain biking in Gunnison is high desert, rocky and technical. The primary mountain biking areas in Gunnison are Hartman Rocks and Signal Peak. Nearby Crested Butte, Colorado is also a mountain biking mecca. Gunnison and Crested Butte have over 800 miles of singletrack for riders of all abilities.

A man riding a bike down a rocky slope. Hartman Rocks MTB in Gunnison, CO

Hartman Rocks

Most of the biking in Gunnison is at Hartman Rocks, a Bureau of Land Management area just outside Gunnison. There are 50 miles of trails open to biking on the 8,000 acres at Hartman Rocks. These trails offer a cross-country riding experience over rolling hills blanketed in sagebrush. Get started on planning some rides with these easy rides at Hartman Rocks. The rocky and technical trails at Hartman Rocks will remind you of biking in places like Moab, Utah and Fruita, Colorado.

Trails at Hartman Rocks

  • Buddy Bear
  • Josie’s
  • High Five
  • Cat Castle
  • The Ridge

 

Signal Peak

The Signal Peak trails are located adjacent to Western Colorado University’s campus in Gunnison. The trailhead is right across from the ICELab @ Western, Gunnison’s all-in-on coworking space. The trails on Signal Peak are less technical than Hartman Rocks and are a mix of singletrack, doubletrack and flow trails. Chicken Wing, a lesser-known mountain bike trail in Gunnison, is the crown jewel of the Signal Peak trail system. Chicken Wing offers a fast and exciting descent that a rider of any ability level can enjoy. Plus, the wide-open view at the top makes this ride extra special at sunrise and sunset.

 

Trails on Signal Peak

  • Shoelace
  • Ridgeline
  • Canal Trail
  • Rasta Gulch Trail
  • Duane’s World

A man riding a mountain bike through a field of wildflowers with a cloud-shrouded mountain peak in the background. This man is mountain biking in Crested Butte, Colorado

Mountain biking in Crested Butte

There are hundreds of miles of bike trails around Crested Butte. These trails are flowy and high alpine. Many can be accessed right from town. Crested Butte has a few famous trails, such as Trail #401, but there are many amazing trails in Crested Butte you probably haven’t heard of to ride, too.

 

Trails in Crested Butte

  • Green Lake
  • Lower Loop
  • Strand Hill
  • Snodgrass
  • Strawberry

Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR), known for steep skiing in the winter, turns into a downhill mountain bike park in the summer. The bike park features over 30 miles of lift-served singletrack. You can also connect to nearby trails such as Happy Hour, Snodgrass and Tony’s from the bike park. Bikers of all abilities can take advantage of these scenic and fun lift-served trails.

 

Mountain biking in Sedona

Sedona has a well-connected MTB trail system. The mountain bike trails are rocky and a mix of flowy and technical. When comparing Gunnison vs. Sedona mountain biking, it’s important to note that much of the trails in Sedona are best suited for intermediate and advanced riders rather than beginners. Notable trails include Canyon of Fools, Little Horse, Hangover, Baldwin Loop and Hiline. Sedona does not have a lift-served bike park. Especially during spring, the trails in Sedona get busy, and traffic can back up for miles in town.

 

Other things to do in Gunnison and Crested Butte

The Gunnison Valley is a recreation paradise. Other things to do include whitewater boating, hiking and gravel biking.

 

Whitewater Boating in Gunnison

Spring and summer are the prime The five-mile town run, from Shady Island River Park to the Gunnison Whitewater Park, is the most popular section of the Gunnison River. The Upper Taylor is the most popular section of the Taylor River.

 

Fishing in Gunnison

Portions of the Taylor River and Gunnison River received Gold Medal Status from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission. Anglers will love fishing on these beautiful and elite trout fisheries. The Gold Medal sections include 20 miles of the Taylor River below Taylor Park Reservoir and 12.5 miles of the Gunnison River from Twin Bridges to Almont. The catch-and-release section of the Taylor River, right below the dam, can be fly-fished year-round.

A raft floating on a river at the base of a cliffside. People are rafting on the Taylor River

Boating in Crested Butte

The Slate River is a lazy, winding river perfect for stand-up paddleboarding. This float also has beautiful views of the mountains around Crested Butte. Whitewater kayakers can challenge themselves on the steep creeks in Crested Butte during spring runoff. Kayakers can paddle Oh Be Joyful, Upper Daisy Creek, Ruby Anthracite and the North Fork of the Slate.

 

Hiking in Gunnison

For a slower pace at Hartman Rocks, try hiking. Other places to hike in Gunnison include Fossil Ridge Wilderness in Gunnison National Forest, Mill Creek, Taylor Canyon and Curecanti National Recreation Area. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has scenic hiking and is in nearby Montrose, Colorado.

 

Hiking in Crested Butte

The town of Crested Butte is framed with high peaks. Explore the West Elk Wilderness, the Raggeds Wilderness and the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness from Crested Butte. Meander through wildflowers on an easy hike near town like Lower Loop. Or, challenge yourself on a more difficult hike such as Copley Lake. If you’re into peak-bagging, summit Crested Butte Mountain or a nearby fourteener in the Collegiate Peaks or the San Juans.

 

Gravel biking in Gunnison

Gunnison is home to thousands of miles of gravel roads suitable for gravel biking. Gravel bike in Gunnison in Hartman Rocks, Pitkin, Taylor Park, Ohio Creek, Signal Peak and Almont. Check out these easy gravel rides in Gunnison to get started.

Three people gravel biking in Crested Butte, Colorado on a dirt road with wildflowers in the foreground and mountain peaks in the background.

Gravel biking in Crested Butte

Most of the gravel biking in Crested Butte is chunky and challenging. The high alpine environment and higher elevation make the roads in Crested Butte more difficult than Gunnison. Kebler Pass, Schofield Pass and Paradise Divide are Crested Butte gravel biking routes.

 

Places to stay in the Gunnison Valley

Gunnison lodging is mostly affordable, traditional hotels. Most of them are close to downtown, the trails or both. Other places to stay in the Gunnison Valley include Crested Butte, Mt. Crested Butte and Almont. Stay in a cute bed and breakfast in Crested Butte or a resort in Mt. Crested Butte. Almont is known for quaint cabins along the river.

 

Plan your Colorado mountain bike trip

Start planning your Colorado mountain biking trip today! Get started on planning a Gunnison and Crested Butte MTB trip with this weekend trip itinerary. Use our trip planning guide to find things to do, places to shop and eat, and more. Here’s a guide of what to bring on a Colorado mountain bike trip. Browse and book flights on our getting here page.

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