Gunnison County, Colorado is home to more than 2 million acres of public land. Most of that public land is part of the Gunnison National Forest and managed and protected by the United States Forest Service. The forest offers many opportunities for visitors and locals including hiking, hunting, fishing, skiing, mountain biking, camping, OHV, and even cattle ranching. This shared land is one of the greatest assets of the Gunnison Valley.
Locals and visitors alike recreate on the forest. Pay attention to posted signs and maps for allowable activities in the different regions of the forest.
We have pieces of 5 different designated wilderness areas within the Gunnison Valley: the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, the Raggeds Wilderness, the West Elk Wilderness, the Fossil Ridge Wilderness, and the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. They offer quiet, peaceful trails for hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding. Hunting and fishing are also allowed in many of these wilderness areas.
Other zones in the Forest offer different recreation opportunities. Mechanized trails allow mountain bikes and other non-motorized access. Miles and miles of trails are accessible to motorized vehicles, primarily dirt bikes, as well.
For Your Safety and Enjoyment
Our ability to continue to experience these lands depends on all of us to treat each other with respect and follow forest rules and good common sense. The primary principles include obeying all closures and access restrictions as well as using leave no trace (LNT) practices to minimize our impact.
Trail Advice and Expectations:
- Tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to return.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the summer months.
- Know regulations for the areas you’ll visit.
- Only ride wheeled vehicles on designated routes. Don’t widen them. We build them narrow so they’re more fun and to keep speeds down.
- For solid human waste, dig a cathole at least 6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet from trails, campsites, and water. Pack out toilet paper and hygeine products; don’t burn it. Pick up and pack out after your pet, too.
- Pick up and pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
- Take only pictures. Leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you find them. Do not build structures or cairns; do not dig trenches.
- Camp in designated areas/established campsites. Don’t build new fire rings.
- Observe wilderness boundaries, private property boundaries, and seasonal closures.
- Follow instructions on gate signs. If there is no sign, leave the gate as you found it.
- Observe wildlife and cattle from a distance. Do not follow, approach, or yell at them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding them alters natural behaviors.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing food and trash securely.