Gunnison Valley Raring To Get Back to Business

Photo of Trail in Gunnison Valley

2020 was off to a great business start when the plague hit the valley and the ski area closed mid-March. January valley lodging revenue was +6% vs January 2019. February grew a whopping 23% vs. the previous February. March looked strong and then we lost half the month. No one could be more surprised than I that March was down only 12% in lodging sales. I expected a decrease of at least 40% and closer to 50%.

That shockingly strong March, considering we only had half the month, left first-quarter lodging revenues +4.4%  vs. first quarter, 2019. A minor miracle!

Of course, April and May lodging numbers, when the county reports them, will be dismal. If there is any good news here, May is the smallest month of the year and April the No. 10 month of the year for tourism. There’s a reason we call it “off season.”

And now businesses are preparing for reopening for the heart of the summer, which begins in June, and lodging properties will begin welcoming guests May 27.

On May 15 TAPP launches a $300,000 digital- and social-marketing program, pretty much within Colorado as there are still travel restrictions within our state and other states. Our beautiful trails system is pretty much the message, but included is a short video welcoming folks back and the world premiere of Teton Gravity Research’s latest mountain bike film, “Accomplice,” at the huge Denver Mart Drive-In theater.

There’s reason to be bullish on the valley’s prospects relative to others this summer. One, we have a very strong drive market and we know people don’t want to get on planes. Two, we are not an event-driven summer tourist economy compared to other mountain valleys. Sure, people who are here visit our events, but people come here to hang and to use our trails and fishing streams. Third, people are going to feel safe on our trails. We know that outdoors transmission of the plague is unlikely.

We know people want to travel. And we know people want to feel safe.

What can go wrong? Only a new outbreak of the virus, scaring people away and necessarily precipitating a new round of community health orders. And we can do better than that! We all want to keep opening and opening.

Let’s all stay safe. Not for our own sake, but for everyone’s sake! Let’s all go and have the best business summer we possibly can! And also find some time to get out on our beautiful trails and streams while we’re at it.

-John Norton, Executive Director, Tourism and Prosperity Partnership

Author: John Norton

14 Responses to Gunnison Valley Raring To Get Back to Business

  1. We have plans to be in the Gunnison/Crested Butte area the end of July. We are from out of state, will we be able to visit the area?

    • Joanne, new infections are quite low now in the valley, and current public health plans call for full occupancies by June 1. So, we think so!
      -John Norton

      • Thank you! We used to live in Colorado and Crested Butte was always on our vacation list. And it most certainly is since we have moved! Can’t wait to get there!

  2. The amended order from Gunnison County was unclear to us. Beginning May 15, Hotels/ Air B&Bs are open to outside guests but only ate limited capacity? Does this include in state and out of state visitors?

    • May 15 was mostly a rehearsal for lodging to practice safety protocols, with county residents and those already in the county welcome to stay. May 27 is the official, out of county opening date.

  3. So glad to hear that your Q1’20 Lodging Rev was +4.4% to LY. I think this is a testament to the good folk of Gunnison/CB-area. We’re native Texan and we LOVE Gunnison/CB! Hope to see y’all in June………and again in December!

  4. We want to camp at blue mesa and launch our boat. When are the campgrounds going to open? We are missing some of the best salmon fishing right now!

    • Hi, Barbara. According to the National Park Service, “Blue Mesa Reservoir is open.” However, “Campgrounds and Visitor Center closed.” Gunnison County opens to visitors starting Wednesday, May 27. I suggest checking back with the Curecanti National Recreation Area website for the latest Alerts in Effect:

  5. Are we able to have campfires at the dispersed camping areas after tomorrow ?? I see no fire ban is effect !

    • Hi, Emily. I suggest checking out The different agencies–BLM, USFS and NPS–might have varying restrictions. There’s even a button on that homepage called West Slope Fire Information: Hope that helps!

  6. We live on the east coast so driving will take too long for travel. If we use the airports (being extremely careful, masks, etc) and arrive June 20 (after May 27), will we be allowed to stay? We will rent a car at the Gunnison airport as well. It will be totally obvious that we are from out of town. We are concerned since we are flying into the Gunnison airport – that we might be told we cannot stay. We are ultimately going to a family cabin and staying there for the week. Most likely won’t see too many people except at the grocery store. Do we need to bring anything to help allow us to stay? If we need to do something, I would rather get it done early and be prepared instead of showing up and getting sent home.

    • Hi, Violet. Gunnison County opened to visitors on May 27. Wearing a mask is encouraged in public areas, such as the grocery market. Safe travels!

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