The Gunnison Valley is home to over 2 million acres of public land, which is almost 82% of the county. Access to these lands and the recreation opportunities they offer are one of the many reasons people enjoy living here.
Most of the southern portion of Gunnison County falls under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, including the singletrack hub of Hartman Rocks Recreation Area. Tons of mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, OHV and back road exploration are possible on BLM managed lands in the Gunnison Valley.
The United States Forest Service (USFS) maintains most of the public lands in Gunnison County. Gunnison National Forest is home to a large quantity of singletrack that visitors and locals enjoy. They also steward five Wilderness Areas in Gunnison County: Maroon Bells-Snowmass, Fossil Ridge, the Raggeds, the West Elk Mountains and Collegiate Peaks.
The National Park Service manages two large parks in the area. Curecanti National Recreation Area encompasses the length of the Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest lake, and offers excellent boating and fishing.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is also in the area. It is one of the deepest/narrowest gorges in the world. From either rim you can stare straight down 2000′ to the roiling waters of the Gunnison River. It has monstrous trout, Class V and VI whitewater, and some of the biggest multi-pitch routes in the west. It’s also one of the most stunning places you could visit. The Park Service also maintains a Visitor Center. You can drive to overlooks on the South Rim and North Rim.
As a community, we like to proactively and positively engage with our public lands. We are incredibly fortunate to have progressive and innovative public lands managers in the Gunnison Valley. Two big ways we engage are through the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative (GPLI) and the Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation (STOR) Committee.
GPLI is a working group of many local stakeholders developing a consensus plan to protect public lands, enhance a strong and sustainable economy, and support historic uses of public lands. GPLI introduced legislation known as the Gunnison Outdoor Resources Protection (GORP) Act. GORP created a set of recommendations to preserve and protect the public lands in and around Gunnison County.
The STOR Committee was born with the goal of ensuring a balance of sustainable tourism and outdoor recreation while also respecting our landscapes. This committee is unique among communities in the West and includes representatives from each of the three federal land agencies working in the Gunnison Valley, the state of Colorado and local stakeholders.