Working in Gunnison Crested Butte

Mountain Made. Community Built.

Like other mountain towns, Gunnison Crested Butte offers a surprisingly diverse economy in spite of the largest driver being tourism. Ranching, education, healthcare, and business are the next leading industries in our region that employ thousands of our local residents.

What you might find most remarkable about our work environment is a unique business atmosphere led by ambitious individuals who enjoy balancing big adventures with their professional pursuits. To understand how our economy has molded into what it is today, it’s important to connect the dots between our history in ranching, conservation, and tourism.

cow in field 2

A History in Agriculture

Townships Built By Ranching

When the mountain valleys of the Rocky Mountains were settled in the late 19th century, most of the valley floors became private land. Towns were built, ranchland was established, and the mountains themselves were left to be mined and hunted.

For those reasons, there are many beautiful mountain vistas around our state, but ski-valley bottom-land, because of its value and because of the difficulties of ranching in the high country, has become housing developments.

An exception is the Gunnison Valley where, for whatever reason, our ranching community has proved tough and resilient. About two-thirds of Gunnison County’s private land is used for ranching operations.

river flowing near mountains

Conservation, Ranching, and Tourism

Caring for Our Lands

In the summer of 2018, the largest ranching preservation parcel in the history of Colorado (The Trampe Ranches with 6,000 acres) was put under a conservation easement. Fast forward to the present, and there are now over 75,000 acres of land in our valley—mostly on the valley floor—that have been conserved.

There are dozens of centennial ranches in the valley that have been in the same family’s hands through three or more generations. The ranches employ hundreds of ranch hands to irrigate, hay, repair fence, and move cattle around the valley and then to market.

While tourism and recreation have replaced mining as the biggest economic driver in the valley, the economic benefits of ranching remain strong from the 19th to the 21st Centuries. There are also many ecological benefits to ranching in the Gunnison Valley, with groundwater recharge perhaps being the most important.

Meet the Locals

Finding Balance in Work and Play

What you might find most captivating about our work environment are the individual movers and shakers who have shaped it into what it is today. Their stories are inspirational in that they’ve found a way to balance their passions with professional pursuits—like a mountain guru, an extreme filmmaker, partner ski shapers, and so many more that make up our community. These characters are emblematic of the passion people hold for Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley. Play the videos below to get a glimpse of our unique type of mountain living.

Now it’s your turn. Whether you decide to visit for a few days or a few decades, this mountain town is ready for you.

Dig Deeper

Learn more about what it’s like to set up shop in Gunnison Crested Butte.

Love Where You Live


Has your job recently become remote? Gunnison is the perfect paradise for remote workers with over 2 million acres of public land. Enjoy a career where you can spend your off time in the great outdoors.


Uncover stories from Gunnison Crested Butte’s business leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs. 

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