Home to Western Colorado University, the city of Gunnison, Colorado has grown into an outdoor recreation travel destination. The treasure trove of public lands surrounding Gunnison are a haven for cyclists and water sports enthusiasts. Mountain biking can trace its roots back to early races held in Gunnison in the 1980s. Gunnison still retains and honors its historic tradition as a ranching town, too.
Check out our Gunnison FAQ guide for more information on this laid-back biking town. Keep reading to learn more about things to do and where to stay during your Gunnison, Colorado vacation.
Bike or walk your way around Gunnison’s cozy downtown, centered at the intersection of Highway 50 and Highway 135. Home to quite a few live music venues, Gunnison offers concerts several nights per week all summer long. The Gunnison Arts Center and the I Bar Ranch are the big ones. More intimate venues include the restaurants and bars that spread out from downtown. Visual arts fans will also enjoy the Arts Center’s offerings. Be sure to check out the galleries and shops along Main Street, too. Check out our events calendar to pair up events with your Gunnison, Colorado vacation!
The Gunnison Valley is home to over 800 miles of mountain bike trails. A good portion of that is in and around Gunnison. Hartman Rocks and the Signal Peak area offer trails that are rideable from town. The Gunnison Growler mountain bike race kicks off the summer riding season in May, but riders take to the dirt as soon as the trails dry out in spring, usually sometime in April. During winter, explore the groomed fat biking trails at Hartman Rocks via a fat bike.
Beyond the mountain biking, Gunnison is also the perfect home base to access the likes of Curecanti National Recreation Area, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and Blue Mesa Reservoir–Colorado’s largest lake. The fishing in Blue Mesa and in the Gunnison River is some of Colorado’s best. The fall kokanee salmon run is a bucket list item for many fishermen.
The Gunnison Valley offers great boating as well. The Taylor River and the Gunnison River are both popular spots for whitewater rafting in spring and summer. The Gunnison Whitewater Park offers a chance to practice on man-made features. Blue Mesa Reservoir offers the opportunity to wake board, water ski, windsurf, and flat-water kayak.
No mention of Gunnison would be complete without talking about Western. Established in 1901, Western Colorado University is a public, liberal arts university with a private-college feel. Western students come to Gunnison from across the U.S. for a personalized, hands-on education in an adventurous mountain setting.
Academic programs at Western include fine arts, natural sciences, business administration, recreation and outdoor education, environmental studies, exercise science, and energy-related fields. The new Paul M. Rady School of Computer Science and Engineering further expanded Western’s academic offerings. Graduate degrees, various pre-professional studies and specialized programs also are offered.
Student life includes the NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic program and the opportunity for skiing, bicycle racing and other outdoor pursuits through the Mountain Sports program.
Western is a crucial part of Gunnison’s economy and community. Students remain a part of that community long after graduating as alumni. For a student’s perspective on why the Western experience is exceptional, check out this Never-Never Land Episode profiling Peter Noon. He’s a straight-A student with a passion for all of the recreational opportunities in Gunnison.
As you’re planning a place to stay during your Gunnison, Colorado vacation, choose between large chain hotels, a hostel, private cabins and everything in between. Gunnison lodging offers a great value compared to most other Colorado destinations. Enter the date of your trip into the booking tool below to filter by price and amenities.
Gunnison offers a wide variety of laid-back, affordable dining options. Whether you’re looking to relax in a coffee shop or grab a post-ride bite to eat at a mountain-biking-themed restaurant, you’ll find a great place to eat in Gunnison.