Gunnison National Forest

Gunnison County, Colorado is home to more than two million acres of public land. Most of that public land is part of Gunnison National Forest and is managed and protected by the United States Forest Service. The forest offers many recreation opportunities for visitors and locals including hiking, hunting, fishing, skiing, mountain biking, camping, OHV and horseback riding. This land and the recreation it offers is one of the greatest assets of the Gunnison Valley.

Forest Recreation

The forest is used by many people for a variety of activities. Know what activities are allowed and where before you go. Abide by all posted signs and maps in the different regions of the forest.

There are parts of five different designated wilderness areas in 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 scenic trails for hiking, backpacking and horseback riding. Hunting and fishing are also allowed in some 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, such as 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.


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