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Gravel biking

Ride the dirt roads in Gunnison and Crested Butte, Colorado

In recent years, gravel biking in Colorado and beyond has quickly taken off. Whether you’re riding a gravel-specific bike, a road bike, a mountain bike or an e-bike, there are dirt roads in Gunnison and Crested Butte that offer stunning views and a great workout.

Most gravel riding in the Gunnison Valley is done on forest roads and county roads. There are 1,169 miles of bike-able National Forest service roads in Gunnison County. In fact, 36% of Forest Service dirt or gravel roads in Colorado are located in Gunnison County. BLM and county roads account for hundreds more miles.

Roads can be easily linked to create day loops or multi-day bikepacking routes of nearly any length for beginner, intermediate and advanced gravel bikers. In true Colorado fashion, much of the gravel biking in Gunnison and Crested Butte tends to be remote and adventurous.

colorado gravel biking

Where to Gravel Bike in the Gunnison Valley

Gunnison

Gunnison is the epicenter of gravel roads in the Gunnison Valley, and one of the best places in Colorado for gravel biking and bikepacking. Just three miles from Gunnison, Hartman Rocks boasts access to hundreds of miles of gravel roads through unique high-desert rock formations. The dirt roads south of Gunnison form a spiderweb of potential routes that span from Blue Mesa Reservoir to Highway 114 to Monarch Pass. The distinctive features here are spiny granite rock formations, small canyons and fields of sagebrush. Wildlife, including birds of prey, bighorn sheep and the Gunnison sage-grouse, thrive here. In addition to the distinctive sagebrush, many beautiful desert plants and wildflowers are native to Gunnison’s ecosystem. Insects, especially butterflies, are a common sight in the spring and summer. 

Gravel bike routes in Gunnison

Browse routes and plan your gravel bike ride in Gunnison.

Gunnison on Trailforks.com

Pitkin, Taylor Park, Tincup and Ohio City

There are hundreds of miles of Gunnison National Forest roads to explore on the east side of the Gunnison Valley between Taylor Park and the small towns of Tincup, Pitkin and Ohio City. You’ll be rewarded with views of the Elk Mountains, Fossil Ridge and the Sawatch Range. These charming small towns are rich with mining lore, old railroads and historic buildings from the pioneer days. General stores, restaurants and cabin rentals provide respite during the summer. 

Crested Butte

Mountain biking got its start on the dirt roads in the Gunnison National Forest surrounding Crested Butte. These days, most mountain bikers have taken to singletrack trails, leaving the roads for gravel bikers. There are several popular gravel bike routes in Crested Butte. Pearl Pass is a chunky, steep 4×4 road that eventually pops out near Aspen. Smooth, mag-chloride-coated Kebler Pass, which runs west towards Paonia, is a higher-traffic but easier option. Paradise Divide is another challenging gravel ride that tops out over 11,000 feet. Most roads around Crested Butte are quite difficult. Many are rocky and loose. It’s a good idea to use a bike with wider tires in this zone. Get ready for high elevation, thin air and epic mountain views. 

Gravel Bike Routes in Crested Butte

Browse gravel bike rides in Crested Butte

Crested Butte on Trailforks.com

Gravel biking route ideas

Start planning your next ride

Looking for route ideas? Follow pro gravel cyclist Nick Gould in this video series featuring some of his favorite gravel rides in the Gunnison Valley. 

The Gunni Grinder

A challenging Colorado gravel bike race

The Gunni Grinder is a gravel bike race held in Gunnison every September. 120-, 60- and 30-mile route options are available. The course explores the beautiful, remote dirt road system south of Gunnison and ends in town. This event is a challenging and fun way to explore the pristine canyons and vibrant high-desert ecosystem unique to Gunnison via bike. You’ll also love the affordable hotel options and laid-back downtown scene in Gunnison.

Colorado gravel biking in Gunnison

Gravel Road Maps

Colorado and U.S. Gravel Road Maps

There are several online resources for digital maps to the roads surrounding Gunnison and Crested Butte. Click the button below to view map options for every type of gravel biking adventure. 

Gunnison National Forest Road Maps

Planning on gravel riding on Forest Service roads during your trip to Gunnison Crested Butte? Check out the maps below to help you plan your route.

Bike Shops in Gunnison Crested Butte

Find a bike shop near you

You can use any kind of bike—gravel, mountain, road or electric—to explore the gravel roads around Gunnison and Crested Butte. Whether you’re looking to buy gear, rent a bike, repair your equipment or gather route ideas, the folks at the Gunnison Valley’s bike shops can help.

Other types of cycling

In addition to the rugged gravel roads, the Gunnison Valley also has more than 800 miles of singletrack trails. Learn more about mountain biking, or find the best places in Crested Butte and Gunnison to ride an e-bike.

Gravel Biking Trail Tips

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