Learn More about Gunnison

Home to Western State Colorado University, the city of Gunnison has grown into a thriving recreation mecca. With deep roots in ranching, Gunnison once served as the summer hunting grounds for the Ute tribe, and is still known for its access to world-class fishing and elk hunting. In the city, small boutiques and diverse restaurants line main street, and Gunnison has developed a thriving arts scene. The area surrounding Gunnison offers rolling pastures, hills of sagebrush, and several National Recreation Areas and Parks.

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History

Originally occupied by the Ute people since the 16th century, Gunnison was established as a silver mining camp by Captain John W. Gunnison on his expedition west in 1853. It wasn’t until the mining surge in the 1870s, and subsequent arrival of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in 1881, that the population boomed and a city developed. Gunnison expanded into a trade center for coal and silver mining and ranching.

Gunnison county was established in 1877, one year after Colorado gained statehood, and Gunnison narrowly missed being named the state capital. In 1911, the State Normal School opened as a prep school for teachers, which eventually became Western State Colorado University.

For the brave of heart, you can explore the Alpine Tunnel—once the highest railroad tunnel in the world, now a portal to Colorado’s mining history. You will see ghost towns like Ohio City and Pitkin that offer a well-preserved glimpse into the rich mining history of the area, as well as the ruins of Woodstock, a town that was completely wiped off the map by an avalanche in the 1880s.

History

Originally occupied by the Ute people since the 16th century, Gunnison was established as a silver mining camp by Captain John W. Gunnison on his expedition west in 1853. It wasn’t until the mining surge in the 1870s, and subsequent arrival of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in 1881, that the population boomed and a city developed. Gunnison expanded into a trade center for coal and silver mining and ranching.

Gunnison county was established in 1877, one year after Colorado gained statehood, and Gunnison narrowly missed being named the state capital. In 1911, the State Normal School opened as a prep school for teachers, which eventually became Western State Colorado University.

For the brave of heart, you can explore the Alpine Tunnel—once the highest railroad tunnel in the world, now a portal to Colorado’s mining history. You will see ghost towns like Ohio City and Pitkin that offer a well-preserved glimpse into the rich mining history of the area, as well as the ruins of Woodstock, a town that was completely wiped off the map by an avalanche in the 1880s.

Gunnison Today

Gunnison’s ranching history remains an important aspect of the county’s identity, but with the opening of the Crested Butte Ski Resort and surrounding national reservoirs and forests, the economy is now largely reliant on tourism and recreation. Up to a quarter of the county’s employment is in the leisure and hospitality sector, reflecting the huge draws of fly fishing, rock climbing, mountain biking, hunting, and other outdoor pursuits.

Western Colorado State University has brought a cosmopolitan vibe to the city, with a a wonderful variety of shops, and an increasing number of good restaurants as well as a thriving arts scene.

Gunnison Today

Gunnison’s ranching history remains an important aspect of the county’s identity, but with the opening of the Crested Butte Ski Resort and surrounding national reservoirs and forests, the economy is now largely reliant on tourism and recreation. Up to a quarter of the county’s employment is in the leisure and hospitality sector, reflecting the huge draws of fly fishing, rock climbing, mountain biking, hunting, and other outdoor pursuits.

Western Colorado State University has brought a cosmopolitan vibe to the city, with a a wonderful variety of shops, and an increasing number of good restaurants as well as a thriving arts scene.

Winter

Gunnison County is nestled in a valley surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, which results in some of the coldest weather in the state. However, with the persistent sunlight and plethora of outdoor activities, the cold has not hampered the wide variety of options available to residents and tourists during the winter months.

Only a 35 minute drive to Crested Butte ski resort and less than an hour from Monarch Mountain, Gunnison is perfectly situated to enjoy world-class alpine skiing. Other winter activities include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

Winter

Gunnison County is nestled in a valley surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, which results in some of the coldest weather in the state. However, with the persistent sunlight and plethora of outdoor activities, the cold has not hampered the wide variety of options available to residents and tourists during the winter months.

Only a 35 minute drive to Crested Butte ski resort and less than an hour from Monarch Mountain, Gunnison is perfectly situated to enjoy world-class alpine skiing. Other winter activities include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

Summer

Gunnison comes alive in the summer, with a variety of outdoor activities for all—whether you are a biker, camper, hunter, boater, climber, hiker, or simply an explorer, there is truly something for everyone.

Gunnison County is home to over 1.5 million square miles of national forests, recreation areas, and conservation areas. The Blue Mesa Reservoir offers all varieties of water activities, and the Black Canyon and Hartman Rocks Recreation Area of the Gunnison National Park is a rock climber’s mecca, with over 8,000 acres of sculpted granite. For mountain bikers, there are 750 miles of trails.

Love the outdoors but prefer a slower pace? The area is home to world-class fishing along the Gunnison and Taylor Rivers, elk hunting, and breathtaking mountain vistas like those found along the West Elk Loop scenic byway.

Summer

Gunnison comes alive in the summer, with a variety of outdoor activities for all—whether you are a biker, camper, hunter, boater, climber, hiker, or simply an explorer, there is truly something for everyone.

Gunnison County is home to over 1.5 million square miles of national forests, recreation areas, and conservation areas. The Blue Mesa Reservoir offers all varieties of water activities, and the Black Canyon and Hartman Rocks Recreation Area of the Gunnison National Park is a rock climber’s mecca, with over 8,000 acres of sculpted granite. For mountain bikers, there are 750 miles of trails.

Love the outdoors but prefer a slower pace? The area is home to world-class fishing along the Gunnison River, elk hunting, and breathtaking mountain vistas like those found along the West Elk Loop scenic byway.

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