Situated along the western slopes of the continental divide, and centered at the convergence of many valleys in Colorado's Rocky Mountains, Gunnison is a literal wide open playground for riders and is also now wide open for visitors as well! College town vibes combined with 750 miles of trail within a 30 minute drive of downtown, as well as an incredibly diverse selection of natural resources available for any manner of recreational pursuit makes for a quintessential one-stop-shopping opportunity for visitors. The seat of Gunnison County is home to nearly 6,000 residents and welcomes many times that in visitors in a normal year. While COVID-019 has obviously flipped the script on the entire planet, things are slowly but surely trending upward, which means that those who have been eagerly awaiting to plan some trips are now able to do so, and Gunnison is just as eagerly awaiting you and your bike.Lay of the Land:
Gunnison may sit at the floor of a valley, but its elevation of just under 8,000 feet above sea level usually means that Spring and Summer temps are comfortable, with only the month of July averaging high temps in the 80's. While many may pass through town on their way to the mountain playground that is Crested Butte, Gunnison itself is home to two distinct and sizable trail networks: Hartman's Rocks
and Signal Peak
. Both offer primarily XC-oriented, high desert riding, and both are an easy pedal from town. Hartman Rocks
is home to over 40 miles of singletrack, providing opportunities for beginners and advanced riders alike. Trails work their way through sage brush, granite formations, and groves of cottonwood. For advanced riders, Freefall
is a must ride. You can also string together Ring Dike
, and Beck's
for all of the granite you can handle.
The area's latest addition, Signal Peak
, is going to be a bit more mellow, but still plenty of fun, with close to 30 miles of singletrack and trails geared toward the more intermediate rider. Head up Ridgeline before descending on Chicken Wing
, a 2 mile descent with big views and high speeds.
For full on adventure shredding, Monarch Crest and Fossil Ridge
are close by and offer up a very different scale of riding compared to the networks in town and are just a short drive east of town. Hitting those rides in early Autumn would be a pretty optimal life choice.What's New:
The City of Gunnison is the namesake seat of the county, and is home to nearly 6,000 full time residents. In addition, Western Colorado University is located here, with 3,000 students in total, most of whom are pursuing undergraduate degrees. WCU has a Division-2 mountain bike program, and has begun racking up national titles in recent years, and is one of the university's more unique draws for prospective students. WCU also houses a co-working space called The ICElab. Funded with support from a combination of private donors, as well as federal and state agencies, Gunnison, Crested Butte and the surrounding communities, ICElab is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and internet and includes office and open co-working space, fully equipped conference rooms, and a cafe. It has also proven to be a draw for long-term visitors looking to remain productive while working remotely and enjoying the trails in the Gunnison-Crested Butte region.
The apres shred scene has seen an uptick in recent years, with establishments including The Dive and Alpine Brewing leading the way. As is the case with the rest of the country, masks are always appreciated and are encouraged when visiting local businesses. Local Bike Shops:
Gunnison is home to four separate shops, which include Doubleshot Cyclery
, Rock 'n Roll Sports
, Tomichi Cycles
, and All Sports Replay
. All four offer comprehensive service and bike rentals, as well as sales and extensive knowledge of the local riding. Additionally, just down the road in Crested Butte is one of the nation's leading adaptive sports programs, the Adaptive Sports Center
.Local Mountain Biking Clubs:Gunnison Trails
is a non-profit trail advocacy organization established to assist land managers and other organizations and stakeholders, in maintaining existing trails, educating users on responsible trail-based recreation and pursuing new opportunities for biking, running and hiking trails which promote sustainable trail use throughout Gunnison County.
The Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association
are obviously responsible for trails in Crested Butte, but they also maintain Doctor Park, a popular trail equidistant to both Gunnison and Crested Butte. Restaurants and Accommodation: The Dive
and High Alpine
are both heavily involved in the local riding scene. If you're keen on caffein, your best bets are Doubleshot Cyclery (coffee, beers, and bikes) and Tributary Coffee Roasters
. Other "Gunni" staples include Gunnisack
, W Cafe
, and The Firebrand
. These places might not be quite as involved with the mountain bike community, but are well worth the visit nonetheless.
Gunnison has been opening lodging options in phases per state guidance, and assuming that the measured approach continues, they should be 100% open to visitors by July. The Inn at Tomichi Village
and Wanderlust Hostel
are two independent names in Gunnison. VRBO and Airbnb searches will yield plenty of results, and of course there are always the big name brand lodging options available. Must Dos:
If you fancy yourself a fan of wildlife, then you're in the right place. The Gunnison Valley is one of the best places in Colorado for spotting wildlife. Large herds of elk and mule deer roam the valley during the winter and can often be seen right from the highway. During the spring and early summer the Gunnison Valley is a stop-over point for every sort of migratory bird from the common robin to rare hawks and owls.
If you’re looking for the best time of year to come sightseeing for wildlife it’s hard to beat the early fall. During this time of year animals are more active as they look towards the coming winter and the hardship it will bring. Bears are easily spotted out looking for berries and nuts in the drainages, around town, and elk and mule deer group into huge herds in anticipation of the rut. This is the time to see the impressive sight of 200+ elk crossing a mountain pass bugling and fighting as they move towards the pastureland in the valleys.
Autumn in Gunnison is out of this world, particularly when the aspen groves begin to burst into gold, so plan accordingly.
For detailed ride itineraries and how to get the most out of your time in Gunnison, visit CBGtrails.com
, Gunnison-Crested Butte’s official trail recreation hub.Gunnison mountain biking trails