Experience the old west and get that home-on-the-range feeling in Gunnison, or “Gunny”, as most locals call it. This town, located just west of Monarch Pass and thirty miles south of Crested Butte, has maintained its roots thanks to the ranching families that have been grazing their cattle here for generations.
Jump into the action every July when Gunnison hosts Cattlemen’s Days, Colorado’s oldest and largest running rodeo (116 years!). Enjoy the same kind of boot-stomping entertainment that Gunnison pioneers did – bull riding and barrel racing, plus a country fair, dance concerts, and more.
If you’d rather play in the wilderness, there are multiple opportunities in the Hartman Rocks recreation area just five miles from downtown Gunnison. Among 8,000 acres of BLM land, recreationalists will find forty miles of single track, thirty-three miles of road biking, sixteen miles of Nordic skiing, thirty-nine miles for motorcycling, and more routes for climbing than almost anywhere in Colorado.
Craving a day on the water? Blue Mesa Reservoir is where you need to go. With ninety-six miles of shoreline, it’s the largest body of water in Colorado and the perfect place to boat, SUP (stand-up-paddleboard), or fish. Spend the day and catch a large trophy trout or dine by the marina.
Continue west of Blue Mesa Reservoir and discover the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, an aptly named national park due to its shadow-shrouded walls, which can appear black. View Black Canyon by car, by foot, or by rope – it’s a playground for climbers – and expose yourself to some of North America’s steepest cliffs, oldest rocks, and craggiest spires.
Whatever your reason for visiting Gunnison, you won’t feel like a tourist. This friendly, laid-back town will make you feel like a welcomed guests wherever you go.
Lindsay Diamond is a novelist and freelance writer living in the mountains of central Colorado. Visit writerlindsaydiamond.wordpress.com to learn more.
Photo Credit: Meridith Winkelmeyer