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Things to do in Gunnison

This small city of 6,000 people is named for John Gunnison, a U.S. Army officer who surveyed for the transcontinental railroad in the 1850s. It’s the larger and more affordable place to live than its neighbor to the north, Crested Butte, and while it lacks direct access to the Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Gunnison is a worthy destination for outdoors lovers.

Water sports and fishing enthusiasts will find a beautiful playground on the cold waters of nearby Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest body of water in Colorado. Campgrounds can be found all along its shores. Drive a little farther west to reach Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, where the highest cliffs in Colorado dwarf the Gunnison River far below. Hikers can stroll along the rim or even climb down into the canyon.

Mountain-bikers will find thrilling singletrack in the Gunnison area. Try Hartman Rocks for a true taste of what the area has to offer. Hikers and backpackers can explore two of Colorado’s lesser-known wilderness areas, Fossil Ridge to the east and the West Elk to the west. The latter is home to the bizarre cliff formations known as The Castles, which can be seen via a five-mile hike up the Mill Castle Trail to Storm Pass. Solitude and wildlife abound in this area.