Gunnison is rather like a home on the range surrounded by ski areas and a national park. The city, which feels like a cattleman’s town, is the kind of place where you don’t feel like a tourist as much as somebody visiting the folks.
It’s a great base camp for exploring a treasure trove of natural and man-made attractions. To get there, you probably have to cross Monarch Pass, where you’ll find good skiing in winter. Head north from town and you’ll end up in Crested Butte, famous for its extreme terrain.
But head west and the valley drops away into the Curecanti National Recreation Area, Blue Mesa Reservoir and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The reservoir, Colorado’s largest man-made lake, in the summer is full of canoes, sailboats, pontoon and motor boats, and people water-skiing, fishing, even parasailing in the refreshing water. Summer celebrations also honor the area’s Western roots, and the dominant entree on dinner menus is steak.