Ski Vacations in Colorado
BLACK CANYON of the GUNNISON
Black Canyon of the Gunnison is steeper than the Grand Canyon, but still has numerous options for beginning explorers. Follow the Rim Rock Trail (flat, 2 miles roundtrip) or the slightly trickier 1.5 mile Warner Point Nature Trail for magnificent views of the canyon and surrounding mountains. Or take a relaxing, ranger-led boat tour of the Morrow Point Reservoir for an up-close peek at the granite canyon walls (prepaid reservations required for boat tour; $15.00 adults, $7.50 seniors and children under 13; call 970-641-2337, extension 205). Both the South and North Rim drives offer amazing views from the car. North Rim Drive is the road less traveled, but South Rim has a dozen viewing stations along the way. $15.00 entrance fee per vehicle.
The GUNNISON PIONEER MUSEUM
The Gunnison County Pioneer and Historical Society had its beginning in 1880 with the early pioneers who settled in the Gunnison Valley. From its very beginning, the society stated its interest in preserving the rich history of the Gunnison County and by 1964, the Pioneer Museum was founded. The museum grounds, its 12 buildings, the artifacts and memorabilia that make up the many displays have been donated by generous members and friends of the society. Most of the items date back to the early settlers. The museum's collections truly represent the cultural history and heritage of the people of Gunnison County. Senior volunteers staff the museum and are happy to answer your questions as you browse the exhibits at your own pace.
- Open Memorial Day weekend through mid-September
- Monday through Saturday 9 am to 5 pm; Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm
- Admission: nominal fee
Hailed in the early 1880s as a marvel of modern railroad engineering, the Alpine Tunnel was unceremoniously closed in November of 1910. It was soon forgotten, except by the few locals who had worked on the line or had lived in the camps and towns that the tunnel served. It is now an abandoned railroad tunnel: a hole in the mountains that no one may enter. The tunnel is 1771 feet long with the apex of 11,523 feet. Those interested in historic Colorado, especially its railroad lore, will enjoy the abandoned narrow-gauge mountain railroad, the ghost mining towns and the panoramic splendor. Visit a time and era which has stood still in its easy, uncomplicated settings. Remains include the collapsed tunnel entrance, remnants of the snow shed which protected the approach to the tunnel, and the old railroad grade. The Palisades, located 2 miles below the west portal, is a wall of hand-cut fitted rock 452 feet long, 33 feet high and 2.5 feet thick. The wall served as a shelf for the rails - an amazing engineering feat in itself!
CURECANTI NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
Three reservoirs, named for corresponding dams on the Gunnison River, form the heart of Curecanti National Recreation Area. Panoramic mesas, fjord-like reservoirs and narrow canyons abound. Curecanti is just a few minutes drive west on Highway 50 from Gunnison. Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado's largest body of water and the largest Kokanee salmon fishery in the United States. Morrow Point Reservoir is the beginning of Black Canyon National Park, and Crystal Reservoir is the site of the Gunnison Diversion Tunnel, a historic civil engineering landmark.
Dinosaur fossils, a 5,000 acre archeological district, a narrow gauge train, and traces of 6,000-year-old dwellings further enhance the offerings of Curecanti. Wildlife viewing, whitewater rafting, wind surfing, swimming, star gazing (see the Milky Way with the naked eye), kayaking, nature walks, horseback riding, hiking, fishing (ice fishing too!), climbing, mountaineering, boating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and bird watching are just a few of the seasonal activities.
The Taylor River runs from Taylor Reservoir to majestic Taylor Canyon. The reservoir is located 30 miles northeast of Gunnison in Taylor Park. As you travel down County Road 727, keep your eyes peeled for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, spectacular granite cliffs (great for rock climbing) that tower above you, and the endless eddies. The Taylor Reservoir covers 2,030 acres of land and here you'll encounter the best dry fly fishing in America, according to the president of Orvis Fly Rods. Rainbow trout, mackinaw, occasional northerns and kokanee salmon inhabit the lake. Boats and supplies are available at the Taylor Park Boat House. Roads from the reservoir lead to Buena Vista via Cottonwood Pass and Cumberland Pass. Road 765 thru historic Tincup also offers splendid views.
GUNNISON VALLEY OBSERVATORY
Once upon a time in the little mountain town of Gunnison, Colorado, a big idea was started. Away from light pollution (our altitude @ 7,700 feet combined with relatively clear skies) and it's time to take a visual journey into the night sky! The Gunnison Valley Observatory intends to be a leader in the field of astronomy research and education in Colorado. The observatory houses the largest telescope in Colorado, making it an attractive choice for both amateur astronomers and educators alike. Offering personalized service while meeting the individual needs of each of its visitors the observatory has created unique opportunities in astronomy and science education. Star gazing parties can be arranged in advance. Located near Hartman Rocks in Gunnison, Colorado.
HARTMAN ROCKS MULTI-USE RECREATIONAL AREA
Hartman Rocks is a rugged ridge speckled with granite pinnacles. The 160 acre base area serves as a trailhead for the adjacent 8,000 acres of federal land. Outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to the area for its rolling sage brush terrain that makes for fun trail running, mountain biking and riding the range whether you are on your horse or dirt bike!
A rare plant, the Skiff Milkvetch, lives here and nowhere else in the world. Riparian areas are important for wildlife (nesting birds). The area is also critical winter range for deer and elk. Archeological sites up to 5000 years old are easily impacted by careless use. Gunnison Sage Grouse, which are in decline, use some portions of this area. Needing to find a way to enjoy this beautiful area without threatening its other inhabitants, some guidelines have been created:
- Stay on existing roads and trails
- Minimize the noise you make to avoid disturbing wildlife
- Leave no trace of your visit
- If visiting the area in winter, do not stress wildlife by chasing them
- If you find a closed gate on public land, please close it behind you
Offering a spectacular skyline, Hartman Rocks provides quality recreation opportunities for all to enjoy. It is a special place to visit for many generations to come.
Colorado's rich history is marked with the rise and fall of mining towns that once offered promising prospects to frontiersmen. The remains of these 19th century towns tell the story of what once was. Many such towns lie in the "Gunnison Country"- an integral part of any traveler's journey who has an affinity for the past!
For more information visit: Gunnison Crested Butte Ghost Towns or www.ghosttowns.com
THE ALPINE LOOP
Leave the pavement behind and venture into some of Colorado's most pristine wilderness. The Alpine Loop begins in Lake City and heads toward historic Silverton and Ouray. This drive crosses two high alpine passes lying at 12,000 feet. Both Cinnamon and Engineer pass lead you into acres upon acres of BLM and USFS land, offering ample opportunity for mountain biking, hiking and camping. Visit 7 historic ghost towns as you travel through the beautiful and rugged San Juan Mountains! Four-wheel drives only; full tank of gas necessary; closed in the winter. www.coloradobyways.org
MONARCH SKI AREA
Lose the lines, not your friends, at Monarch Mountain. This hidden gem lies at 11,961 feet along the Continental Divide in the Saguache Mountain Range. The ski area boasts 54 groomed trails for any level of skier from beginner to expert. Come enjoy pristine powder and beautiful views, and discover why all of the locals rave about Monarch Mountain! 1-888-996-SNOW www.skimonarch.com