Gunnison National Forest covers a whopping 1,672,136 acres in Central Colorado. Its consists of a variety of wilderness terrain, covering vast distances in some secluded places places like Crested Butte and Gunnison.
There’s a lot of federal land to take advantage of within the Gunnison National Forest. Soak in the fall colors while driving on Kebler Pass in Crested Butte. Access a myriad of magnificent trails in the mountains around Gunnison County.
Activities: Biking, Boating, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Hunting, Picnicking, OHV, Scenic Drives, Winter Rec – Cross Country Skiing, Snowmobiling, Snowshoeing
Camping – Countless Forest Service-managed campgrounds and free dispersed camping options exist.
- Read about the camping near Crested Butte and Kebler Pass.
- Read about the camping near Almont and Taylor Park Reservoir.
- Read about the camping near Gunnison and Blue Mesa Reservoir.
- Read about the camping near Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford.
- Read about the hiking trails near Gunnison.
Scenic Drives – There are a slew of scenic drives within the Gunnison National Forest. Cottonwood Pass pass begins just east of Almont, which is north of Gunnison. It winds it’s way over to the San Isabel NF and Buena Vista.
Camping is easy to spot on the drive. From there you can continue north onto Kebler Pass, a stunning seasonal 2WD cruise from Crested Butte to Paonia. Camping, hiking and off-highway-vehicles are commonplace.
Or head south to Gunnison to drive the Silver Thread Scenic Byway. This stunning highway connects US 50 at Blue Mesa Reservoir with US 160 and South Fork to the south. It passes by Lake City and Creede. The route passes 3 national forests.
Those with high clearance four wheel drive should consider the notorious Tincup Pass. It’s a gnarly 4×4 pass over the Continental Divide near Pitkin. It connects with Saint Elmo ghost town near Buena Vista, on the other side. There is lots of camping around Pitkin. An easier 4WD road is Waunita Pass.
It’s a shorter pass connecting Pitkin with Waunita Hot Springs. Dispersed camping can be found on most of the drive. Other recreation includes biking, hiking, and 4×4/ATV roads. To access, take County Road 887 from Doyleville or go right over the pass from Pitkin. Bowerman is a one shack ghost town on the drive.
Wilderness Areas – The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is one of Colorado’s original national wilderness areas designated in 1964. It contains six of the toughest 14’ers in Colorado to summit. Part of it’s located in the White River National Forest.
Map: Gunnison N.F. (shown in dark green) (.png)
Motor Vehicle Use Maps: Large, PDF’s from the USFS. They show forest service roads and where dispersed camping is permitted.
- Panoia – Paonia, Crawford
- Gunnison – North – Crested Butte
- Gunnison – South – Almont, Pitkin, Gunnison, Lake City
Gunnison Campgrounds: Reservations