196 miles SW of Denver, 161 miles W. of Pueblo, 65 miles E. of Montrose

A rough-and-ready Western town, Gunnison is a good central base for the outdoor recreation and natural attractions that abound in the Southern Rockies, whether it's hiking, boating, or hunting in the rugged mountains and canyons in the surrounding area. It's more blue-collar community than resort town, but that works to the benefit of budget-conscious travelers looking for a good meal and a place to hang their hat for the night after a wilderness expedition or day sightseeing.

Utes began hunting here about 1650, and although Spanish explorers probably never penetrated this isolated region, mountain men, who were pursuing pelts, arrived by the 1830s. First mapped by U.S. Army Capt. John Gunnison in 1853, the town was established in 1874, soon growing into a ranching center and transportation hub for nearby silver and gold mines. Established in 1911, Western State College now has an enrollment of 2,400 and was the first college in the United States with a certified technical-evaluation mountain-rescue team. Ninety percent of the all-volunteer team is made up of college students, with the remainder coming from the community. Gunnison sits at an elevation of 7,681 feet and its population is about 5,000.