Gunnison Community Profile
About our town.
From entrepreneurs to engineers, collegiates to cowboys, Gunnison is a diverse community. Its citizens thrive in this harsh yet beautiful mountain environment, making due in a place where winter whiteouts and sub-zero temperatures are common. "Gunnisononians" are resourceful, hardworking and love where they live.
Long before today’s residents settled in, Ute Indians roamed the area’s valleys and mountains. As early as 1810, fur traders (AKA mountain men) came to the region in search of animal pelts. The 1860’s brought placer miners to the rivers and streams. Sylvester Richardson, regarded as the founder of Gunnison, established a colony along the Gunnison River in 1874. Hopes of establishing a farming community were dashed as these early settlers learned the hardships imposed by a 70-day growing season. Ranching quickly emerged as the agricultural mainstay of the region. Silver brought tens of thousands to the area during the 1870s and 80s and Gunnison developed into a smelting, railroad and supply town. After the turn of the century, coal and cattle ruled the area.
Today, Western State College is a major employer, as are the county hospital, City of Gunnison and the recreation industry.
If playing outdoors isn’t your bag, then Gunnison isn’t your town. With the possible exception of body surfing, there’s something for every enthusiast. The area holds bragging rights to what many consider to be the country’s best fly-fishing and big game hunting. Snow sports are the hot ticket during winter, while warm summer months provide some of the most scenic hiking and camping in the Rockies. Bird watchers will enjoy sighting an American Bald Eagle or Red Tailed Hawk, while botanists will delight at the bloom of summer wildflowers throughout the local mountains. Whether you like to "Rage in the Sage" or pedal leisurely along a country road, cycling here is as good as it gets. White water rafting and kayaking is a hoot. The Gunnison Parks and Recreation Department provides opportunities for field and court sports during summer months, ice-skating and hockey in the winter.
So you say you want a little culture? There are galleries, the Pioneer Museum and the Gunnison Center for the Arts. The local cinema plays at least two recently released films each week. Rock, blues, country or jazz may be the featured live fare at any of several venues in town. Hungry?
From fast to gourmet, Gunnison restaurateurs provide a wide variety of eats. Want to shop ’til you drop? Whether you’re looking for fashion or function, hardware or software, it’s here. Pick up some giblets for your bike, a new sweater for mom, a Stetson for dad, a book on home repair and a pair of polar fleece socks all within a few blocks’ walk around downtown Gunnison.
Welcome to the Gunnison Country. If you’ve been here, you know that on its coldest days, this small town on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies is one of the warmest and most hospitable anywhere. If you live here, you know what makes this a unique and special place.
Gunnison Community Profile By Toni M. Todd