The Gunnison Valley
Western's campus at an altitude of 7,700 feet sits nestled among the Colorado Rocky Mountains, creating a beautiful and inspiring locale. Our valley is a destination for those seeking an active lifestyle. You'll find many ways to test your limits in this breathtaking and rugged alpine playground. Our quaint mountain towns are safe, relaxing and offer something for everyone. Crested Butte, known as Colorado's “last great ski town”, is the official Wildflower Capitol of Colorado—and just 30 miles north of Western's campus.
Only minutes from campus is some of the world's best powder for skiing, granite faces for bouldering and climbing, miles of trails to hike and mountain bike and a whitewater park perfect for kayaking and rafting.
Small Mountain Communities
Gunnison and Crested Butte offer active art communities with lively theater, music and dance. Take advantage of the galleries featuring local, regional and national artists, community classes, concerts, movies and special events. Enjoy the many annual festivals including the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, Reel Fest Film Festival, Art in the Park, Cattleman's Days and various music festivals.
Living here also provides great opportunities for world class outdoor races and events. Compete in the, 24 Hours in the Sage mountain bike race, Crested Butte to Gunnison Mountain Air Marathon or a fly-fishing tournament.
The valley offers many dining options from breweries to fine dining as well as great small town mountain shopping in boutiques, galleries and recreational outfitters.
Western is just 30 minutes from some of the nation's best skiing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, and Monarch Mountain Ski Area. Enjoy the light-dry powder that Colorado is known for, without long lift lines and ski traffic.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort has 1,125 acres with 15 lifts, including 3 high-speed quads, and 121 trails. Beginners and intermediates find exceptionally varied terrain. Expert skiers know Crested Butte for its phenomenal backcountry area which offers the most lift-accessible extreme terrain in the country. Site of the U.S. Extreme Skiing Championships, this terrain was called “the best adventure skiing in Colorado” by Powder Magazine.
Monarch Mountain is 45 minutes from campus and sits on the Continental Divide, which means great powder days. Monarch is known for some of the best tree runs in the state and offers 800 acres of skiable terrain including Mirkwood Basin for extreme enthusiasts and backcountry snow cat skiing.
Nordic skiers will also find outstanding trails, some that are right in Western's backyard. Snowmobiling, ice skating, hockey and ice fishing are also great winter activities.
Spring and Summer Activities
Rafting, kayaking, boating, sailing, windsurfing, mountain biking, cycling and world class fishing are all within minutes of Western. As part of the Center for Outdoor Leadership, Western's Recreation and Outdoor Education majors annually host the Gunnison River Festival which includes kayak races, climbing competitions, food and music.
The 1.7 million acres of the Gunnison River Territory encompasses some of the wildest and most beautiful terrain in the world, including the Blue Mesa Reservoir, Hartman Rocks and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.