About the Valley

Western Colorado University sits in the heart of Colorado's Rocky Mountains.

Western's campus is situated in the City of Gunnison, affectionately known as the “base camp” of the Rocky Mountains. With an elevation of 7,700 feet, Gunnison is home to an ideal backyard laboratory for a variety of sciences. The Rocky Mountains provide a rich and varied geologic environment, while the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, founded by early Western professor John Johnson, Ph.D., provides a high-altitude biological field station on the remains of an abandoned mining town. Nearly 80 percent of Gunnison County’s 3,239 square miles is federally owned land, making it an ideal environment for field work.  

In addition to its scientific opportunities, the Gunnison Valley also provides an abundance of recreational ones—including mountain biking, rafting, fishing and climbing. The Town of Crested Butte is located just 28 miles north of Western’s campus, and offers world-class skiing during the winter and spectacular wildflowers and festivals throughout the summer.  

The Gunnison Valley also provides a wealth of culture and entertainment. From downtown art galleries, to the four-day Crested Butte Film Festival and Cattlemen’s Days, (the “Granddaddy of Colorado Rodeos,” which began in the 1800s) there’s something for everyone to enjoy.  

With its unique opportunities, the best way to get to know Gunnison is to see it for yourself. Schedule a campus visit, or register for an official preview day event. Additional information about lodging is available from the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association. We can’t wait to welcome you to the valley.

Click the photo below for a slideshow of views from the Gunnison Valley

High alpine lake