On the west side of the Rockies 130 mi/210 km southwest of Denver, Gunnison, Colorado, shares the mining and ranching heritage of many Colorado towns.

Today, Gunnison sits near the large Blue Mesa Reservoir, formed by a dam on the Gunnison River, and is a gateway to world-renowned mountain biking and hiking territory. The reservoir, as well as several other lakes farther downstream, are part of the Curecanti National Recreation Area, where fishing and boating are big activities.

In winter, Gunnison and Crested Butte are popular for alpine skiing and snowboarding at Crested Butte Mountain Resort as well as snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. Warm-weather activities include hiking, climbing, mountain biking, boating, whitewater rafting, kayaking, fly-fishing, camping and horseback riding.

In town, visit the Pioneer Museum (open Memorial Day-Labor Day), where you'll find artifacts from the 1800s in a handful of restored buildings, including a railway depot. There are also collections of antique cars and vintage telephone/telegraph equipment.

You can make trips to ghost towns in the surrounding area and see Alpine Tunnel, an abandoned passage bored through the Continental Divide (30 mi/48 km east of Gunnison on County Road 839). It's open for self-guided tours in the summer.

The best attraction in the Gunnison region is about 35 mi/55 km west of the town: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park contains 12 mi/19 km of some of the steepest, most intimidating canyon walls anywhere in the world. The visitors center is located on the south rim.

Continue west on Highway 50 to Montrose to see the interesting Ute Indian Museum that contains tribal clothing and artifacts. It's located on a farm once owned by the Ute leader Ouray.

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