Gunnison, Colorado

By | March 26, 2023

According to TRAVELATIONARY, Gunnison is located in western Colorado, nestled between the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains. It is a picturesque city with a population of about 6,000 people. The geography of Gunnison is characterized by its location at the confluence of two rivers—the Gunnison and the Taylor—and its proximity to several mountain ranges, including the West Elk Range and the San Juan Mountains. The climate in Gunnison is semi-arid with cold winters and warm summers.

The history of Gunnison dates back to 1853 when it was founded as a mining camp by William Pabor. In 1881, it became an incorporated town and was later named after John W. Gunnison, an explorer who had surveyed much of western Colorado during his lifetime. Over time, Gunnison has grown into a vibrant community that embraces its rich cultural heritage while also embracing modern amenities and opportunities for growth.

Politically, Gunnison County leans mostly Democratic with presidential elections usually favoring the Democratic candidate by wide margins. The city’s economy relies heavily on tourism as well as on agriculture and ranching industries which have been part of its landscape since its inception. There are numerous schools in and around Gunnison, including Western State Colorado University which is located right in town.

Gunnison has many landmarks that make it unique including Curecanti National Recreation Area which features several reservoirs along with plenty of outdoor recreational activities such as boating, fishing, camping, hiking and biking trails; Hartman Rocks Recreation Area where visitors can explore over 7500 acres of public land; Blue Mesa Reservoir which is Colorado’s largest body of water; Black Canyon National Park which boasts some spectacular views; Crested Butte Mountain Resort where skiing enthusiasts come to enjoy some great runs; and downtown Gunnison where you can find plenty of restaurants and shops to explore while taking in the historic buildings that line Main Street.

Gunnison is located at 210km southwest of Denver. Gunnison shares the mining heritage of many Colorado towns. Nowadays, it sits near the large Blue Mesa Reservoir, formed by a dam on the Gunnison River. The best attraction in the Gunnison region is about 55km west of the town: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park contains 19km of some of the steepest, most intimidating canyon walls anywhere in the world. The cliffs drop as much as 2,700 ft and are made up of dark-colored schist and granite.

Population: 5,409. Estimated population in July 2020: 5,298 (-2.1% change)
Males: 2,952 (54.6%), Females: 2,457 (45.4%)

Gunnison County

Zip codes: 81230.

Median resident age: 23.7 years
Median household income: $25,768
Median house value: $143,500

Races in Gunnison:

  • White Non-Hispanic (89.7%)
  • Hispanic (6.9%)
  • Two or more races (2.6%)
  • Other race (1.8%)
  • American Indian (1.8%)
  • Black (0.8%)

(Total can be greater than 100% because Hispanics could be counted in other races)

Ancestries: German (21.7%), Irish (15.2%), English (12.6%), Italian (7.2%), United States (5.5%), French (4.0%).

Elevation: 7703 feet

Land area: 3.2 square miles

Gunnison, Colorado


Gunnison, Colorado is a small town located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. With a population of 5,854 people, it is the county seat of Gunnison County and home to Western State Colorado University. The town has a rich history, dating back to its founding by ranchers and miners in 1879. The population is diverse, with a mix of Native American, Hispanic, and European descendants. The median age for residents is 37 years old and the median household income is $44,095.

The town of Gunnison has many different attractions to offer its residents and visitors alike. The town center boasts numerous restaurants, bars, and shops which cater to locals as well as tourists from all over the world. There are also plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking trails around Blue Mesa Reservoir or mountain biking on Hartman Rocks Recreation Area. In addition to these activities, there are also several museums that showcase local history such as the Gunnison Pioneer Museum or the Old West History Museum. For those looking for more adventurous activities, there are plenty of rafting trips down the Gunnison River or skiing opportunities at Crested Butte Mountain Resort nearby.

For population 25 years and over in Gunnison

  • High school or higher: 90.0%
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 38.5%
  • Graduate or professional degree: 11.3%
  • Unemployed: 9.2%
  • Mean travel time to work: 14.1 minutes

For population 15 years and over in Gunnison city

  • Never married: 54.6%
  • Now married: 31.9%
  • Separated: 1.4%
  • Widowed: 4.2%
  • Divorced: 7.9%

2.6% Foreign born (1.3% Europe, 0.6% Latin America).

Population change in the 1990s: +773 (+16.7%).


Hospital/medical center in Gunnison:


Other hospitals/medical centers near Gunnison:

  • ASPEN VALLEY HOSPITAL (about 46 miles; ASPEN, CO)


Airports certified for carrier operations nearest to Gunnison:

  • GUNNISON-CRESTED BUTTE REGIONAL (about 2 miles; GUNNISON, CO; Abbreviation: GUC)
  • ASPEN-PITKIN CO/SARDY FIELD (about 47 miles; ASPEN, CO; Abbreviation: ASE)
  • MONTROSE REGIONAL (about 66 miles; MONTROSE, CO; Abbreviation: MTJ)

Other public-use airports nearest to Gunnison:

  • CRAWFORD (about 50 miles; CRAWFORD, CO; Abbreviation: 99V)
  • MINERAL COUNTY MEMORIAL (about 51 miles; CREEDE, CO; Abbreviation: Q39)
  • NORTH FORK VALLEY (about 52 miles; PAONIA, CO; Abbreviation: 7V2)

Colleges and Universities

College/University in Gunnison:

  • WESTERN STATE COLLEGE COLORADO (Full-time enrollment: 2,199; Location: 600 N. Adams; Public; Website:

Other colleges/universities with over 2000 students near Gunnison:

  • COLORADO MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (about 72 miles; GLENWOOD SPRINGS, CO; Full-time enrollment: 3,400)
  • ADAMS STATE COLLEGE (about 104 miles; ALAMOSA, CO; Full-time enrollment: 4,147)
  • FORT LEWIS COLLEGE (about 107 miles; DURANGO, CO; Full-time enrollment: 4,051)
  • MESA STATE COLLEGE (about 118 miles; GRAND JUNCTION, CO; Full-time enrollment: 4,415)
  • UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT COLORADO SPRINGS (about 136 miles; COLORADO SPRINGS, CO; Full-time enrollment: 4,953)
  • COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES (about 146 miles; GOLDEN, CO; Full-time enrollment: 3,183)
  • RED ROCKS COMMUNITY COLLEGE (about 147 miles; LAKEWOOD, CO; Full-time enrollment: 3,835)


Public high schools in Gunnison:

  • GUNNISON HIGH SCHOOL (Students: 348; Location: 800 WEST OHIO; Grades: 09 – 12)
  • GUNNISON VALLEY SCHOOL (Students: 29; Location: 600 NORTH 8TH; Grades: 09 – 12)

Public primary/middle schools in Gunnison:

  • GUNNISON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (Students: 533; Location: 1099 NORTH 11TH; Grades: KG – 05)
  • GUNNISON COMMUNITY SCHOOL (Students: 289; Location: 1099 NORTH 11TH; Grades: KG – 08)
  • GUNNISON PRESCHOOL (Students: 40; Location: 800 NORTH BOULEVARD; Grades: PK – PK)


Library in Gunnison:

  • GUNNISON COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY (Operating income: $426,625; Location: 307 N WISCONSIN; 28,757 books; 1,377 audio materials; 1,147 video materials; 179 serial subscriptions)