There are more than one million acres of forest, trails and streams found in Gunnison National Forest which is part of the United States Forest Service. The forest is in the western Colorado counties of Saguache, Mesa, Hinsdale and Gunnison. The north side of the forest is bordered by White River National Forest and the Uncompahgre and Grand Mesa on the west. The east borders San Isabel National Forest while the south is bordered by the Rio Grande National Forest.
The Gunnison National Forest shares Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness with the San Isabel and White River National Forests. The San Isabel shares the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area with the forest which was created during 1905 by President Roosevelt. The original name of the forest was Cochetopa Forest Reserve and is now named for John W. Gunnison who was an explorer.
The office for the Gunnison National Forest is located in the Delta and has local district offices for rangers in both Paonia and Gunnison. The address for the forest is at 216 North Colorado Street. Gunnison, the man that the park is named for went through the area during 1853 trying to find a route for the railroad through the Continental Divide.
The Gunnison National Forest has over one and a half million acres of public lands and over one hundred thousand acres of private land in the boundaries. The forest has more than twenty peaks that are more than 13,000 feet and two over 14,000 feet high. During 1976 the Uncompaghre, Grand Mesa and Gunnison National Forests were all combined to form one park.
The majority of campgrounds found in the park are designed to accommodate small trailers up to eighteen feet in length and tents. The usual limit for staying at a campsite is fourteen days and there bulletin boards located in the campground that state the limits placed on staying in the campgrounds. Specific information about the campsites can be obtained by contacting the forest service. There are recreational sites in the park, some of which charge fees which are noted on the entrance signs.
Gunnison National Forest offers a number of tunnels and trails for the enjoyment of its visitors. There are actually hundreds of trails that range from easy and moderate to all day trails for the more experienced hiker. Forest Service offices can provide additional information about the trails and maps of the area. Visitors can also purchase postcards, books and maps at the offices from the Interpretive Association. These can also be purchased from the information office at the Chamber of Commerce.
Anyone in the area of Gunnison, Colorado that enjoys nature and wants to walk where explores once walked should visit the Gunnison National Forest in order to get the full effect of the beauty in the area. Those that require information about permits and fees charged at the Gunnison National Forest should contact the Colorado State or Federal Park Service to obtain the details about which permits they need and what they cost.