What to See and Do
Hiking and Biking
The Chukar Trail provides a rather challenging trek that rewards you with amazing views of the gorge from the river below. The trail begins with a steep descent of 600 feet followed by a series of switchbacks that assist with the change in elevation. Further down, you'll encounter a section of steps that make the trail easier to traverse. The Chukar Trailhead is located past the Peach Valley Staging Area at the end of Chukar Road. Expect rough terrain on the last five miles of the drive, and four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended to reach the trailhead.
Length: 2.1 miles
The Ute Trail is a rugged out-and-back hike that starts on the edge of a ridge that winds east toward the Gunnison River. At the two-mile point, views of the river become evident from Precambrian granite cliffs that are followed by the steepest section of the trail. As you near the end of the path, there will be two campsites with picnic tables, shaded areas, and a vault toilet. A fee is required to hike this trail, and there's a self-serve fee station at the trailhead. The Ute Trail is located on Peach Valley Road.
Length: 4.5 miles
Fishing and Boating
The Gunnison River is known for its challenging whitewater rapids and the breathtaking black granite canyons that it flows through. Whitewater kayaking and rafting are permitted on the 14 miles of river in the wilderness with the proper permits. The Gold Medal waters of the Gunnison are also famous for their abundance of cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout.
Though there are no climbing routes in the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is full of some of the longest and most challenging climbs in Colorado.
Throughout this wilderness area, visitors are likely to see elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, river otters, and a variety of raptors. Bald eagles and Swainson's hawks are two species common to the area. Mammals such as ringtail cats and mountain lions remain mysterious inhabitants of the gorge and are rarely seen — though sightings are entirely possible.
The Gunnison Gorge Wilderness has three designated picnic areas: one off Ute Road before you officially enter the wilderness area, the second at the end of Duncan Road near the banks of the Gunnison River, and the third at the wilderness area's northernmost tip where the Gunnison River and the North Folk Gunnison River converge.
Off-Road Vehicle Riding
Within the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness, off-road vehicles such as ATVs and dirt bikes are granted access to two "open" recreation areas. The Flat Top OHV Staging Area offers riders a variety of routes that wind through a scenic desert landscape, and there's an area specifically designated for beginners. The second area in Peace Valley limits OHVs to a 50-inch width maximum, but qualified off-roaders have access to a training area, a skills course, and a beginner's loop. There's also trailer parking, vaulted toilets, picnic tables, and loading ramps at the 900-acre site.