Collaboration Connects More Residents to Outdoor Winter Recreation Opportunities

Given the on-going impact of COVID-19, the Gunnison Valley finds itself preparing for a unique winter. This summer, easy access to trails, parks, and open space provided residents the opportunity to responsibly recreate and socialize. The winter season is expected to present additional challenges for residents, including increased feelings of isolation. Additionally, the change in operations at ski resorts is expected to shift how and where people recreate, steering more people to the backcountry and Nordic ski trails.

In anticipation of these challenging changes, Met Rec sought to: support community partners in a collective effort to connect more residents to outdoor winter recreation opportunities, reduce local barriers to engaging in outdoor winter recreation pursuits, and promote safe and responsible outdoor recreation for residents and visitors.

To do this, key stakeholders came together to brainstorm how their work could meet these needs.  Met Rec leveraged funding for the cause by contributing a two to one dollar match, up to $30,000. The Town of Crested Butte and Gunnison County contributed to the collaborative effort. As a result, the 2021 Outdoor Winter Recreation Initiative (Initiative) was developed. Four partners have found creative ways to expand their programs and operations to meet community needs this winter. Initiative partners include the Crested Butte Avalanche Center, the City of Gunnison, Gunnison Nordic and Crested Butte Nordic.

Here are some of the Initiative outcomes you can take advantage of this winter…

Expanded After School Nordic Programming in Gunnison & Crested Butte

  • Gunnison Nordic & City of Gunnison Youth Nordic Ski Program (5-13-year old’s):

          December 9th, 16th & 23rd / January 11th – February 10th (Mondays & Wednesdays)

          Free equipment provided for participants • Scholarships available

                              Visit to register

  • Crested Butte Nordic Youth Nordic Program (7-18-year old’s)

          December 8th – March 11th (two days a week)

                              Free equipment provided for participants

                         Visit for more information

Expanded Adult Winter Recreation Programming

  • Gunnison Nordic Adult Nordic Ski Sessions

          Small Group Classic or Skate Ski Sessions

               December 23rd, 30th & Jan. 6th

                        Email to register

  • Gunnison Nordic & City of Gunnison Senior Friendly Winter Recreation Outings

                         Visit for more information

Expand Community Outreach Programming

  • Crested Butte Nordic will expand their Community Outreach program developed to familiarize groups with Nordic skiing. Having partnered with Emigrantes Unidos de Gunnison in the past, Crested Butte Nordic plans to expand this program by engaging more groups. This program provides participants access to free equipment and Nordic passes, outdoor winter clothing, instructors and transportation to Nordic venues in Gunnison and Crested Butte.


Promote safe and responsible outdoor recreation for residents and visitors

The Crested Butte Avalanche Center (CBAC) will launch a Community Outreach Program aimed at increasing avalanche awareness among Gunnison Valley residents and visitors. The new program will provide the following services this season:

  • Trailhead Days: CBAC staff will provide a human presence at trailheads to remind backcountry users of proper etiquette and the importance of checking the daily avalanche forecast.
  • Fireside Chats: A season-long speaker series developed to provide detailed updates on the “state of the snowpack” as well as current trends in avalanche education and backcountry travel.
  • Youth Outreach: Avalanche awareness events will be held for Gunnison and Crested Butte youth in partnership with Western Colorado University, Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team, the Gunnison High School and the Crested Butte Community School.
  • Public Outreach: Five free and open to the public Avalanche Info sessions will be held to engage and introduce backcountry recreationists to more formal avalanche education opportunities.
  • Avalanche Hazard Signage: Signage indicating the current avalanche hazard rating will be installed and maintained at the entrance to the Town of Crested Butte and at key trailheads.
The 2021 Outdoor Winter Recreation Initiative