Gypsum’s outdoor offerings beckon hikers, bikers and more
Parks and trails provide opportunities for outdoor fun
Sponsored by the Town of Gypsum
In a county mostly known for its high-altitude winter sports, Gypsum has always had a reputation as the down valley banana belt – a wide-open setting that’s got more in common with the weather and lifestyle of Western Slope than the Central Rockies.
And over the years, Gypsum’s status as an outdoor playground for hikers, golfers and both motorized and non-motorized wheeled pursuits has grown. From a Pete Dye-designed 18-hole course to miles and miles of trails and more than a dozen city parks and recreation facilities, the warmer environment out west has become a year-round draw.
Off-roading a big draw in Gypsum
Taylor Slaugh, communications and marketing manager with the Town of Gypsum, says that Gypsum has become particularly popular for both the motocross and Jeeping communities, especially as upvalley trail and National Forest access has become more limited.
“We’re definitely a big moto spot, with trails and parks for Jeeps and ATVs – we’ve really got you covered,” Slaugh says. That includes both the 160-acre Dry Lake Motocross Park, one of Eagle County’s best destinations for dirt bikers, as well as the Gypsum Hills OHV and 4×4 recreation area – both located on the north side of I-70.
Rocky Mountain Sport Riders, which manages the Dry Lake park, is a family-friendly motorcycle club dedicated to motocross, as well as advocating for continued trail access for riders. That’s not a problem at the club’s vast facility, where tracks are plowed, prepped and watered down every weekend, but open to riders seven days a week. Both day and season passes are available to riders of all abilities at http://www.rmsrco.com, and those passes and club memberships help keep the trails and park in great condition.
Challenging and exciting off-roading is also the big draw at the Gypsum Hills Recreational Area, which enters Bureau of Land Management territory, just up Trail Gulch Road. There, four-wheelers, mountain bikers and hikers can find a huge variety of terrain and trails to test their skills, on both well-established 4×4 routes and designated OHV paths for more adventurous exploration. Like any other off-roading area, remember to stick to the posted trails and be considerate in your travels.
Non-motorized enthusiasts have also found lots of opportunities for hiking and mountain biking in Gypsum, with some 96 acres of open space designated around the community. Slaugh says the Town of Gypsum has recently had a huge push to create new trailhead signage and directional signage in the Hardscrabble Recreation Area, with trails that also connect to the Town of Eagle’s trail system.
And, unlike other public trail systems further east, motorized access is also allowed on portions of those trails. The Spring Creek Road trailhead allows motorized access, in addition to hikers, bikers and equestrian users; the Buckhorn Valley trailhead is for non-motorized access only. Buckhorn Valley users are also reminded that access is through private property and a trail access waiver is required, available on the Town of Gypsum’s website (http://www.townofgypsum.com/play-explore). The Red Hill Recreational Area, accessible from Highlands Road, Legend Drive and Cottonwood Pass Road, also offers a range of mixed-use recreation for hikers, bikers and motorized users.
Gypsum Shooting Sports Park
Also on the north side is Eagle County’s largest firearms facility, the Gypsum Shooting Sports Park, located at 100 Gun Club Road. Operated by the Eagle Valley Rod & Gun Club, the vast property offers a safe and enclosed opportunity for both newcomers and seasoned shooters to explore their skills on rifle, pistol and archery ranges. There’s also a specialized five stand setup, a shotgun sport that’s like a combination of skeet shooting and sporting clays.
The club offers a variety of educational events, competitions or just general shooting practice, with range officers on hand during the day to also make sure shooters are keeping things safe.
While a membership is certainly encouraged, the gun club is also open to the general public – non-members need to pay a $10 daily use range fee and sign a waiver at either the rifle or archery range when they check in. The Gypsum Shooting Sports Park is open from 8 a.m. to dusk, every day. Five-stand shooting events, open to both members and non-members, take place from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The Gypsum Creek golf course had a record-breaking year in 2020, Slaugh says, as COVID-19 encouraged more outdoor, physically-distanced activities, and golfers flocked to the course. It’s a more relaxed (and affordable) atmosphere than many other county courses, with lessons and some of the most scenic views around.
Other outdoor activities that have gained popularity in Gypsum include new pickleball courts, a busy skateboarding park and the Cross Creek disc golf course. Gypsum also has a wide range of access points for fishing and boating along the Eagle River, plus the ever-popular Dotsero take-out/put-in spot. The Gypsum Ponds State Wildlife Area is a vast, 90-acre stretch of Eagle River ponds and marshland, ideal for fishing, hunting and bird watching. And there’s always fishing and free camping around the LEDE Reservoir, high above town.