Regional Lakes and Reservoirs:
Ridgway State Park, 28555 Highway 550, Ridgway, CO: 970-626-5822
Besides the ever popular fishing on the reservoir, there are picnic and playground areas for the children. Ridgway State Park offers tent camping, RV spaces and Yurt camping. Activities include hiking on 14 miles of trail, picnicking, birding with 140 species of migratory & resident birds that have been observed in the area, bike riding, swimming, and wildlife viewing. The Park hosts four “Geocaching” sites that are logged and registered at www.geocaching.com. The water on the Uncompahgre River below the dam is the only open water that is not catch and release or restricted to “flys only” in Colorado.
Silver Jack Reservoir, Uncompahgre National Forrest
For the Silver Jack Campground: from Cimarron, Colorado, take Highway 50 east, 2.2 miles to Forest Service Access/SilverJack Reservoir sign. Turn right onto the gravel road and go 6.1 miles to the intersection (RDP 77). Trun left onto RDP 77 which is rocky and rough in places and go 11.2 miles to the campground sign. Follow signage directions.
The 300 acre Silver Jack Reservoir is located 1.9 miles south of the Campground.
Curecanti National Recreational Area:
Located on Highway 50, approximately 45 miles east of Montrose and 10 miles west of Gunnison, Curecanti National Recreation area offers multiple activities for the outdoors enthusiast. From hiking, camping, fishing and boating, Curecanti is a weeks adventure in Western Colorado.
The Curecanti National Recreation Area was established in 1965, with the completion of the Blue Mesa Dam. Blue Mesa Reservoir is the largest lake in the State of Colorado. There are three reservoirs in the Park, which forms the Wayne N. Aspenall Storage Unit, named after the long serving Congressman, a champion of Colorado water needs. These three dams are tasked with water storage for down stream irrigation, electricity generation, habitat mitigation, and flood control.
Blue Mesa Dam Area:
The 390 foot high earth and rock filled dam is the first large dam built on the Gunnison River. Completed in 1964, the dam created a reservoir of 20 miles in length with 96 miles of shoreline. Water storage is the primary goal of the Blue Mesa Dam. Fishing options are great at Blue Mesa, from fishing the Gunnison River at the inlet to the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River, Blue Mesa has multiple options for the angler.
Morrow Point Dam Area:
Morrow Point Dam is located in the upper Black Canyon of the Gunnison. This 468 foot tall, hollow arch dam was finished in 1968. The dam was the second phase of the Curecanti Project, later renamed the Wayne N. Aspenall Project, designed for water storage and power generation on the Gunnison River. The site of the dam is at river level 200 feet wide, expanding to 550 feet in width at the top of the dam. The power generation phase of construction was completed in 1972.
Morrow Point Boat Tours, a 90 guided tour into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison which departs from the Pine Creek Boat Dock below the Blue Mesa Dam. For information and reservations: 970-641-2337.
Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area:
Bureau of Land Management ,2465 S. Townsend Avenue, Montrose, CO: 970-240-5300
Below the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. Consisting of 62,000 acres and 22 miles of the Gunnison River, additional protections are provided for plants and animals of the area. Recreational uses include: trout fishing, hiking, mountain biking, camping, horse back riding, and limited off highway vehicle use, whitewater and flat water boating, and hunting for big game, upland birds & water fowl. At the center of the Gunnison Gorge NCA is the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area. The Wilderness Area consists of 14 miles of river. The boundary starts at the border of the Black Canyon National Park and extends down stream to one mile below the confluence of the Smith Fork and the main branch of the Gunnison River. Because of the nature of the Wilderness Area, access by motorized vehicles is prohibited.
Boating at the Gunnison Gorge:
Since the River is in the Wilderness Area one must hike the last mile from the boundary off of Chukar Road down the one mile long Chukar Trail. The BLM reports that Chukar Road is a rough four-wheel drive road to the wilderness boundary. All gear and boats must be transported over the trail to the river. From Chukar to Red Canyon, the first six miles, the rapids are Classed II and III. In miles 7 & 8, the difficulty increases to Class III and IV. The most challenging mile of the river is mile 9, which starts at the “S Turn” with Class III and IV rapids. After the Grand Finale the canyon widens out and the last four miles have a Class rating of I & II rapids. Check with the Montrose BLM Office for the latest information on boating the Gunnison River: 970-240-5300
Detailed information at: www.blm.gov/co/st/en/nca/ggnca.html (Gunnison Gorge Brochure and Map)