Curecanti Recreation Area lies west of Gunnison and features dramatic canyons and the largest lake in Colorado, Blue Mesa. The reservoir follows Highway 50 for twenty miles at its fullest.
Numerous recreation sites exist across this vast park, which continues north on Highway 92 just after the lake. From here it traces the North Rim of the Black Canyon.
Boating: Blue Mesa is open to power boats. Crystal and Morrow Point Lakes are open to hand carried craft.
- Blue Mesa is 20 miles long with 96 miles of shoreline. There are several explorable arms of the lake that reach into secluded canyons; 2 marinas and numerous boat access points.
- Morrow Point Lake can be reached by the Pine Creek Trail, which descends over 200 stair steps.
- Morrow Point Boat Tour – 1.5 hour tour through the upper Black Canyon. Tours run from June through Labor Day, Wed-Mon, 10am and 12:30pm, by reservation only. Call or in person at Elk Creek. Walk-ons not permitted. $16/Adult, $8/Child(under 13)
- Crystal Lake access is at the Mesa Creek Trail, near Cimarron.
Camping: Yes, 10 campgrounds, 400 sites, some reservable, some first-come first-serve.
- Lake Fork, Stevens Creek, Cimarron open until snows/freezing.
- Elk Creek is open year round and has some electrical hookups.
- Backcountry camping in some areas. Both primitive boat-in and hike-in sites exists.
- Red Creek and East Elk are reservable group campgrounds.
Fishing: Blue Mesa has year round fishing. Flies and artificial lures are permitted at the East Portal of the Gunnison River.
Hiking: Pets are permitted on trails, but no bikes. 7 hiking trails vary from 1.5 to 6 miles round trip. Two lead to camping at Morrow Point Lake.
- Crystal Creek – 5 mi roundtrip – nature trail to overlook.
- Hermit’s Rest – 6 mi ” – leads to campsites at Morrow Point Lake.
- Curecanti Creek – 4 mi ” – steep trek to camping at Morrow Point.
- Mesa Creek – 1.5 mi ” – trail follows Crystal Reservoir.
- Pine Creek – 2 mi ” – stairs into black canyon that follows creek.
- Dillon Pinnacles – 4 mi ” – views of geological formations.
- Neversink – 1.5 mi ” – an easy stream side trek.
Horseback Riding: Horses are allowed on the lower section of Dillon Pinnacles Trail, which accesses the West Elk Wilderness north of Curecanti. The Dry Gulch and Ponderosa campgrounds have horse corrals and trails that access additional state and national land.
Hunting: Permitted in certain areas during legal seasons.
Swimming: Although there aren’t any official beaches, swimming is permitted in the cold Blue Mesa lake.
- Cross Country Skiing – Dillon Pinnacles, Red Creek and East Elk Creek or the surface of Blue Mesa.
- Ice Fishing – Try the Iola Basin of Blue Mesa.
- Ice Skating – Good on Blue Mesa Res before a heavy snowfall.
Address: 102 Elk Crk, Gunnison
Season: Year round
Elk Creek VC Hours: Year round
- Fall/Winter – 8am-4pm, Wed-Sun
- Spring – 8:30am-4pm, daily
- Summer: 8am-6pm, daily
Cimarron VC Hours: mid May thru Sept
- 9am-4pm, intermittently
Fees: No entrance fees
Pets: Yes, on leash