Curecanti National Recreation Area

Curecanti National Recreation Area is a series of three dams on the Gunnison River built to provide irrigation and electrical power. An added benefit is recreation with a little bit of history. It is a boating and fishing paradise.

The first lake is Blue Mesa Reservoir; the largest lake in Colorado is 20 miles long with 96 miles of shoreline. It has three large easy accessible basins or bays, Lola, Cebolla, and Saperino Each with a boat ramp. There are many narrows and arms that reach into inaccessible quiet canyons for you to explore by boat.

The Curecanti Needle

The second is Marrow Point Reservoir. This is a Fjord-like lake deep in the Black Canyon. It is only accessible by hand carried boats or the big tour boat.

The secret of Curecanti is the Marrow Point Boat Tour. It is most enjoyable 1 1/2 to 2 hours boat trip. You will feel you have been transported to the fjords of Norway. But this fjord is more beautiful and rugged that any I saw in Norway.

The Tour Boat

You will ride though the canyon on a large pontoon boats with a park ranger as a guide. You will learn the lake’s story and get a specttacular lake-level view of the famous 700-foot splinter known as the Curecanti Needle and two walls named Moses’ Tablets

The tour runs twice a day at 10.00 and 12:30 except Tuesday, Manorial day weekend thought thought Labor Day weekend. Reservations are required. No walk-ons. 970-641-2337 or at the Visitors Center. $16.00 for adults, $8.00 for children.

Meet the boat at Pine Creek Boat Dock. But a word of warning, the trail to the dock has 232 steps on a wooden stairway. The trip is well worth every step.

Be sure to bring a jacket, hat, water, sunglasses and sun block. Binoculars would be handy.

The third reservior is Crystal. It is accessible only by floating own the river from Cimarron Creek Trail. The fishing is spectacular. The sheer wall vertical shoreline, althought beautiful, present a danger if you capsize. You can’t climb out. The lake has only one small area for primitive camping at Crystal Creek.

Railroading History

The Cimarron Canyon Trestle

A little know side excusion is the Cimarron Railroad Exhibit. It is 1 mile off highway 50 at cimarron and it takes about 10 minutes. You will see The Railroad exhibit, The Gunnison River, and the backside of the Marrow Point Dam. It is very interesting and free.

The D&RG; Engine 278 exhibited at The Cimarron Canyon Trestle recalls the gory of the railroad era.

The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad line followed the Gunnison River thought the Black Canyon Narrows. It transported coal, cattle and other goods from 1882 to 1949.


Most people come to Curcanti for the good fishing. The Blue mesa holds Browns, Rainbows, Brook trout and Kokane salmon. The lake is noted for the outstanding lake trout fishing. It has produced some huge fish.


there is a abundance of campgrounds at blue mesa. Elk creek is the largest, but you will enjoy better camping at red Creek, Ponderosa, and Gateway. They are small and more secluded.

Curecanti’s Major developed campgrounds are Elk Creek, Lake Fork, Stevens Creek and Cimarron. Camping is allowed is designated areas only. All charge a fee.


The reservior has two Marinas. The marinas offer small grocery store, boat rentals, guide service, slips and showers. At Elk Creek Marina try Pappy’s restaurant on the hill. It has an excellent menu.


For more information contact: Curecanti National Recreation Area, 102 Elk creek, Gunnison, Colorado 81230, 970-641-2337.