• Curecanti National Recreation Area

    Curecanti

    National Recreation Area Colorado

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    Please be aware that the road could close again if winter conditions or rock slides exist.

Horseback Riding

TRAILS

Dillon Pinnacles Trail
Horses may be ridden on the lower section of Dillon Pinnacles Trail. Pack animals are also allowed on this section of trail. This trail may be used to access the West Elk Wilderness north of Curecanti.

The trailhead is located next to Highway 50, just north of Middle Bridge. Horse trailers may be parked at the trailhead. Towing vehicles and trailers may be left in the parking lot overnight. Hitching posts are not available, either at the trailhead or along the trail.

This trail is moderately strenuous with a round trip distance of 4 miles, (6.4 km). It climbs 600' (185 m) in elevation. No water is available, and there is little shade. The trail proceeds in a westerly direction along the base of a hill above the shoreline of Blue Mesa Reservoir and turns northward and winds up though Dillon Gulch. Partway up the gulch, the trail swings westward at a junction with an un-maintained trail. At this point, an unimproved, unmarked trail continues northward which leads into the West Elk Wilderness.

Dry Gulch
An un-maintained trail extends northward from Dry Gulch Campground by campsite 10. This trail provides access to Bureau of Land Management land, the Sapinero State Wildlife Area, and the Gunnison National Forest. Check at local agency offices for rules pertaining to use of horses in these areas. Access to these areas is also available on a primitive road north of East Elk Creek Group Campground.

US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management in Gunnison: (970) 641-0471
Division of Wildlife in Gunnison: (970) 641-0088.


CAMPING

Dry Gulch Campground
There are two corrals available. They are located west of campsites #3 and #4, in a grove of cottonwood trees, which provides shade. Water is available seasonally. Horse trailers should be parked at individual campsites. Horse corral dimensions »

Ponderosa Campground
There is one large corral, in the middle of the upper campground loop, adjacent to campsites #1 through #7, with a minimal amount of shade. There are also hitching posts north of the corral and loading ramps. Water is available seasonally. Horse trailers should be parked at individual campsites. Bear-proof trash containers are provided.

If corrals are filled beyond capacity, prefabricated portable corrals may be erected on the outside perimeter of Dry Gulch campground, west of the creek, but not along the shores of Blue Mesa Reservoir. During times of overflow, portable corrals may also be set up at Red Creek Campground. They must also be outside the perimeter of the campground on the west side of the creek, but not along the shores of Blue Mesa reservoir.

Note: Corrals are also available at Soap Creek Campground, managed by the US Forest Service, Gunnison Ranger District.


General Rules for Horse Use

  • Any other use of horses or pack animals is prohibited unless authorized by a grazing use permit approved by the superintendent.
  • All hay used for livestock feed or bedding must be certified as weed free in compliance with Montrose or Gunnison County Standards.
  • Grazing is prohibited.
  • There are no hitching posts available along any trails or at trailheads.
  • Picketing, hobbling or tying livestock to natural features, such as trees, bushes or rocks, is prohibited.

Recommended Procedures
To help insure a safe, pleasant visit for your horse, yourself and other visitors to this area, please observe the following suggested practices.

  • Stay on the approved, pre-existing trails at all times.
  • Always carry a first aid kit for you and your horse.
  • Carry adequate water for you and your horse. Water may not be available on the trail.
  • Walk your horse. Moving at faster gaits increases trail erosion and endangers hikers.
  • Always alert hikers when you approach them. Ask them to yield the trail. Be prepared to give them instructions on how to behave around your horse. Ask them not to pet or feed your animal. Warn them if your horse kicks or bites.
  • Pass other trail users only when and where it is safe to do so.
  • Do not tie horses to trees, bushes rocks, or other natural features.
  • Clean up after yourself. Pack out all litter. Remove horse manure from the trail and scatter it. Remove manure and excess hay from corrals and dispose of it properly.
  • Bears reside in this area. Store horse feed in proper containers, and secure it inside a vehicle.
  • If you discover serious trail damage or a fire, notify a park ranger immediately.
  • If your animal is injured or dies on a trail, notify a park ranger immediately.
  • If your horse gets loose, and you are unable to catch it, notify a park ranger as soon as possible.

Did You Know?

Lake Trout

The largest recorded Lake Trout in Colorado was taken from Blue Mesa Reservoir in May 2007. It’s size was a gigantic 50.35 pounds and it measured 44.25 inches.