U.S. HIGHWAY 50
Traveling west from Gunnison, U.S. Highway 50 brings you into Curecanti. The highway follows the path of the Gunnison River. Stop and have a picnic, fish, or walk by the river at Neversink or Cooper Ranch. After passing through the Gunnison River Canyon, you come upon Lake City Bridge and the Iola Basin of Blue Mesa Reservoir. The landscape opens up into high altitude (7,500 feet) sagebrush steppe. Reminders of a volcanic past are evident in the mesas and breccia surrounding you.
NPS photo by Lisa Lynch
Beyond Iola, stop at the Elk Creek Visitor Center (16 miles west of Gunnison). Stop at the old Highway 50 beach, .25 miles west of the Elk Creek entrance, and take a swim or enjoy the view. Continuing west, you will pass the Cebolla Basin; keep your eyes open for the Bighorn Sheep that frequent the area.
After crossing Middle Bridge, the Dillon Pinnacles are in full view. Cross the Lake Fork Bridge, over the longest arm of the reservoir, to arrive at the junction of Colorado Highway 92 and Highway 50. Twenty miles west, visit the historic town of Cimarron where the Denver Rio Grande Narrow Gauge railroad exited the canyon. Turn at the Cimarron Visitor Center to see the railroad exhibits and see the Morrow Point Dam.
Back on Highway 50, head west to Montrose but make sure to stop at the south rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, just a 5 mile drive north on Colorado Highway 347.
NPS photo by Lisa Lynch
COLORADO HIGHWAY 149
CO Highway 149 can also be reached via the Blue Mesa Road or Lake City Cutoff Road. Both are dirt roads suitable for cars in good weather. From Highway 50, find the Lake City Cutoff Road shortly after Middle Bridge, or Blue Mesa Road further west after passing the junction of Highways 92 and 50.
NPS Photo by Lisa Lynch
COLORADO HIGHWAY 92
Pioneer Point offers great views of the Curecanti Needle and Curecanti Creek. Golden Eagles, Turkey Vultures, other birds and wildlife are common sights. Get a great view of the canyon at Hermit's Rest Overlook or take a hike to an overlook that begins on Highway 92 at Crystal Creek. Continue west to the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
NATIONAL FOREST ACCESSES
Consult the BLM or the USFS for regulations regarding recreational use or consult the USFS Gunnison Basin Area map for information on trails and 4-wheel drive roads.
SOAP CREEK ROAD
RED CREEK ROAD
RAINBOW LAKE ROAD
Did You Know?
The average precipitation at Curecanti is only 12" a year, which is why there are few trees around Blue Mesa Reservoir.