Taylor Park, Colorado offers a vast mountain playground managed by the US Forest Service for all types of recreational activities. Located on the west side of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Taylor Canyon is home to the Taylor Reservoir and Taylor River. The Collegiate Peaks are famous for the group of mountains over 14,000 feet tall. With plenty of camping sites, both developed and more primitive, it’s a great home base to spend a week during the height of summer.
Taylor Park Recreation
Taylor Canyon offers a fabulous spot for the water enthusiast. With great fishing, you can spend days trying different spots and catching more than your share of big fish. If whitewater is more your thing, local rafting outfitters can set you up for an exciting day of riding the rapids.
If you’re more of a land-based adventurer, Taylor Park is famous as the home of Doctor Park Trail. It’s one of the best mountain bike descents in the world– a fast and furious 6 miles from the top all of the way down to the Taylor River below. If you’re into motorsports, rent an ATV or jeep and explore the roads less traveled. Hikers will find that the hiking in Taylor Canyon is second to none. Horseback riding and rock climbing are also popular things to do during the summer months. To fit everything in, you’ll want to plan on a week at Taylor Park. Or, you just may have to come back again!
Taylor River Fishing
The Taylor River has many distinct sections. The headwaters of the Taylor (above Taylor Reservoir) is a classic high alpine stream that meanders under majestic views of the Collegiate Peaks. The water is a small to medium size stream with ox bows, long riffles, runs and some nice pocket water. There is a large number of streams that feed the upper stretch and offer wonderful fishing opportunities.
The sections below the dam to Almont is referred to as the Upper, Middle & Lower Taylor. These sections offer approximately 12 miles of public water with easy access off County Rd. 742. The character of this section is technical fast pocket water with sporadic riffles and runs. The fast moving water can make for difficult wading at levels above 250 c.f.s. Check the water level.
The most notable part of the Taylor is the .4 mile of water below Taylor Reservoir. This section is host to some of the largest stream-born trout in the lower 48 states. Their large size is attributed to the tail-water from the dam providing a constant food source year round, the bulk of which is the protein rich Mysis Shrimp. Catch and release regulations are in effect on this portion of the river and it is fishable year round. Due to the enormous size of the fish (many over 10 lbs) this section also receives a lot of pressure so be prepared for crowds. The fish are wise and wary and conditions can be cold and windy, this can make for some difficult, but very rewarding fishing .Find a Fishing Guide
Taylor River Rafting
Commercial rafters run mid-morning and afternoon trips and local kayakers enjoy running the Taylor as much of the summer as the flow rates allow.
Rafting trips on the Taylor River take place below the dam on the “Upper,” “Middle,” and “Lower” Taylor. Rated Class III, full length trips are recommended for people ages 10-12 and up with a guide. The Taylor Canyon itself offers dramatic scenery unlike any other you’ll find in the Gunnison Valley. High canyon walls and tall, dark green pine trees provide enough eye candy for even reluctant rafters. For families with younger children, some local outfitters offer trips of just the Lower Taylor, the most mild section.
If you’re interested in captaining your own boat, some outfitters offer duckie trips with guides. These inflatable kayaks are more stable and great for beginning boaters.Search Rafting Outfitters
One of the quickest ways to access Taylor Park from outside the valley is via Cottonwood Pass Rd. Although it is always closed in the winter, it will also be closed during the summer of 2017 and 2018 while road crews pave the dirt section on the Gunnison Valley side. For more information on road closures and driving directions check out our Getting Here page.
Many of the other roads around Taylor Canyon lead to some of the Gunnison Valley’s most scenic former mining towns: Pitkin, Ohio City, and Tincup.
At an elevation of 9,242 feet, 28 miles northeast of Gunnison on the Quartz Creek, lies Pitkin, an 1880s mining town. Originally named Quartzville, after Quartz Creek which winds its way through the center of town, Pitkin was Colorado’s first mining camp west of the Continental Divide.
The town, which is situated on an alpine meadow one mile long and one quarter mile wide, was incorporated on August 11, 1879, when it was renamed Pitkin after Governor Frederick W. Pitkin. Continuous discovery of mines in the vicinity brought Pitkin to life and sustained it for many years. Today, a visit provides a real taste of the mining history of the area. Enjoy historic Victorian and Georgian architecture, with many of the original buildings still standing and in good repair. Hunting, fishing, hiking, motor sports, and horseback riding adventures await.
Follow Quartz Creek along County Road 76 to Ohio City, traveling the scenic route of the old Denver & South Park Railroad line. Few mining towns had more demises and re-births than did Ohio City. Gold gave the town its start in the early 1860s and shut it down when it ran out. The silver boom of 1879 brought miners back until 1893 when the boom collapsed—and so did the town. In 1896, prospectors found the lode that was the source for the nuggets found in the ’60s and Ohio City was again re-born. Mining operations continued until about 1916.
Continue on County Road 765 (Cumberland Pass) in the non-winter months to the “wicked little town” of Tin Cup and learn about the colorful history of another great Western mining town. Books and information can be found at the General Store.
Where to Stay
The Taylor Canyon offers plenty of great camping sites, ranging from developed campgrounds to wide spots in the road where you can pull off for primitive camping on some of the 4-wheel drive roads. In addition two developed campgrounds exist along Taylor Reservoir, with several others located in other locations in Taylor Park. If camping isn’t your thing, but you still want to stay near the activities and fun of Taylor Canyon, our Almont Lodging partners offer great options, including private cabins, rustic lodges, and a dude ranch.