A bridge on Highway 50 is under construction, affecting travel to Gunnison from the west. Learn more here.

Blue Mesa Reservoir and Curecanti National Recreation Area

Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest lake and the centerpiece of Curecanti National Recreation Area. Blue Mesa, which is formed by the Gunnison River, begins a few miles west of the city of Gunnison. It parallels Highway 50 for more than 20 miles to Blue Mesa Dam. Curecanti National Recreation Area also encompasses two other, smaller reservoirs—Morrow Point and Crystal. Fishing, boating and hiking are just a few of the many outdoor activities at Curecanti park. 

What is there to do at Blue Mesa Reservoir?

Blue Mesa activities

Fishing is the most popular activity at Blue Mesa Reservoir. Anglers seek lake trout and kokanee salmon. Motorized craft are allowed on Blue Mesa, so everything from pontoon boats and jet skis is a common sight. You can even rent a boat at several of the marinas. Afternoon winds make for great sailing and windsurfing on the lake. Paddle boarding and sit-on-top kayaking are tranquil ways to explore the scenic rock formations that line Blue Mesa’s shores. Thick ice builds up on the surface of the lake in winter, allowing for ice fishing and ice skating.

What is there to do in Curecanti Recreation Area?

Curecanti Park Activities

Curecanti National Recreation Area encompasses more than just Blue Mesa Reservoir. Aside from all the activities at the lake, there is abundant hiking in the park. A popular and easy-to-get-to hike is Dillon Pinnacles, which explores a spiky rock formation on Blue Mesa’s north shore. There are also several trails north of Blue Mesa on Highway 92, including Curecanti Creek trail at Pioneer Point, Hermit’s Rest and Crystal Creek. These trails offer a stunning look into the steep canyons that feed into Blue Mesa. You’ll hike from the rim of the canyon all the way down to the water. There are also several scenic drives around Curecanti, including the West Elk Scenic Byway and Slumgullion Pass near Lake City.

Blue Mesa Reservoir Boat Inspections

Bringing your motorized or trailered boat to Blue Mesa? You’ll need to comply with Colorado boat regulations for safety and to prevent the spread of invasive species. For information on boat ramps and watercraft inspections, visit the Curecanti NRA website. 

Blue Mesa Reservoir Camping

There are 11 campgrounds in Curecanti National Recreation Area, all close to Blue Mesa Reservoir. They are all developed campgrounds, meaning they have bathroom facilities and other amenities. Many can accommodate large RVs, and some even have a boat launch near camp. Some campgrounds take reservations; others are first-come, first-served. To learn more about camping near Blue Mesa, visit the Curecanti NRA camping page. 

Other public lands near Blue Mesa

Curecanti National Recreation Area is surrounded by even more of the Gunnison Valley’s abundant public lands. The West Elk Wilderness, which is part of Gunnison National Forest, borders the lake to the north. The Gunnison National Forest also extends south of Blue Mesa towards Lake City. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is Curecanti’s neighbor to the west. Hartman Rocks is just a few miles east of Blue Mesa, near Gunnison. If you’re looking for other lakes in the Gunnison Valley, you’ll also love Taylor Reservoir, located in Taylor Park near Cottonwood Pass. If you enjoy boating on Blue Mesa Reservoir, check out whitewater rafting and kayaking in Gunnison and Crested Butte, too. 

More things to do near Gunnison

Looking to explore beyond Blue Mesa on your trip to Colorado? There are tons of other outdoor activities nearby.

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