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 Taylor Reservoir and the Taylor River. With options for traditional lodging or camping, it’s a great home base to spend a week during summer or fall.
Taylor Canyon is 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 enjoy mountain biking, 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, explore the road less traveled by renting an ATV or Jeep. 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 spending at least a week at Taylor Park. Or, you just may have to come back again!
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 are a large number of streams that feed the upper stretch and offer wonderful fishing opportunities.
The Taylor River between Taylor Park Dam and Almont offers approximately 12 miles of public water with easy access off County Road 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 before you go. It’s also a good idea to call or stop in at a local fly-fishing outfitter to chat about conditions.
The most notable part of the Taylor is the .4 mile of water just below the dam. 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 pounds), this section also receives a lot of pressure, so be prepared for crowds. The fish are wise and wary. This can make for some difficult but very rewarding fishing.
The Taylor Park Dam regulates the flow of the river throughout the summer, giving the Taylor one of the longest boating seasons of any river in western Colorado. Commercial rafting companies run trips on the Taylor several times a day. Kayakers and private boaters are also a common sight.
Commercial rafting trips on the Taylor River take place below the dam on the “Upper,” “Middle” and “Lower” Taylor. The “Upper” Taylor section is rated Class III, while the “Middle” and “Lower” sections are more mellow. Taylor Canyon itself offers dramatic scenery unlike any you’ll find in the Gunnison Valley. High canyon walls and tall, dark green pine trees provide enough eye candy for even reluctant rafters. Rafting trips are also offered on the Gunnison River between Almont and Gunnison.
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. Rentals of equipment such as stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) are also available.