Blue Mesa Reservoir Colorado Fishing, Camping, Boating

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Blue Mesa Reservoir

Located south of Crested Butte along scenic Highway 149, the Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest body of water, with 96 miles of shoreline, boating, Gold Medal fishing and more.

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  • Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest body of water. 
  • The Reservoir has opportunities for boating, water skiing, fishing, hiking, camping and more. 
  • With the largest Kokanee Salmon fishery in the U.S. and Gold Medal & Wild Trout designated waters, Blue Mesa Reservoir and its creeks have excellent fishing and large trout. 
  • Blue Mesa Reservoir is an hour from Crested Butte, west of Gunnison along US-50 in Curecanti National Recreation Area. 
  • For more information, contact the Elk Creek Visitor Center at 970-641-2337 (ext. 205) or the Blue Mesa Marina at 1-877-258-6372.


The Blue Mesa Dam was built in 1965, flooding 20 miles of upstream river and providing water for agriculture, electricity and recreation. Today, with over 90 miles of shoreline, Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest body of water, as well as the largest Kokanee Salmon fishery in the U.S.


With small crowds, big trout and the largest Kokanee Salmon fishery in the U.S., Blue Mesa Reservoir’s fishing is so good that it’s been designated Gold Medal & Wild Trout Waters – an award given for areas with exceptionally good large trout fishing. In addition to the Reservoir itself, the creeks that feed into the Gunnison offer anglers a beautiful alternative. Local guides and the Elk Creek Visitor Center and Marina can provide more help, guided tours and up-to-date information on fishing.

Trollers connect with state-record-sized lake trout, ice fishermen enjoy targeting them and other species during the winter months and bait anglers do well from shore. With more than 750,000-active-acre-feet, this is a massive fishery.

  • Species at Blue Mesa: Blue Mesa offers a grab bag of action with kokanee, brookies, lake trout, rainbows, browns, suckers and perch swimming in its waters. The lakers typically steal the headlines as the state record was caught here...46-plus pounds.
  • Tricks Of The Trade: For a huge laker, guides suggest using jig tipped with sucker meat. Also troll with Flatfish or Rapalas in silver, white and green. As for a productive spot, it all depends on the time of year and the depth. Hire a guide with a downrigger and a fish finder your first time out, or join the crowd on the ice in winter.


During the summer months, pontoons, aluminum fishing boats, as well as SUP and kayak rentals are available at the Elk Creek and Lake Fork Marinas.


There are three main hiking trails around Blue Mesa Reservoir, Neversink, Dillon Pinnacles and Pine Creek.

  • Neversink – At the far east end of Blue Mesa, the Neversink Trail explores the riparian area of the Gunnison River. Highlights of this trail include the nearby Great Blue Heron Rookery, lush vegetation and superb birdwatching. The Neversink Trail is an easy 1.5-mile roundtrip that begins just off of US-50 at the far east edge of Curecanti National Recreation Area. 
  • Dillon Pinnacles – The Dillon Pinnacles are a strange remnant of volcanic activity, pillars that have slowly eroded over the years. The Dillon Pinnacles Trail leads through sagebrush and ponderosa pine up to an overlook of Blue Mesa Reservoir and the distinct Pinnacles that the trail draws its name from. The Dillon Pinnacles Trail is a moderate four-mile roundtrip that begins at the north end of the Middle Bridge, along US-50. The Dillon Pinnacles Trail is also open to horses. 
  • Pine Creek – The Pine Creek Trail is just downstream from the Blue Mesa Dam, where it climbs down into Black Canyon to meet Pine Creek and follow an old railroad bed. Interpretive sign showcase the area’s history. Watch out for boaters, who carry their boats up and down the stairs to access Morrow Point Reservoir. The Pine Creek Trail is a moderate two-mile roundtrip that begins starts off of US-50, one mile west of the junction of US-50 and CO-92.


There are a number of campsites located around Blue Mesa Reservoir. The Elk Creek Campsite is probably the most convenient, with the Visitor Center, Marina and restaurant. If you’d rather have a bit more privacy, the Ponderosa Campsite is set a bit further off of the main roads, about eight miles down Soap Creek Road. There are also a number of boat-in campsites fond along the Reservoir and up some of the side creeks.

Elk Creek Visitor Center

The Elk Creek Visitor Center is the place to come for boating and camping permits, maps, boat rentals and more information on Blue Mesa Reservoir. The Visitor Center opens at 8am (8:30 in the spring) and closes at 4pm (6pm in the summer).

Ranger-Led Night Hikes

Join a ranger-led hike along the Dillon Pinnacles Trail, exploring Blue Mesa Reservoir and its nightlife under a star- and moon-lit sky.

Seasons and Fees

Blue Mesa Reservoir is open year-round. In the winter, ice fishing is a popular pastime on the reservoir.

There is no entrance fee for Blue Mesa Reservoir. Boating permits are $4/two days, $10/14 days or $30/year. Colorado fishing licenses are required to fish in Blue Mesa Reservoir. Campsite fees are $12/night, $18/night for sites with hookups.

Location and Contact Info

Blue Mesa Reservoir is located in Curecanti National Recreation Area, west of Gunnison along US-50.

For more information, contact the Elk Creek Visitor Center at 970-641-2337, extension 205 or the Blue Mesa Marina at 1-877-258-6372.