Gunnison River Colorado Fly Fishing, Camping, Boating

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Gunnison River

Flowing from Altmont all the way to the Colorado, the Gunnison River boasts dense trout fishing, whitewater and scenic boating and recreation of all types.

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  • With excellent fishing, boating, rafting and more the Gunnison River is one of Crested Butte’s prime recreation locations. 
  • The Gunnison River flows from Altmont to Grand Junction, passing through Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area and Curecanti National Recreation Area.

Overview

The Gunnison River begins where the East and Taylor River join, just outside of Altmont, Colorado, and flows all the way to Delta, Colorado, where it flows into the Uncompaghre River before eventually joining the Colorado. Along this diverse waterway, visitors can find outstanding fishing, whitewater and scenic boating and a newly constructed whitewater park. The Gunnison River also flows through Curecanti National Recreation Area, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Gunnison Gorge.

Location

The Gunnison River begins at the confluence of the Taylor and East Rivers, just outside of Altmont. From there, it flows west into the Uncompahgre outside Delta, Colorado before joining the Colorado River near Grand Junction.

Fishing

While the creation of Blue Mesa, Morrow Point and Crystal Reservoirs eliminated some of the river fishing along the Gunnison, there are still miles and miles of top-notch, award-winning fishing, not to mention the largest Kokanee Salmon fishery in the United States. The entire stretch of the Gunnison that flows through the Black Canyon is designated Gold Medal Trout Waters, although accessing this part of the river does require some hiking on steep trails. Other good sections of river include the confluence of the Gunnison just west of Hotchkiss (near Pleasure Park Road) and the area between the Black Canyon and the Gunnison’s confluence with the Uncompaghre. Boat and shore fishing on Blue Mesa Reservoir is also excellent, as is the fishing on Morrow Point and Crystal Reservoirs, although access to these two is more difficult.

  • Accessing The River: The stretch from Almont to Gunnison sees great wade fishing. From about Almont to Twin Bridges in the town of Gunnison is good. You'll also find some great access near Neversink and Coopers Ranch west of Gunnison. Book a guide for a drift down the gorge and try to time it for the spring salmon fly hatch.
  • Seasons On The Gunnison: High flows can make for tough fishing in spring with runoff in April, May and into June depending on the year's snowpack. Typically things kickoff with the salmon fly hatch in the spring. Action can be fantastic until Demember before things get a bit slippery.
  • Flies to Use: Salmon flies, streamers and San Juan worms do well. Don't forget your standard nymphs and midges or if you toss lures, try a Rapala or marabou jig.

Rafting and Boating

The Gunnison River provides some of Crested Butte’s most popular rafting trips, with mellow scenic sections as well as exciting rapids that will get your heart pumping. Be sure to check in with local shops, outfitters or Forest Service offices for current flow levels and river conditions. A number of local guides and outfitters are also available to help you have the perfect trip.

Whitewater Park

The Gunnison Whitewater Park is a newer addition to the river, created by Western State College. This short stretch of river (several hundred feet) has been augmented with man-placed boulders in order to create a fun, exciting and safe area to practice whitewater boating.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of Crested Butte’s most unique areas. The 2,000-foot-deep canyon, cut out by the Gunnison River, has beautiful scenic drives, fishing, hiking, camping and more.

Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area

Just downstream of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area offers a place to get away from the noise and hustle of the more popular Parks and Recreation Areas.

Curecanti National Recreation Area

Consisting of three man-made reservoirs, Blue Mesa National Recreation Area is a beautiful place to come boating and fishing. Blue Mesa Reservoir offers a large reservoir (the largest in Colorado) for motor boats, while Morrow Point and Crystal Reservoirs provide a quieter, more secluded experience.

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