A major sport in Curecanti is boating and fishing on the reservoirs. Each of the three reservoirs within Curecanti National Recreation Area has a character all its own, and each provides a different type of experience. The Park Service offers summer boat tours on Morrow Point Reservoir and Elk Creek Marina is the exclusive guided fishing operation for this reservoir. For more information and reservations on boat tours call the Park Service at 970-641-2337 / 205.


Twenty mile long Blue Mesa Reservoir, with its 96 miles of shoreline, affords many opportunities for boating. Stand up paddle boarding and kayaking are popular at several areas such as the Bay of Chickens or in the Iola Basin near the Lake City Bridge. Boaters can explore several arms of the reservoir which reach into secluded canyons. Water skiers can practice their sport in the late months of summer, July and August, when waters warm slightly. Water temperatures remain cold through much of the season. Windsurfers and water skiers are advised to wear wet suits.

All boaters on Blue Mesa Reservoir should be aware that strong afternoon winds, sometimes accompanied by storms, can cause hazardous conditions. Be weatherwise: watch for threatening cloud build ups. As soon as strong winds begin to blow, head for shore.

Fees on Blue Mesa Reservoir
All motorized and/or state-registered vessels on Blue Mesa Reservoir will be required to have a boat permit. Permits can be purchased at the NPS Visitor Center.

Visitor Facilities

There are three visitor centers within the recreation area, all operated by the National Park Service. Elk Creek Visitor Center is located 16 miles (26 km) west of Gunnison, Colorado on U.S. Highway 50 and has displays on the natural and cultural history of the area. Cimarron Visitor Center (open during summer months only) is located in Cimarron, Colorado near Morrow Point Dam. The visitor center has narrow gauge railroad cars and engines on display. There are also two marinas and five boat launches along the shores of Blue Mesa Reservoir.

Boating & Fishing In The Curecanti Recreation Area


For the more adventurous and very hearty, Morrow Point Reservoir can provide a fabulous canoeing or sea kayaking trip. The adventure begins with hauling your boat and gear into the canyon. The easiest access to the reservoir is via the Pine Creek Trail. This trail consists of approximately 232 steps into the canyon. From the bottom of the stairs, the trail follows the reservoir for about a mile. You can put your boat in a short distance past the end of the stairs.

Morrow Point Reservoir is almost twelve miles long. The first half-mile of water is swift, but then becomes calm and still. Be aware that fluctuating water levels and releases from Blue Mesa Dam can suddenly create very challenging boating conditions.There are boat-in/backcountry campsites in the canyon, so you can make this an overnight outing. At the end of your trip, head back to the Pine Creek Trail to exit the canyon. The current may make it difficult to paddle back to the base of the stairs, but you can easily make it to the bottom of the stairs via the foot trail. Now comes the hard part, hauling your boat and gear back up the stairs!

Elk Creek Marina Guided Fishing Services — 970-596-4946

Backcountry Use Permits For Morrow Point Reservoir
Boaters are required to fill out a free backcountry use permit. Permits are available at the Pine Creek trailhead.


Like Morrow Point Reservoir, boating on Crystal Reservoir is limited to hand carried craft. The access trail for Crystal Reservoir is reached via the Mesa Creek Trail located near Cimarron.

Fluctuating water levels and releases from Morrow Point Dam can create navigational problems. Tricky currents, protruding rocks, and backwashes caused by water rushing over submerged rocks, can overturn the inattentive boater. In addition, conditions along the river section on Crystal can change drastically during the course of a day. Heavy spring runoff from Cimarron and Mesa Creeks can further complicate matters. Before launching, be sure to assess the capabilities of your equipment and the condition of the water.

Warning: Reservoir levels change without warning! Be prepared for quickly changing weather conditions, and very cold water temperatures! There are few, if any, passing boats on Morrow Point and Crystal Reservoirs to assist in an emergency, so wear your personal flotation device (PFD) at all times!

NPS Morrow Point Boat Tours

Prevent the Spread of Zebra Mussels and other Aquatic Nuisance Species Clean, drain, and dry your boat after each use.
Blue Mesa Reservoir requires mandatory inspections before launching.

For those that get out several times a year or more the NPS offers seasonal and life-time park passes. These offer considerable savings on entrance fees, camping and more.

Take a boat ride into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Join a park ranger for a leisurely 1½ hour boat tour on the Morrow Point Reservoir. You will travel into the famous Black Canyon of the Gunnison, learning about geology, wildlife, early inhabitants, the narrow-gauge railroad, dams, or reservoirs. Be sure to bring your camera!

Tour TimesTours run twice a day at 10:00 am and 12:30 pm everyday except Tuesday. Tours begin around the beginning of June and end after Labor Day. (Start dates are influenced by spring runoff and releases from Blue Mesa Dam.

Reservations:  Please call (970) 641-2337, ext. 205 or stop by the Elk Creek Visitor Center (16 miles west of Gunnison off of Highway 50) to make reservations.

Reservations are required and walk-ons will not be permitted on any tour. We begin taking reservations for the season on May 1. Special tours for educational groups available upon request.

All Children 12 and under (Children need to be 35 pounds or heavier)* Boat tour fees are non-refundable.

Please call (970) 641-2337 x205 for pricing and more information.

It is no surprise that fishing is one of the main attractions of Blue Mesa Reservoir. It is the largest lake in Colorado and supports many species of fish, including Kokanee Salmon, Lake Trout and Rainbow Trout. The reservoir is one of the most productive fisheries in Colorado. While the reservoir supports many species of fish, Kokanee Salmon is the main priority of the Game and Fish department.

The reservoir is also a prime habitat for lake trout which grow to enormous size. These huge fish are a big attraction to fisherman but they also threaten the species balance of the lake. Lake trout are predator fish and since their introduction to the lake they have thrived taking a devastating toll on the Kokanee salmon. Blue Mesa is not a natural reservoir and the species did not evolve together. This presents a constant challenge to the Game and Fish of balancing the large trophy fish against the habitat of the salmon.

For Elk Creek Marina Guided Fishing Services call : 97946-596-4649

Fishing Blue Mesa Reservoir


big fish

NPS: (970) 641-2337 x205

Elk Creek Marina


Guided Fishing


Pappy's Restaurant


Gunnison NPS


Area Information, Boat Regulations, NPS Campground Reservations and NPS Morrow Point Boat Tours.

Lake Fork Marina


Elk Creek Marina, LLC is the concessionaire for the Curecanti National Recreation Area.

Elk Creek Marina cranes two 21” pontoon boats over Blue Mesa Dam into Morrow Point Reservoir to the only boat dock. The reservoir, a narrow, deep lake flanked with steep canyon walls is spectacular!


Curecanti National Recreation Area