Blue Mesa Reservoir is one of Colorado’s must see destinations. It is located in Western Colorado near the town of Gunnison. Blue Mesa is Colorado’s largest lake being twenty miles long with 96 miles of shoreline. It is part of the Curecanti National Recreation Area which also contains Morrow Point Reservoir and Crystal Reservoir. The three reservoirs are all part of a hydroelectric project supplying electricity to the region. The reservoirs also play a very important role in water storage and management for the entire four corners area.
Blue Mesa Reservoir is a popular destination for outdoor recreation. The lake is very popular with fisherman summer and winter. A number of fish species are in the lake, including lake trout which grow to be very large trophy fish. In addition to fishing the lake offers all sorts of water recreation including boating, water skiing, sailing and wind surfing.
There are two full service marinas available – Elk Creek Marina and Lake Fork Marina. Elk Creek Marina also offers Pappy’s restaurant for a relaxing setting and great food. The National Park Service has a visitor’s center at the marina which offers all sorts of information about the area. The lake is a great place for camping with park service campgrounds available, as well as a number of independent RV Parks.
The surrounding Gunnison Country offers the best of Colorado with truly outstanding and spectacular scenic areas. Black Canyon National Park is very close by with access from both the north and south rims. Just 25 miles north of Gunnison is the National Historic Town of Crested Butte. Over 70% of Gunnison County is National Forest which offers all sorts of great recreation, both summer and winter.
About Blue Mesa Lake
Blue Mesa Reservoir is part of the Curecanti National Recreation Area. It is formed by three reservoirs, named for corresponding dams on the Gunnison River. The national recreation area borders Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park on the west. Panoramic mesas, fjord-like reservoirs, and deep, steep and narrow canyons abound. Recently discovered dinosaur fossils, a 6,700-acre (20 km2) archeological district, a narrow gauge train, and traces of 6000 year old dwellings further enhance the offerings of Curecanti.
Reservoirs & Dams In Curecanti NRA
Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest body of water. Created by Blue Mesa Dam, Blue Mesa Reservoir is 20 miles (32 km) long, has 96 miles (154 km) of shoreline, and is the largest Lake Trout and Kokanee salmon fishery in the United States. Blue Mesa Dam was completed in 1965, becoming the first large dam built along the Gunnison River. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison begins below Blue Mesa Dam.
Twelve miles below Blue Mesa Dam is Morrow Point Dam. Morrow Point Dam was completed in 1967 creating narrow Morrow Point Reservoir. While the primary purpose of Blue Mesa Dam is to store water, the primary function of Morrow Point Dam is to produce hydroelectricity. It has about twice the power capacity of Blue Mesa Dam.
Crystal Dam is a double curvature thin arch dam located six miles (10 km) downstream from Morrow Point Dam. Crystal Dam is the newest of the three dams in Curecanti; construction on the dam was finished in 1976, forming Crystal Reservoir. Below Crystal Dam is the East Portal of the Gunnison Tunnel, a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Just below East Portal is the eastern boundary of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
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. Wiki
Blue Mesa Lake is a water sports enthusiasts dream. The large, wide open lake makes it perfect for boating and sailing. This is the place to enjoy water skiing, jet skis, stand up paddle boards and wind surfing. For the hardy few, even swimming in the mid-summer months.
Fishing Blue Mesa Reservoir
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 lake is one of the most productive fisheries in Colorado.
While the lake supports many species of fish, Kokanee salmon is the main priority of the Game and Fish department. The lake 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 lake 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. To learn more about this interesting challenge visit the fisheries management website.
Blue Mesa Reservoir Offers Great Fishing
- Kokanee Salmon
- Brown Trout
- Rainbow Trout
- Lake Trout
- Ice Fishing