Curecanti National Recreation Area
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Introduction

Popular for the three reservoirs that make it a destination for water-based recreation, Curecanti National Recreation Area has to be your next RV holiday spot. Not only is the park popular for water sports, angling enthusiasts fancy the park for its abundant salmon and trout. Besides, amazing opportunities to hike along scenic trails, watch beautiful birds, and ride on horseback are available in Curecanti NRA.

US Highway 50 runs the length of Curecanti NRA and makes it easy to access the different campgrounds and campsites in the park. There are paved and unpaved roads within the park.

Featuring at least 370 campsites available for RVs and tents, there are many camping options available to vacationers at the park. Only one campground in the park is equipped with electric RV hookups. However, there are plenty of facilities and amenities in the park that make camping enjoyable.

Facilities in the park include boat ramps, fish cleaning stations, amphitheater, and pay stations. Campsites are equipped with fire grills, picnic tables, vault toilets, and drinking water. Some campsites also have restrooms with showers. A marina and visitor center are also available.

Park Alerts (2)

[Information] Antler Collecting Not Allowed in Curecanti

Collecting antlers is illegal within the NPS boundary via 36 CFR 2.1 (1)(i). Collectors should call (970-641-2337 x205) or visit the Elk Creek Visitor Center if unsure about the NPS boundary.

[Park Closure] East Portal Road

East Portal Road is closed for the winter.

RV Rentals in Curecanti National Recreation Area

Transportation in Curecanti National Recreation Area

Driving

Located in southwest Colorado, Curecanti NRA is a unique park to drive to because US Highway 50 runs the entire length of the park between Montrose and Gunnison. The park is also accessible via Colorado Highways 149 and 92. The park is located nine miles east and 38 miles west of Montrose and Gunnison towns respectively. All parts of the park are easy to access by RVs, trailers, and other motorized vehicles, and there are no driving restrictions.

Parking

There are available parking lots and areas in Curecanti NRA for visitors and vacationers to park their RVs, trailers, and cars. In addition, there is room for RV campers to park their rigs at their respective campsite in the park. Overnight parking facilities are also available.

Public Transport

There are no public transportation services within Curecanti NRA, however, bus services are available in Gunnison and Montrose.

Campgrounds and parking in Curecanti National Recreation Area

Campsites in Curecanti National Recreation Area

Reservations camping

Stevens Creek Campground

Stevens Creek Campground sits on the north shore of Blue Mesa Reservoir, 12 miles west of Gunnison, and features 53 pet-friendly campsites available to RVs and tents. None of the campsites are equipped with RV hookups, but amenities such as picnic area, self-pay station and drinking water are available. Picnic tables and fire grills are also present in the campsites. Cell phone coverage in the campground is limited.

RVs/trailers over 35 feet can be accommodated in the campground, and reservations can be made for the campsites in the campground.

Swimming, wildlife viewing, water sports, and hiking are popular in the campground.

Lake Fork Campground

Sitting 27 miles west of Gunnison on the shore of Blue Mesa Reservoir, Lake Fork Campground offers various camping options, including RV camping. There are 90 pet-friendly campsites in the campground, all without RV hookups. Campsite reservations are accepted in the Upper and Middle Level campsites, while the Lower level campsites are available on first-come first-served basis only. RV length limit at the campground is 35 feet, however larger rigs may be accommodated.

There are wheelchair accessible sites in the campground, and a number of amenities such as vault toilets, dump station, boat ramp, and picnic tables are also available. During peak season, water, Marina and the fish cleaning station are available.

Elk Creek Campground

Located 16 miles west of Gunnison on the shore of Blue Mesa Reservoir, Elk Creek Campground offers multiple camping options, including RV camping. There are 160 pet-friendly campsites in the campground within four loops – A, B, C, and D. Only Loop D is equipped with electric hookups for RVs within the campground. RV length limit at the campground is 35 feet, however larger rigs may be accommodated.

There are wheelchair accessible campsites within Elk Creek Campground, and you’ll find amenities such as vault toilets, dump stations, picnic tables and fire grates. Facilities in the campground include Visitor Center, boat ramps, and fish cleaning station. During peak season, water, flush toilets, showers, restaurant, and a marina are available in the campground.

Reservations can be made for Loops A and D; however, all the remaining campsites are available on first-come, first-served basis. You can stay up to 14 consecutive days in 30 days.

First-come first-served

Cimarron Campground

Cimarron Campground is sited 20 miles east of Montrose, and offers camping options from tents to medium sized (35 feet) RVs/trailers. All the campsites in the campground are available on first-come, first-served basis only. There are no RV hookups within the campground.

Vault toilets, dump station, water, and flush toilets are some of the campground’s amenities. Picnic tables and fire grills are available in each campsite. Pets are allowed.

Cimarron Campground sits on the site of a historic narrow-gauge railroad town.

Dry Gulch Campground

Dry Gulch Campground is located 17 miles west of Gunnison, and features 9 pet-friendly shaded campsites that can accommodate tents and RVs/trailers up to 35 feet. All the campsites in the campground are available on first-come, first-served basis only.

Amenities in the campground include horse corral, vault toilets, water, picnic tables, and fire grills. No RV hookups are present.

Ponderosa Campground

Ponderosa Campground, northwest of Soap Creek on Blue Mesa Reservoir, consists of 28 pet-friendly campsites within three loops that can accommodate tents and RVs/trailers that are up to 35 feet. All the campsites are on first-come, first-served basis only.

No RV hookups are on hand at the campground, however, amenities such as water, vault toilets, fire grills, and picnic tables are available. You’ll also find a horse corral and boat ramp at Ponderosa Campground.

The road that leads to the campground is good for use in dry conditions, but can be hazardous or impassable for trailers and RVs when wet.

Red Creek Campground

Located 19 miles west of Gunnison, Red Creek Campground features 1 RV campsite and 1 group campsite. The RV campsite can accommodate rigs up to 22 feet in length, and is available on first-come first-served basis only. There are no RV hookups, but vault toilets, picnic tables, fire grills, and water are available.

The group campsite is reservable.

Alternate camping

East Elk Creek Campground

East Elk Creek Campground is a group campsite located 16.5 miles west of Gunnison. The campsite can accommodate tents and RVs, but features no RV hookups. Picnic shelter, vault toilets, water, picnic tables, and fire grills are available in the campground.

Seasonal activities in Curecanti National Recreation Area

Spring

Hiking

At Curecanti NRA, hiking exposes RV campers to diverse habitats, wildlife and flora, as well as the scenic vistas within the park. There are trails in the park for hikers of all skill levels. What’s more, pets are allowed on all the trails, with the requirement that they be on a leash at all times.

With numerous hiking trails to choose from, hikers can walk the wheelchair-accessible Neversink Trail and view heavy grass undergrowth, cottonwoods, and willows, or ascend through ponderosa pine, sagebrush, and riparian habitats along Dillon Pinnacles Trail to points where Blue Mesa Reservoir comes into full view.

Many more hiking trails are available, each offering unique experiences, so ensure you come along with your best hiking boots.

Boating

As you visit Curecanti NRA with your vessel(s), be prepared for unique boating/canoeing experiences on each of the three reservoirs in the park.

Blue Mesa Reservoir, which is 20 miles long and has 96 miles of shoreline allows campers explore its various arms that lead to secluded canyons. Morrow Point Reservoir, on the other hand, is 12 miles long and features swift waters that progressively become calm and still. Paddling on Morrow Point can be very challenging, so prepare yourself. Moreover, the reservoir is only restricted to the use of hand-carried watercraft, similar to Crystal Reservoir.

Summer

Swimming

Though no designated swimming beaches or areas are available at Curecanti NRA, you can take a dip in Blue Mesa Reservoir on a hot summer day. The swim in the cold water promises to be both enjoyable and refreshing. The deeper you go in the water, the colder it gets.

Note that because of the rocky and steep shores, finding a good spot to swim in the reservoir may be quite challenging. However, you’ll find that the “no wake” areas for motorboat traffic on the reservoir are good spots. Do not jump off rock cliffs, bridges, ledges or man-made structures that are more than 15 feet above the water surface.

Fall

Horseback Riding

Equestrians love to visit Curecanti NRA for the wonderful horseback riding opportunities that the park offers. There are two trails in the park that are open to horseback riders – Dillon Pinnacles Trail and Dry Gulch Trail.

If you bring your horse, you can ride it on the lower section of Dillon Pinnacles Trail and access the West Elk Wilderness from the trail. You may find riding on this four-mile trail moderately strenuous as you’ll climb about 600 feet of elevation. Besides, only little shade is available along the trail, and there is no water.

Dry Gulch Trail provides equestrians access to the Sapinero State Wildlife Area, the Bureau of Land Management land, and the Gunnison National Forest.

Bird Watching

At Curecanti NRA, there are numerous bird habitats that allow bird watchers indulge their passion. From the woodlands to the Black Canyon, Swallow, and Blue Mesa Reservoir, a menagerie of bird life thrives. What’s more, the park is home to diverse species throughout the year, so that you’ll find bald eagles in winter, Gunnison Sage Grouse in May, and Peregrine Falcon in summer. Year-round, there are beautiful creatures to look up to the sky and watch. Robins, woodpeckers and red-winged black birds are some examples of commonly found birds in the park.

Winter

Fishing

Rainbow trout, lake trout and kokanee salmon are some of the fish species that are found within various aquatic habitats at Curecanti NRA. Anglers also enjoy catching brown trout, yellow perch and cutthroat trout in the park’s waters. The most often caught fish in the park is rainbow trout, so you should not have much difficulty finding yours when you throw in your tackle and fish away.

Ice fishing opportunities are also available at Curecanti NRA in winter. During such periods, ice fishing shelters are required to be removed each day.

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