Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area
Guide

Introduction

Encompassing diverse landscapes and featuring spectacular sceneries, beautiful flora and fauna, as well as a double-canyon wilderness, Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area is the perfect place for dry camping and recreation. This Bureau of Land Management property, located about 10 miles north of Montrose, Colorado, has outstanding geological and recreational resources that make it the ideal setting for a wide range of activities for the primitive camper.

From non-motorized to motorized riding adventures on primitive trails and roads, to boating, rafting, canoeing, and kayaking, there’s so much to do at this BLM land in Colorado. The river in the park is designated a Gold Medal Trout Fishery for its rich trout population, ensuring that anglers never stop coming. Guests also have the chance to visit the Flat Top-Peach Valley Recreation Area for amazing activities and beautiful views of surrounding landscapes. Park explorers additionally take pleasure trips to the nearby Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area.

Wilderness, tent and RV camping opportunities are available at Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area for guests. Some of the sites are located along the Gunnison River while others are within a designated campground.

RV Rentals in Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area

Transportation

Driving

Located about 50 miles south of Grand Junction, Gunnison Gorge National Recreation Area can be accessed via Highways 50 and 92, Colorado. Access to this BLM property from Montrose, located 10 miles south of the park, is via a paved road which leads to the unpaved Peach Valley Road. Guests can also get to the park via a number of access roads on the east and west side of Gunnison River Canyon, all of which are rough and require the use of four-wheel drive vehicles. When wet, the roads in the park are impassable, so it’s best to have high clearance 4WD vehicles. Expect to see rocky, natural surface roads in the park.

As you drive within the park, look out for blind turns as well as steep hills, over-hanging branches, rocks and obstacles that will require that you drive with caution. Always anticipate meeting hikers, bikers and horses over every hill and around every turn in the park. The recreation sites within the park have rough dirt and gravel surfaces.

Although the roads within the park are best negotiated with 4WD vehicles and Off-Highway Vehicles, if you’d like to rent RVs for use within the park, you’ll find them around Gunnison.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area

Campsites in Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area

First-come first-served

Cottonwood Grove Campground

Cottonwood Grove Campground features mature cottonwood trees that line the rim of Gunnison River within this BLM land. This BLM campground consists of six sites, including one ADA accessible site which has an accessible fishing pier. Some of the amenities within the campground include boat ramps for non-motorized watercraft, picnic tables, shade structures, a vault toilet, and fire rings.

All the sites are open year-round and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Free camping opportunities are in effect in the campground. If you wish to camp in your RV/trailer at this campground, ensure it is not longer than 25 ft.

Alternate camping

Wilderness camping

Wilderness camping opportunities are available within campsites that are located along the corridor of the Gunnison River within this BLM property. Guests who wish to enjoy backcountry camping within these sites will require permits for the sites. For wilderness campsites upstream of Gunnison Forks, maximum stay is two to three days. All the sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Seasonal activities in Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area

In-Season

Trails

There are various opportunities available for diverse trail users to explore and enjoy the trails that are present at Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. Not only will hikers find plenty of fun things to do at the park, equestrians, mountain bikers, as well as cyclists also partake in the recreation the park has to offer.

The scenic trails available for guests to pursue their varied interests offer amazing adventures and take users through areas where the beautiful mountains, cliffs, canyons, and valleys that surround the park will come into full view.

Wildlife/Bird Viewing

The diverse natural environments within the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area make the park a paradise for nature enthusiasts. The western flank of this BLM land features salt-brush desert, while the canyon rim area features pinyon-juniper uplands.

The aquatic and riparian environments of the river also add to the list of habitats that hosts fauna within the park. You’ll find wildlife species such as elk, deer, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain lion as well as other fauna species within the park’s areas. Different bird species are also commonly seen in the park.

Fishing

Fishing is a popular sport at Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and this makes the BLM property a well-loved destination for anglers and fishermen. Thanks to the excellent trout population present within the Gunnison River, the river is designated as a Gold Medal Trout Fishery by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The species of trout that are available within the river include brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. What’s more, there are various sites provided for anglers to access the river for fishing.

Off-Season

Boating

Guests that love to boat will enjoy unforgettable experiences at this BLM land in Colorado. This property provides a number of river access sites for visitors to engage in non-motorized boating adventures. The use of motorized watercraft on the waters in this BLM property is not allowed.

For private boaters, permits are not required to boat within the park, but boater groups require registration. If you’re going to travel downstream through the Gorge in your boat, then you should have your Park backcountry permit with you.

Flat Top-Peach Valley Recreation Area

The Flat Top-Peach Valley Recreation Area is a 15 sq. mile area within Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area dedicated to motorized and non-motorized recreation, as well as other fun activities.

The recreation area features two designated play areas where the use of all-terrain vehicles, cross-country motorcycles, as well as mountain bikes are allowed. Your visit to this recreation area will allow you to access adobe hills and arroyos, pinyon-juniper uplands as well as trail systems available for various users.

Kayaking/Rafting

Besides the amazing non-motorized boating opportunities available at Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area, refreshing rafting, kayaking, and whitewater canoeing opportunities are open to all who fancy these water-based recreational pursuits. Some areas of the park are not recommended for rafters, particularly the Gorge. Always carry an extra paddle or oar as well as an adequate first aid kit, repair kit, and an additional personal floatation device.

Canoeists and rafters looking for calm waters can access the river from the Gunnison Forks, Orchard Boat Launch and Cottonwood Grove Campground.