Curecanti National Recreation Area

Curecanti National Recreation Area
Curecanti National Recreation Area (National Park Service)

Curecanti National Recreation Area offers the hiker diversity in habitat, scenic vistas, wildlife, and wildflowers. Interpretive signs help visitors understand the rich natural and cultural history of the area.


1.5 miles/2.5 km
0.5 to 1 hour
Located on the north shore of the Gunnison River near a Great Blue Heron rookery, this streamside habitat with heavy undergrowth of grasses, flowers, cottonwoods, and willows is ideal for birding, wildlife observation, and fishing. Located off Highway 50, 5 miles west of Gunnison.

Pine Creek
2 miles/3.3 km
1 to 1.5 hours
Descends along Pine Creek, on the south side of the Black Canyon to the Gunnison River below Blue Mesa Dam. This popular trail's lower portion follows the old bed of the Denver and Rio Grande, and interpretive signs tell the story of the narrow gauge railroad. Elevation change of 180 feet via 232 steps. Access to fishing, boating, and camping for Morrow Point Lake. No boat launching facilities. Small craft must be hand-carried down (and back up) the trail. Access to Morrow Point Lake Boat Tours. Parking space is limited, drop-off parking for trailers available at top of access road. A short, steep road leads to trailhead. Located off highway 50, one mile west of junction with Highway 92.

Curecanti Creek
4 miles/6.6 km
2 to 3 hours
After descending from the rim of the upper Black Canyon of the Gunnison, the trail follows the banks of Curecanti Creek to Morrow Point Lake. The Curecanti Needle, a 700-foot granite spire, is within view at the trail's end. Two campsites are provided at the end of the trail. Elevation change of 900 feet. Located off Highway 92 at Pioneer Point, 5.7 miles from junction with Highway 50.

Dillon Pinnacles
4 miles/6.7 km
2 to 3 hours
Ascending through sagebrush, conifers, and riparian vegetation, this trail offers spectacular views of the Dillon Pinnacles, weirdly eroded volcanic formations. Interpretive signs explain the geologic history. Horses permitted. Located off Highway 50, 6 miles west of the Elk Creek Visitor Center.

Hermit's Rest
6 miles/10 km
3 hours
Zigzagging through oak, pine, juniper, and fir, hikers descend to the wooded camp and shores of Morrow Point Lake. Elevation change of 1,800 feet. Located off Highway 92, 17 miles from junction with Highway 50.

Crystal Creek
5 miles/9 km
2 hours
Winding through abundant wildflowers, oak brush, aspen, conifers, and a recovering burned area, hikers are rewarded with sweeping ridgetop views of Cimarron Valley, the West Elk, and San Juan Mountains. The trail ends at an overlook, 1,800 feet above Crystal Lake. Located off Highway 92, 24 miles from junction with Highway 50.

Mesa Creek
1.5 miles/2.5 km
1 hour
The sheer walls and extreme narrowness of the Black Canyon are well appreciated along this trail. Provides access to fishing and boating on Crystal Lake. A footbridge over the lake allows access to the north shore. No boat launching facilities. Small craft must be hand launched. Releases from Morrow Point Dam can cause strong currents and fluctuating water levels. Located off Highway 50 at Cimarron. Drive one mile to Morrow Point Dam parking area.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 6 Jan 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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