Curecanti National Recreation Area Overview
Curecanti National Recreation Area
Curecanti National Recreation Area (courtesy, National Park Service/Lisa Lynch)
Curecanti National Recreation Area
Contact Details
Curecanti National Recreation Area
102 Elk Creek
Gunnison, CO 81230
Phone: 970-641-2337

The old rock faces of the Black Canyon tell of changes that have occurred over a period of two billion years. The surrounding mesas are capped with cliffs and rocky spires, evidence of violent volcanic eruptions approximately 30 million years ago. These formed the West Elk Mountains to the north. Later volcanic episodes to the south formed Southwestern Colorado's scenic San Juan Mountains, and spewed vast quantities of ash over this area.

The Gunnison River readily cut down through this volcanic matter, but below laid the tough, ancient rock that has been exposed in Black Canyon. This canyon lends the fjord-like character to Morrow Point Lake's steep, rock walls. Crystal Lake is also steep-walled. Blue Mesa's lakebed formed in less-resistant volcanic mudflow materials. As these eroded beneath solidified volcanic layers, spires formed.

You can see a fine example of this formation when hiking the Dillon Pinnacles Trail. The most striking feature of the lower lakes is the spire-like Curecanti Needle. It is best viewed from the tour boat on Morrow Point Lake. Curecanti's fish—brown, rainbow, and Mackinaw trout and Kokanee salmon—attract the greatest number of people to the park, but other recreational opportunities abound—scenic driving, cross-country skiing, boating, camping and hunting.

But Curecanti National Recreation Area's greatest asset is the opportunity to savor the solitude and silence of canyons and mesas.

Published: 28 Oct 2008 | Last Updated: 13 Sep 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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