The Gunnison Gorge Wilderness offers a wild and pristine backcountry experience, with its unique black granite and colorful sandstone double-canyon system carved by the Gunnison River. Fourteen miles of the Gunnison River flow through this wilderness area, offering diverse and abundant recreation opportunities.
The wilderness consists of the canyon from rim to rim and lies north of the adjacent Black Canyon Wilderness. The down-river boundary is below the confluence of the Smith Fork. From there, the river continues for several miles through non-wilderness parts of the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA). Whitewater rapids, ranging from Class II to IV, make for challenging boating and fishing adventures.
Total Area: 17,784 acres
Elevation Range: ~5,200 to ~8,000 feet
BLM Field Office: Uncompahgre
Designated: 1999 (National Wilderness Preservation System)
Location: The Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area is located in Delta and Montrose counties, approximately nine miles northeast of Montrose and 15 miles east of Delta. It lies at the heart of the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA) and is adjacent to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Flora & Fauna: Vegetation consists mainly of desert shrubs, sagebrush, and pinyon-juniper. Fauna includes mule deer, elk, mountain lions, coyotes, ringtails, neo-tropical birds, eagles and other raptors, chukar, and river otter. The river supports thriving populations of rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout.
Recreation: Activities include hiking, backpacking, camping, whitewater boating (canoeing, kayaking, rafting), horseback riding, world-class gold medal trout fishing, hunting, and photography. Boaters should be aware that access to the Chukar Boat Launch is via a 1.1-mile, rugged wilderness trail. All boating gear must be carried in or packed in on horses, as wheeled devices are prohibited. Camping is in designated sites only. For more information, visit the Recreation page. Please note that though unconfined recreation is encouraged in wilderness, specific types of recreation may be barred from a specific area to prevent degradation of wilderness conditions.
Click here for additional information and maps for the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness from the Uncompahgre Field Office.
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Uncompahgre Field Office | (970) 240-5300 | 2465 S. Townsend Ave., Montrose, CO 81401