GGNCA FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area

BLM photo by Rich Durnan

 
 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT . . .


GUNNISON GORGE NCA

What is a National Conservation Area (NCA)?

NCA is a designation given to special lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the National Landscape Conservation System.  Congress designates an NCA in order to permanently protect and conserve identified resource values of national interest.  Currently there are thirteen NCAs in the nation (including the newly designated Dominguez-Escalante NCA), and each is managed in accordance with special provisions detailed in the designating legislation.

Where is the Gunnison Gorge NCA?

The Gunnison Gorge NCA is located about seven miles northeast of Montrose in west central Colorado, just downstream from the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  It encompasses approximately 57,725 acres of public lands in Montrose and Delta counties.

How is the NCA managed?

Congress required the BLM to prepare a resource management plan for the NCA within four years from the date the authorizing legislation was signed.  The Gunnison Gorge NCA Resource Management Plan (9MB) was approved in 2004.

Was the public able to participate in the preparation of the Resource Management Plan?

Yes, the public was invited to participate.  Public planning opportunities were announced via this website, as well as state and local media outlets.  In addition, the BLM invited other federal, state, and local government entities and a variety of non-governmental organizations to participate in the planning process.

What types of use are allowed in the Gunnison Gorge NCA?

The NCA encompasses a diverse landscape ranging from adobe badlands to rugged pinon-juniper covered slopes to the spectacular double canyon of the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area.  This landscape supports an equally diverse range of uses--activities such as wilderness whitewater boating and Gold Medal trout fishing in the Gunnison River, big-game hunting for mule deer and elk, off-highway vehicle use in Peach Valley, domestic sheep and livestock grazing, sightseeing, wildlife photography, and wilderness hiking and backpacking.

What types of use are NOT allowed in the Gunnison Gorge NCA?

Subject to valid existing rights, the NCA is "withdrawn from all forms of entry, appropriation or disposal under the public land laws; from location, entry, and patent under the mining laws; and from disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing, and all amendments thereto."  This means that, except where they currently exist, the following uses/activities are not allowed within the NCA:

  • Location, exploration, development and patent of mining claims
  • Sand and gravel extraction activities
  • Oil and gas or geothermal leasing, exploration and development
  • Sale or lease of public lands for any purpose

GUNNISON GORGE WILDERNESS

Where is the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area?

Located in the heart of the NCA, the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness encircles a double canyon formed by the Gunnison River.  The wilderness area encompasses approximately 17,700 acres of public lands, including 14 miles of the river, extending from the northwestern boundary of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park north to a point approximately one mile downstream from the confluence of the Smith Fork and the mainstem of the Gunnison.

What types of use are allowed in the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness?

Generally, wilderness designation allows for any use or activity that does not utilize motorized vehicles or equipment, mechanized transport, or result in a permanent or human-made structure or installation, including:

  • hiking and backpacking
  • horseback riding
  • rafting and kayaking
  • domestic livestock grazing
  • hunting and fishing

Visit the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness webpage for specific visitor use regulations.

What types of use are NOT allowed in the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness?

  • Travel by motorized or mechanized vehicles (such as ATVs, motorcycles, four-wheel drive vehicles, mountain bikes, and motor boats).  NOTE: The Wilderness Act of 1964 provides that the Secretary of the Interior may continue to allow the use of motor boats in wilderness, subject to such restrictions as the Secretary deems necessary, if such use was established before the area was designated as wilderness.
  • Construction of any temporary or permanent roads
  • Construction of any human-made structure or installation
  • Location, exploration, development and patent of mining claims
  • Sand and gravel extraction activities
  • Oil and gas or geothermal leasing, exploration and development
  • Sale or lease of public lands for any purpose
  • Rights-of-ways and permits for any purpose (e.g. roads, powerlines, pipelines and communication sites)

Visit the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness webpage for specific visitor use regulations.

Are User Fees Required?

User fees are required only in the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area and only for individuals 16 years of age and older.  Fees are currently set at:

  • $3.00/person per day for day use (in and out the same day)
  • $5.00/person per calendar day for overnight use (so that one overnight = $10 and two overnights = $15)
  • An annual day use pass is available for $15.00

For more information on user fees, visit the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Permit Fees page.



2465 S. Townsend Ave, Montrose, CO  81401
Phone: (970) 240-5300  |  TDD: (970) 240-5366  |  FAX: (970) 240-5368
Office Hours:  8:00 am to 4:30 pm

Click on the address above for a map showing the location of the Gunnison Gorge NCA administrative headquarters.