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BLM>Colorado>Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area>Wilderness Permit Fees
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Rafters at the confluence of the Gunnison River and the South forkKayakers make their way down the Chukar TrailRafters in the Bobcat Area

Wilderness Permit Fees

Visitors to the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness are charged the following wilderness permit fees:

  • Day Use Only (in and out the same day) - $3 per person
  • Camping
    • 1 night - $10
    • 2 nights - $15 (maximum allowable stay)
  • Annual Day Use Pass - $15 per person/year

Annual Passes are not valid for more than one person.  Each person age 16 and older must purchase a separate pass.

Who Pays Wilderness Permit Fees?

Wilderness permit fees apply to all users, 16 years of age and older, accessing the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness from any of the four wilderness trailheads (Chukar, Bobcat, Duncan and Ute), or using the Margartiaville camps located up-river from the Chukar put-in.  This includes boaters and hikers entering from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

There is no charge for private walk-in fishing or camping below the Smith Fork. Voluntary donations are encouraged and can be placed in the register tube located at the entrance kiosk.

What About Commercial Users?

Wilderness permit fees apply to commercial clients in the wilderness.  They are paid separate from any commercial company's advertised client charges for the Gorge.  Wilderness permit fees for commercial clients are collected by the commercial company prior to the trip, and paid by the company to BLM.

Visitors that use the jet boat, raft rental and/or guide services of the Gunnison River Pleasure Park in the four-mile section of the Gunnison River between the North Fork and Smith Fork confluences are also charged wilderness permit fees.

How Are Wilderness Permit Fees Collected?

Wilderness permit fees are collected on-site at the Chukar, Duncan, Bobcat, and Ute Trailheads. You need to fill out information on a self-issued wilderness permit form, deposit your money (personal checks or cash only) in the fee tube located at the trailhead, and carry the fee receipt with you while in the Gorge. Exact change is required. Charge cards are not accepted.

BLM personnel are occasionally stationed at the Chukar Trailhead and often on patrol in the river corridor throughout the summer to assist people with wilderness permits and campsite registration.

Do I Still Have To Sign The Trailhead Register If I Fill Out The Fee Envelope?

Yes. Registration is mandatory for all day and overnight Gorge users and provides valuable visitor use information. Campers must also sign-in for a designated campsite. Visitors to the Chukar area will continue to sign the register at the river but will obtain permits and pay their wilderness permit fees at the trailhead. Please follow the directions for campsite registration provided at the trailhead kiosks and in the Chukar put-in register box.

What If I Have An Annual Pass for Day Use?

If you have an Annual Pass for Day Use, you still need to fill out the wilderness permit fee envelope user information section and write your pass number in the space provided. Be sure to carry your pass with you on each visit to the Gorge. You must also sign the register at the Duncan, Bobcat, or Ute trailheads or the Chukar register at the river put-in site. Annual passes are good for day use only (in and out the same calendar day) and cannot be applied toward overnight wilderness permit fees.

How Do I Get An Annual Pass For Day Use? 

  • Purchase an annual “Day Use Only Pass” at any trailhead by filling out both sides of the permit fee envelope and paying your fee. 
  • Use your receipt for that day in the Gorge.
  • BLM will send your Annual Pass in the mail which includes a pass number. 
  • Use your pass number when filling out fee envelopes throughout the year.
  • Place the receipt from the fee envelope in your car and carry the Annual Pass with you in the Gorge.
  • Sign the register at the trailhead.
  • Passes are good for day use only and cannot be applied toward camping permit fees.
  • Annual passes can also be purchased at the BLM office in Montrose. 
Can I use my "America the Beautiful" Pass in the Wilderness or River Corridor?

No.  These passes only apply to entrance fees or standard amenity fees at federal recreation sites.  They do not apply to wilderness permit fees such as those charged for backcountry and river use in the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness.

How Are Wilderness Permit Fees Collected In The Gorge Used? 

  • Repairs and maintenance of trails, facilities, and replacement of vandalized property
  • Wilderness resource protection projects
  • Improved fishing and boating access
  • Control of invasive weed species
  • Improved brochures, maps, signs, and interpretive and education materials emphasizing “Leave No Trace” ethics
  • Increased visitor services and education programs
  • Biological monitoring of trails, campsites, and other high use areas
  • User impact studies and monitoring
  • Campsite rehabilitation projects
  • Riparian, wildlife, and fishery protection projects in coordination with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Trout Unlimited, and other partners

Why Have Wilderness Permit Fees In The Gunnison Gorge?

The Gunnison Gorge Wilderness is being cared for today and preserved for future generations by the Bureau of Land Management for the American people. The goal is to provide for the responsible use and enjoyment of the land and resources while protecting the wilderness in its undiminished, natural condition for future generations.  This dual objective -- use and preservation -- comes at a price. Protecting our natural and cultural heritage while ensuring that everyone visiting these areas has a safe, enjoyable and educational experience is a major financial investment.

As the number of visitors continues to climb due to the popularity of this national treasure, government funding available for necessities such as trail and facility repairs, maintenance, visitor protection, and other services has not kept pace.

While some funding comes from the general tax base, those who use the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness for recreation derive a greater benefit from, and place a greater burden on, resources than the public at large. Wilderness permit fees redistribute that burden so that users pay an increased share of the costs.

What Does the National Recreation Fee Program Do? 

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) was enacted December 8, 2004.
  • It provides Federal agencies with authority to reinvest fees at local recreation sites to benefit visitors through enhanced facilities and services, greater use of technology, and improved efficiency of the program. 
  • All permit fees collected in the Gorge remain here for immediate use.
  • Limits permit fees to sites that meet specific criteria for fee collection.
  • Requires Recreation Resource Advisory Committees and provides the public with information about fees and how fee revenues are used.

America's Public Lands

The future of these public lands rests with all American citizens. The actions we take today will reflect the price we are willing to pay to pass these lands on to future generations, protected and in better health. We need and welcome your support.

How Can I Get Involved?

Your input is needed and valued. A comment section is provided on the back of your Gorge fee envelope or you may send in your comments directly to the BLM office in Montrose. 

The BLM invites you to get involved in volunteer resource protection and user education projects in the Gunnison Gorge. Volunteers can receive an Annual Day Use Pass for their work in the Gorge. Please call us for more details. 

Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area
2465 S. Townsend Avenue
Montrose, CO 81401
PH 970-240-5300