Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and Wilderness - Transcript

Welcome to the Bureau of Land Management’s Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and Wilderness.

The Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area, or NCA, is northeast of Montrose, Colorado, just downstream from the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The Gunnison Gorge Wilderness lies at the center of the Conservation Area.

The landscape ranges from adobe badlands, to rugged pinyon-juniper covered slopes, to the spectacular river canyon of the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness. These areas are managed by the BLM Uncompahgre Field Office and offer visitors a wild and rugged back country experience.

Recreation opportunities abound in this area including wilderness whitewater kayaking and rafting, flat-water boating, gold medal trout fishing, big-game hunting, off-highway vehicle use, mountain biking, horseback riding, sightseeing, photography, hiking ,and wilderness backpacking.

At the heart of the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness is a 14-mile stretch of the Gunnison River that offers technical Class III and IV boating for rafters, kayakers and whitewater canoeists. Water flows are dam controlled and vary depending on winter snowpack. A maximum group size of 12 people is allowed in the wilderness. Fees are required for day-use and camping in the Wilderness. Campsites must be reserved on the day of the trip and the maximum stay for wilderness groups is 2 nights. Check with the BLM Uncompahgre Field Office for wilderness camping regulations.

Anglers from all over the world visit the Gunnison River for its outstanding gold-medal trout fishing and annual stonefly hatch. Anglers may only use artificial flies and lures. There is a bag limit of 4 brown trout in this area.

The Flat Top-Peach Valley Recreation Area provides over 9,700 acres for responsible motorized and non-motorized recreation. The Recreation Area offers two designated “open areas” where cross-country motorcycle, ATV, and mountain bike riding is permitted.  The Recreation Area also provides large expanses of adobe hills and arroyos with over 75 miles of easy to expert-level signed routes. Outside of the open areas, all motorized and mechanical vehicles must stay on signed, designated routes.

In addition to the Flat Top-Peach Valley Recreation Area, the NCA’s western side offers pinyon-juniper uplands that create scenic settings, challenging single track for motorcycles and mountain bikes and primitive four-wheel drive and ATV road and trail systems.

While visiting, please remember that motorized and mechanized travel is not permitted within the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness.

Car camping along the river and outside the wilderness is another great way to enjoy the area. Camping is permitted in designated sites only. The Cottonwood Grove camping area provides universal access campsites, toilets, and a fishing pier. Outside the river corridor and Wilderness, dispersed vehicle camping is allowed in most of the NCA. Regulations for group size, stay limit, sanitation and fire use vary upon location, so please check the Conservation Area Web site or the Uncompahgre Field Office for information.

Six trails provide access to the Wilderness, including: Chukar, Bobcat, Duncan, Ute, West River, and North Fork to Smith Fork. These trails range in length from 1 mile to 4 miles one-way, and vary in difficulty from easy to strenuous. Fees apply on Chukar, Bobcat, Duncan and Ute trails. Other trails outside the wilderness include: Eagle Valley, Sunset Rocks, and the 20-mile Redrocks Nighthorse Trail system which offers spectacular views of the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness and surrounding areas.

The Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and Gunnison Gorge Wilderness are managed by the BLM’s Uncompahgre Field Office.  For more information including required fees and permits, please call 970-240-5300 or visit the Web site at: and click on the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation area link under the “special areas” section.

Please play safely while enjoying your public lands.

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