Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Arealast updated: January 2016

Just north of Montrose in west-central Colorado lies the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA), a diverse landscape ranging from adobe badlands to rugged piñon and juniper-covered slopes. At the heart of the NCA, the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area encompasses a spectacular black granite and red sandstone double canyon formed by the Gunnison River.

The Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area encompasses approximately 17,784 acres of public land, including a fourteen-mile stretch of the Gunnison 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 main stem of the Gunnison.

The wilderness area is managed to preserve and protect outstanding wilderness, scenic, and non-motorized recreational values. The Gunnison Gorge offers a technical (Class II-IV) and remote boating experience for rafters, kayakers, and whitewater canoeists. Boating conditions change with flows and are highly dependent on winter snowpack. Other wilderness uses include:

  • hiking and backpacking
  • horseback riding
  • small and big game hunting
  • Gold Medal trout fishing

Day-use and camping recreational user fees are charged in the wilderness area.  The Gorge was one of the BLM’s first recreational fee demo pilots and has been charging fees since 1997.  A major use of fees is the control of tamarisk and other invasive species throughout the wilderness area.

Contact Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area

Contact Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area

Wanda L Lassiter
Park Ranger
2465 South Townsend
Montrose, Colorado  81401
Phone: 970-240-5318
Fax: 970-240-5367


Service Area

Statewide Program in:
  • Colorado

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