< BackU.S. Highway 50, Curecanti National Recreational Area

Traveling west from Gunnison, U.S. Highway 50 brings you into Curecanti. The highway follows the path of the Gunnison River. Stop and have a picnic, fish, or walk by the river at Neversink or Cooper Ranch. After passing through the Gunnison River Canyon, you come upon Lake City Bridge and the Iola Basin of Blue Mesa Reservoir. The landscape opens up into high altitude (7,500 feet) sagebrush steppe. Reminders of a volcanic past are evident in the mesas and breccia surrounding you.

Beyond Iola, stop at the Elk Creek Visitor Center (16 miles west of Gunnison). Stop at the old Highway 50 beach, .25 miles west of the Elk Creek entrance, and take a swim or enjoy the view. Continuing west, you will pass the Cebolla Basin; keep your eyes open for the Bighorn Sheep that frequent the area.

After crossing Middle Bridge, the Dillon Pinnacles are in full view. Cross the Lake Fork Bridge, over the longest arm of the reservoir, to arrive at the junction of Colorado Highway 92 and Highway 50. Twenty miles west, visit the historic town of Cimarron where the Denver Rio Grande Narrow Gauge railroad exited the canyon. Turn at the Cimarron Visitor Center to see the railroad exhibits and see the Morrow Point Dam.

Back on Highway 50, head west to Montrose but make sure to stop at the south rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, just a 5 mile drive north on Colorado Highway 347.