Gunnison River, Colorado


Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area, Colorado. Photo courtesy of BLM


The Gunnison River, which flows through Gunnison Gorge, McInnis Canyons and Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Areas, is 164 miles long and the fifth largest tributary of the Colorado. It also flows through the Black Canyon, one of the longest, narrowest and deepest gorges in the world. It empties into the Colorado River near the town of Grand Junction, which is also headquarters of the Colorado Canyons Association—a group that fosters community stewardship for the three National Conservation Areas.

Opportunities for Better Protecting the Gunnison River

    • The North Fork of the Gunnison River flows into the Gunnison River in the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. Members of the Western Slope Conservation Center, based in Paonia, are stewards of the North Fork and are working on a “community alternative” Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the North Fork region that will better protect the watersheds from the impacts of oil and gas drilling.
    • Colorado Canyons Association hosts on-site education events for school kids from three counties, supports trail monitors, and has helped with restoration work on the Gunnison and North Fork of the Gunnison. Stewards of three archaeologically significant National Conservation Areas, the Colorado Canyons Association organizes frequent public lectures with regional experts about the river and early Native American settlement and culture.
    • Local conservation organizations, with assistance from The Wilderness Society, are helping to write a new Resource Management Plan for the national conservation areas containing the Gunnison River. This is an opportunity to establish sound management principles that will protect the river and lands for decades to come.

Who’s doing what, where, on the Gunnison?

Maps, Video and Stories

The Colorado Canyons Association was named “Friends Group of the Year” in 2011 at the Friends Grassroots Rendezvous, the annual meeting hosted by the Conservation Lands Foundation.

News articles

Peter Heller writes for Bloomberg Businessweek about the threats the Gunnison and North Fork of the Gunnison face from fracking and other oil and gas drilling.

The Denver Post reports on fishing the Gunnison River, featuring the Kokanee salmon and other favorites.

This is a page on the The Wilderness Society’s website about on-going efforts to write a balanced and effective Resource Management Plan for the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area, one of the places the Gunnison River flows through.

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