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Only something truly breathtaking and extraordinary would make it worth carrying a kayak down 232 steps. The steep, rocky cliffs meeting the clear blue water of Morrow Point Reservoir is an experience that exceeds normal expectations, making it well worth the journey.
An impoundment of the Gunnison River, Morrow Point Reservoir was created with the construction of the Morrow Point Dam in 1968. Together with its larger and more accessible sister, Blue Mesa Reservoir, and downstream, Crystal Reservoir, the three make up the Wayne N. Aspinall Storage Unit. Although the Unit was primarily created for water storage, Morrow Point Dam's main purpose is to generate hydroelectric power. Morrow Point and its sister reservoirs are under the control of the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation.
In 1965, the Curecanti National Recreation Area was created to manage the land around the Aspinall Unit. Named for the Ute chief Curicata, the recreation area offers ample opportunities to explore the wildlife and history of western Colorado. There are hiking trails for visitors of all skill levels and horseback riding in specified areas. For the truly adventurous, there is good rock climbing on the steep rocky cliffs and ice climbing in the winter. Guides and outfitters are available about twelve miles upstream near Blue Mesa Reservoir.
Although the only boats allowed on Morrow Point Reservoir are those that can be carried down the steps, there is a public pontoon boat that gives hour and a half long tours of the reservoir. Taking visitors through the Upper Black Canyon, the boat with its ranger guide, is a great way to explore the beautiful shoreline and rock formations. Those who make the trip down the steps with canoes or sea kayaks will find an adventure. The water at the beginning of the reservoir is swift and challenging but becomes still and calm further on with plenty to explore along the rocky shoreline. Visitors wanting to extend their stay can boat in to the shore to camp. There is good fishing, including fly fishing. At the end of the trip, however, the boats must be carried back up those steps.
For visitors who are less adventurous, the reservoir can be explored from Scenic US Highway 50 or one of the other scenic byways. Starting above the Blue Mesa Reservoir, Highway 50 follows the Gunnison River through Curecanti, past Morrow Point Reservoir and Crystal Reservoir to the south rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, with plenty to see along the way. The Curecanti area has a rich and diverse history beginning with the Ute Indians, followed by the miners and fur traders, and finally the railroad which was carrying ore and cattle through Curecanti by 1882.
Morrow Point Reservoir is itself best suited for the more adventurous traveler. With the proximity of Blue Mesa Reservoir and all Curecanti National Recreation Area has to offer, however, Morrow Point Reservoir is a glorious addition to any western Colorado getaway.
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