Blue Mesa Reservoir (Curecanti National Park)
Located between the towns of Gunnison and Montrose, Blue Mesa is the largest body of water in the state of Colorado. It is 20 miles long, has 96 miles of shoreline to explore, and encompasses 41,972 acres. Consistent southwesterly winds, that begin building in the late morning, make for ideal sailing conditions. We sail out of the Elk Creek Marina, the largest marina on the lake.
Map of Blue Mesa
Information for sailors:
Winds: Early in the morning, from 6am-8am, Blue Mesa often experiences light winds out of the Southeast. The lake is typically calm from 8am to 11am. Around 11am wind direction switches and comes from the west/southwest. This wind can build quickly, and most days the wind speed ranges from 14-24 knots. Thunderheads often move by the lake in the early afternoon, in mid summer. These concentrated cells can pack a real punch, and winds can increase quickly to over 30 knots, so be wary.
Hazards: Check with the Curecanti visitor center to obtain a map of Blue Mesa with many of the hazards on it. Several sets of power lines crossing canyons are the biggest hazard at peak water levels, for larger boats.
1. There are power cables slung across the canyon as you head west from the Elk Creek Marina, out towards Cebolla Basin. The first set of power lines, shortly after you exit the marina, are high overhead and are not a concern. The second set of cables, slope down crossing the channel as you are about to enter Cebolla Basin. These power lines (purported to transmit 240,000 Volts) are reported to be 40 feet above the high water mark. In a 25 foot sailboat, with a 33 foot mast, and 5 feet of freeboard, you would come close! At peak high water we favor the eastern side of the channel, where the water is very deep close to the cliffs. This allows us to keep an eye on the power lines and ghost on under.
2. A third set of power lines, strung over the entrance to Cebolla Creek, can be an additional concern. We have not been able to find out the exact height of these cables, but they appear to be a little higher than the previously mentioned cables. At high water, we favor the western shore of the inlet, again getting as close as we safely can to land.
3. There are several submerged rock formations, that lie just below the lake surface. Please check the map to learn where these are located, as it would be a real shame to hit them!
Camping: Several scenic boat-in camping areas, operated by the National Park, can be found on Blue Mesa. These can be used on a first come, first serve basis. Many offer pit toilets, picnic tables and fire rings.
Fishing: Fishing on Blue Mesa is excellent, with several species of fish to target. Very large lake trout (think 30-50lbs) can be caught in the early Spring and Fall. Kokanee Salmon are abundant and are one of the favorite fish targeted by local fisherman. Rainbow Trout and Brook Trout can also be caught. To find out what’s biting and what to use, swing by the Elk Creek Marina and talk to the helpful folks there.