Blue Mesa Reservoir
This, the largest body of water in Colorado, can be a great place to see waterbirds in spring and fall. Concentrations of ducks can be especially impressive, with good numbers of Barrow’s Goldeneye during the weeks before the water freezes in December. Butterfly enthusiasts can find a population of Strecker’s Giant-Skipper in the yucca-covered hillsides to the south of the reservoir along CO 149. Pronghorn can be seen in this area as well. The reservoir is part of the Curecanti National Recreation Area, which has three visitor centers and several picnic areas and campgrounds, most of which are closed in winter.
Directions: The reservoir is along US 50 west of Gunnison. The best birding is at the east end, starting 9 miles west of town, where CO 149 heads south along the shore.
Delorme: 68 A1
Roads of Colorado: 100 A4-B3
Dates of Access: Open all year, but reservoir is frozen in winter
Ownership: National Park Service
Admission: Only one access point (East Portal) charges a fee; all other access is free
Parking: Gravel and paved parking lots
Lodging: Campgrounds (mostly summer) or hotels in Gunnison
Handicapped Access: Viewing from car and from parking areas and overlooks; several campgrounds are accessible