River Recreation

Boating on rivers and streams are important contributors to both the quality of life and the economy of the Gunnison Basin. This article discusses the economic importance of whitewater recreation to the basin.

Recreation has recently become a factor in water management decisions. Whitewater parks have been established near Gunnison, Montrose, and Ridgway, with structures placed in the rivers to enhance the whitewater boating experience. The Gunnison Whitewater Park has its own water right. Recreation can also influence the operation of existing facilities. For instance, releases from Taylor Reservoir are timed to accommodate boaters and anglers as well as irrigators. In addition, some aging diversion structures have been reengineered to benefit fish and boaters as well as irrigators.

Popular boating locations:


As the experienced boater knows, flows (cfs) of the river greatly impact the experience, and difficulty, of a ride. Utilize the reference the links below to stream gauges and flow websites to know before you go:

  • American Whitewater: This is an exhaustive list of all of the flows in the state, comparing stream gauge data with optimal flow levels as surveyed from American Whitewater’s 2013 Gunnison River Flow Survey, to create an easy to digest template . Most streams also have the rapids described, in addition to access points, pictures, and user comments providing additional information.
  • Our Data & Gauges page provides links to all of the USGS stream gauges and reservoir levels, in addition to CO Division of Water Resources gauges, streamlined for Gunnison Basin users.


  • The Colorado River Outfitters Association provides information on boating opportunities and outfitters in the Gunnison Basin here.
  • The  Gunnison-based non-profit River Restoration Adventures for Tomorrow (RRAFT) does river trips for restoration, research and environmental education purposes.