Monday, July 22, 2019

Blue Mesa Dam, Powerhouse & Reservoir

Location: Elk Creek Campground (National Forest); near Gunnison, Colorado (elev 7,600 ft)

all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone

Thru stop # 6

Today was exploring the Blue Mesa Reservoir and the Blue Mesa Dam that created it. The dam blocked the Gunnison River and created the second largest reservoir in the state of Colorado. The dam was built in the early 60's as part of the Colorado River Storage Project. There are many justifications for its construction. It is a Hydroelectric Dam and will generate electricity for the next 100+ years. It also regulates the amount of water the Gunnison River delivers to the Colorado River by regulating the amount of water it releases. This helps the farmers down stream. It also created a very nice looking lake for recreation. All in all,,,, it is money well spent. 
The Visitors Center and cloudy day to start the exploration.

The Gunnison River begins up in the Rockies near the Monarch Pass that I crossed the other day. It begins its flow west by collecting melting snow from nearby streams and underground springs. It meanders through a flood plain for several miles before it drops into a canyon. It is at this canyon entrance where the dam is located. It is an earth fill dam standing 390 feet tall. 

The dam is the beginning of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison which is not only a canyon but a National Park. I will explore the park in the next couple of days. Today was seeing the dam and a few miles downstream from a few overlooks along a state highway running along the north rim of the canyon.
A state highway runs along the top of the dam and this picture is taken from the dam looking upstream at just a small part of the reservoir/lake.

This taken from just downstream of the dam. Looking at the bottom left it appears to be the old diversion piping used to divert the river until the dam could be built. Also notice the two streams of water exiting real fast. That water has just spun the turbines which generates around 90 Mega Watts of electricity. The dirt road on the right is from maintenance worker to service the powerhouse and constantly inspect the dam.

This is from the same vantage point as the previous picture but now looking downstream. If you didn't know better, you could tell there was a dam just upstream.

This is taken at the end of a pathway leading to an outcropping of rock

This picture looked really great when I was taking it. I guess it is one of those things about "I guess you had to be there".

This is another one that looked better taking it than now. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.  



  1. Black Canyon of the Gunnison was the first National Park we visited after we started traveling full time. We are up to 41 now. Enjoy, it is amazing.

  2. Love that area. Every time we've gone the road going down is closed (guess we visit too close to winter). Looks like a beautiful drive going down. Beautiful pictures..thank you!