Curecanti National Recreation Area consists of three reservoirs along the Gunnison River between Montrose and Gunnison. The West Elk Scenic Loop travels through the Curecanti NRA, both from highway 96 and US 50. Options for boating, fishing, bird watching, camping and hiking are the mainstays of the NRA. The largest lake in Colorado, the Blue Mesa Reservoir is the most accessible of the three lakes. Blue Mesa is 20 miles long with a total of 96 miles of shoreline. The record lake trout was taken at Blue Mesa in 2007, weighing in at 50 pounds, 5 ounces and being 44 1/4 inches in length.
There are ten campgrounds with a variety of services for tent campers and recreational vehicles.
- Elk Creek Campground: 16 miles west of Gunnison on US 50, open year around, 160 sites.
- Lake Fork Campground: 27 miles west of Gunnison on US 50, open late spring to fall, 90 sites.
- Stevens Creek Campground: 12 miles west of Gunnison on US 50, open late May to fall, 53 sites.
- Cimarron Campground: 20 miles east of Montrose on US 50, open spring to fall, 21 sites.
- East Portal Campground: located 2 miles downstream of Crystal Dam at the bottom of Black Canyon, open spring to fall, 15 sites The East Portal Road has 15% grades and hairpin curves, vehicles greater than 22 feet are prohibited.
- Dry Gulch Campground: just north of US 50, 17 miles west of Gunnison, open spring to fall, 9 sites.
- Ponderosa Campground: follow US 50, turn onto Colorado 92, cross Blue Mesa Dam, take Soap Creek Road (1/2 mile past the dam) 7 miles north (gravel road), open spring to fall, 28 sites.
- GateviewCampground: Take CO Highway 149, 7 miles west of Powderhorn, then 6 miles north on Blue Mesa Cutoff Road, open spring to fall, 6 sites.
- Red Creek Campground: 19 miles west of Gunnison, just north of US 50, open spring to fall, 1 individual and 1 group site.
- East Elk Creek Campground: 16.5 miles west of Gunnison, just north of US 50, open spring to fall, 1 group site.