The Blue Mesa Dam is of earthen construction (a dam built with layers of earth) and stands around 390 feet tall. It is on the Gunnison River within the Curecanti National Recreation Area. It’s construction formed the Blue Mesa Reservoir. It sits just before the river enters the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The dam is primarily used for hydroelectric power generation. The dam’s construction started in 1961 and was completed in 1966.
Staying At The KOA
At the time we did this ride we were staying at the KOA in Ouray Colorado. So as we usually do when we are in an area we plot out as many rides as possible. There is some great riding in this area. Probably the most well known would be the Million Dollar Highway. Check out our article and videos on the Million Dollar Highway (not switched over yet).
Starting In Ridgway
For the purposes of this article, we will start it at the Conoco gas station in Ridgway. As you come out of the Conoco gas station you will make a right onto US-550 heading towards Montrose. The first part of this stretch of road is scenic with great curves and mountainous views. As you get closer to Montrose however it becomes a little congested.
Montrose Is Congested
You will stay on US-550 through Montrose until you reach E. Main St (US-50) and you will make a right. Now earlier I said if you are closer to Montrose you can start this ride there. Along this first part of US-50, it is very congested but there are a few gas stations with food marts and bathrooms. If you know us you would realize that gas, food, and bathrooms are our 3 criteria for a good starting point for a ride.
Once you get through the beginning congestion you will start to get the feeling of this ride. For the next 30 miles or so until you get to CO-92, you will be taken through sweeping curves, changing elevations, and some awesome scenery. You will pass the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and the Cimarron suspended train. This part of the ride is made for just sitting back and cruising the winding roads.
Blue Mesa Dam & Reservoir
When you get to CO-92 you will make a left although you will probably feel like just continuing down US-50. Make no mistake, this section of the ride is where the roads and scenery take it up a notch. If you thought the last section was nice, you’ll love the upcoming one.
Lake Fork Campground
There is a campground just before the dam & reservoir that is a good stop for a bathroom break and a good stretch. We pulled into that campground for those reasons but were also treated to some scenic views. The name of the campground was Lake Fork Campgrounds.
After a good stretch and bathroom break at the campground, we were on our way again. This time for only a short distance. We crossed over the dam and there was a parking lot on the right side which we took full advantage of.
Our Favorite Part Coming Up
After grabbing a bunch of pictures, we were on our way again. This section was an amazing part of the ride that took you along mountainous, twisty, and super scenic roads. It was our favorite part of the ride. As you enjoy the twisty and scenic roads along the Gunnison River, you will want to ride on forever. This is what riding is all about.
Hermits Rest Overlook
There is an overlook along the way that has a parking area and restrooms if needed. It’s called Hermits Rest Overlook. It overlooks the Morrow Point Dam & Reservoir. Must I add the views are spectacular from here? There are placards explaining all about the area you are in. There are also some picnic tables if you would like to sit and have a snack.
After leaving the rest area you will continue on to a town called Hotchkiss. It is not as congested as Montrose so it’s a nice ride through. This will eventually lead you back onto US-50. If you continue on US-50 into Montrose it turns into US-550 which will lead you back to your starting point.
This was an awesome ride. It had a little bit, ok a lot of everything that makes rides good. Twisty, mountainous roads, numerous photo ops, and great scenery for most of the ride. We usually take along our own food and find a scenic area to eat and this ride had plenty of those stops. If you are one to eat on the road then Montrose would probably be your best best for food. We thoroughly enjoyed this ride and would recommend it to anyone in this area of Colorado.
Total Approximate Miles: 140 If Starting & Ending In Montrose
Total Approximate Miles: 192 Miles Starting & Ending At The Conoco Gas Station In Ridgway
Check Out Our Slideshow Featuring 68 More Photos Of This Ride
Check Out Our Video On Our YouTube Channel