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Gunnison Gorge Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning

Area Management

The Gunnison Gorge Wilderness is part of the 110 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude. You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness" as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964. Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.


• Unless otherwise specified, no motorized equipment or mechanical transport, with the exception of wheelchairs, is allowed.

• User fees are required in the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area for people age 16 and older. Day use fees are $3 per person. Overnight fees are $10 per person for one night and $15 per person for two nights. Two nights is the maximum stay limit in the wilderness.

• An annual day use pass is available for $15. It allows the owner of the pass day use of the wilderness (in and out the same day) for one year from the date of issue. Overnight use and/or additional people are subject to the fees detailed above.

• Hikers must register at the trailhead.

• Pit toilets are located on the river end of Ute and Duncan trails. If you’re hiking, use these. River runners use their own portable toilets.


• The maximum stay in the wilderness is 2 nights.

• Camp in established campsites only.

• No wood fires are allowed. You must use either a camp stove or charcoal in a fire pan and pack out all ashes.

• All dishwater must be strained before returning it to the river.

• Pack out all trash (including cigarette butts) and human waste.

• Do not urinate around campsites, instead, do so in the river. The soils of the Gorge do not handle the acids easily and the smell will accumulate with frequent use.

Registering a campsite:

1. Select your preferred camp(s) from the river map. Boaters must camp in blue sites; hikers must camp in green sites.

2. Because users are registering at different starting points, it’s necessary to register and stick with the campsite you choose. Otherwise you may displace another party or find yourself displaced. Check the Registration Form in the Visitor Registration Box to make sure another group has not reserved the camp you selected. Registration boxes for the Bobcat, Duncan and Ute Trails are located at the trailheads. The Chukar Box is located at the end of the Chukar Trail at the river.

3. Sign-in and enter your campsite number and /or name in the “Reserved Campsite” box. Please be sure to supply all the information requested. Remember your campsite number and look for the post which marks it’ location in the Gorge. Overflow camps below the Smith Fork are marked by a brown post only and may be used by hikers or boaters on a first-come basis.


• One person, or the head guide of commercial trips, must register at the Chukar put-in, Gunnison Forks, Bobcat, Duncan, or Ute trailheads. This requirement is in addition to the fee permit.

• The maximum group size is 12 and applies to both day and overnight use. All OVERNIGHT USER regulations apply to boaters.

• Portable, re-usable camp toilets are required.

• Pack out all trash (including cigarette butts) and human waste. A boater waste station is located at the Gunnison Forks takeout for disposal of human waste.

• All commercial users must have a commercial permit issued by the BLM and must be licensed by the State.

• All commercial users must have a current copy of the Special Recreation Permit in possession.

• Motorized watercraft are prohibited in the Gunnison Gorge. (One commercial operator is allowed limited motorized use of the river below the Smith Fork.)

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