Morrow Point Boat Tour is only 1.5 hours from Ouray, Colorado in Curecanti National Recreation Area
The Morrow Point Boat Tour is an easy day trip from Ouray and a great way to spend a day on your Southwest Colorado vacation. The tour typically runs from Memorial Day until Labor Day and departs from the Pine Creek Access Point at Curecanti National Recreation Area (mile marker 130 on US50, one mile or so east of Sapinaro). The ranger guided tour lasts for 90 minutes and floats along the ultra smooth waters of the Gunnison River between Blue Mesa Dam and the Morrow Point Dam. Access to this body of water is very limited so there is very little boat traffic (we only saw one person in a kayak who was fishing).
The canyon walls tower above the water and as you begin your float downstream, the park ranger spends the first forty-five minutes explaining the unique geology as well as the flora and fauna of the canyon, the discovery of the canyons, the history of the railroads and the creation of the dams. Birds soar overhead while small mammals scurry along the banks searching for food. Wild rasberries dot the landscape as well as sagebrush and gambel oak and a combination of firs and spruce trees. On the return portion of the ride, the ranger mingles with the tourists and you can enjoy the ride. Eating is permitted on the boat.
Access to the boat tour consists of a long walk down some stairs followed by a wonderful dirt path along the river. It amounts to some 3/4 mile walk one way and 232 stairs down the canyon walls and then 232 stairs up to the parking area following your excursion. There is no easy way out except a very slow ascent but there are several benches along the way so take your time. In addition, there are wonderful picnic sites with some shade along the path by the river and it is a wonderful place to enjoy a restful snack either before or after your tour.
If you go:
You must have reservations and have paid in advance as they have no way to take a payment from the dock. July is a busy month so plan a few days ahead to ensure your party can be accommodated.
Sit on the starboard side of the boat for best viewing. It is an out and back tour so technically, you will get great views regardless of which side you choose but the canyon is nearly east/west so the sun will be at your back during the morning tour while heading downstream and might help you get better photos.
- Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat. It is hot in the canyon and there will be plenty of sun.