The Road to Taylor Park Reservoir, Gunnison National Forest

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There are several good reasons to delay your arrival in Gunnison by a few hours, and take a detour into the mountains of the Gunnison National Forest.  Among them, the chance to see a ghost town, a cool old cemetery, the Continental Divide, and a reservoir nestled at the foot of jagged mountain peaks.  Let’s start with the last one first.

As you drive south on CO Rte. 135, watch for the community of Almont (10 miles north of Gunnison).  Turn onto County Road 742, a paved backroad that leads to Taylor Park Reservoir.

Just off Rte. 135, the town of Almont consists of just a handful of businesses, including some cabins.  The giant fish on one of the buildings can serve as your first clue: there are endless fishing opportunities all along the Taylor River.

CR 742 follows alongside the river all the way to the reservoir.  It’s a curvy but scenic road, that wasn’t spoiled by the threat of rain.  I was also excited to see that this road is paved.  For some reason, my map gave me the impression that it was dirt.

There were at least a dozen fishermen spread out around this area, where the road crosses the Taylor River.  My angling expertise is somewhat limited, but Rocky Mountain Game and Fish Magazine explains that this spot is filled with huge trout (10 to 14 inches), which are notoriously hard to catch.  The best fishing is in May and June.

 

After the bridge, the road climbs…

… until you reach this viewpoint of the 206-foot-high Taylor Park Dam.

Taylor Park Dam was constructed between 1935 and 1937.  The dam, canyon, river, and lake were all named after Jim Taylor, who discovered gold in the area in 1859.


Click the image to see a larger version.

Above the dam, there are several good places to pull off the road and admire the lake.  If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the view on a slightly more beautiful day, one with a blue sky and a great reflection of the mountains on the glassy surface of the reservoir.  During my visit, the weather was a little less awesome, but it was still a beautiful sight.

You can spend the night at the reservoir.  Taylor Park Trading Post also offers cabins and RV hookups, as well as a restaurant and gift shop.  It’s also a good place to find out if the nearby mountain passes are open (in my case, Cottonwood Pass was open, but Cumberland Pass–south of Tincup–was not).

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