Gunnison River

Section 5 - NorthFork Confluence to Hwy65 bridge


The first part of Section 5 was the sight of the Annual Delta Crazy Raft Race which took place from 1985 to 2000.. The participants were required to build a raft, parade down Delta's Main Street, and then float the river from Leon's Pleasure Park at the Smith Fork confluence 6.75 miles downstream to Austin (private property and available only for the race). It was a fun event with cash prizes, trophies, and plenty of partying.

About a mile or two below the start of this run is a boulder dam.  Stay left.  There is a nice chute on river left about ten feet from the bank.

Boulder dam at 690 cfs

  In the raft race the rafts went anywhere over the dam and seem to survive it.  About four miles further down the river there is a place the raft racers call the "Trash Collector".   There were railroad rails driven vertically in the river at about 10 foot intervals and rebar across the river and much of the time they were just below the surface.  During low water the farmers plow dirt onto "the trash collector" to build a temporary dam for irrigation.  Spring runoff normally blows the dam out and the lucky rafts got through.  Some rafts got impaled on the rails, some get caught just like so much trash (see picture below). 


 The Gunnison Gorge Anglers, the local chapter of Trout Unlimited, undertook the task of getting this hazard fixed.  After countless presentations and hard work over several years the job was completed.  The vertical railroad rails and rebar were removed and replaced with a more natural appearing boulder dam with a nice boating chute on river right as shown in the picture below at about 500 cfs.


Above photo courtesy Gunnison Gorge Anglers

Before you get to the Hwy 92 bridge there is one more diversion dam with clear passage on river right as shown in the picture below:


Put in:

Highway 92 twenty miles west of Delta exit south on 39.89 Road. This is the road to the "Pleasure Park" so watch for signs. When you reach the river you will find the Pleasure Park to right and the BLM park to the left. The BLM park is free, the Pleasure Park is not.   No camping in BLM park.  Toilets are available.  Picture below is at the put in looking upstream at the confluence of the North Fork and the Gunnison.


Take out:

The takeout is at the Hwy 65 bridge.   There was a killer dam between Hwy 65 bridge and Delta so you had takeout at Hwy65 bridge, but once again the Gunnison Gorge Anglers, the local chapter of Trout Unlimited, undertook the task of getting this hazard fixed.   Below is a photo of the passage around the previously impassable Hartland Dam.  The Gunnison River can now be run all the way from the North Fork Confluence to the Redlands Power Dam at Grand Junction.



12.75 miles to Hwy 65  take out.

River Rating:

Class II