In 1853 Lieutenant John Gunnison was sent to survey a railroad route across Colorado's Rocky Mountains. Colorado's Gunnison River and the town of Gunnison were each named after the Lieutenant, whose route across the state follows much of what is now Highway 50.

Colorado's Gunnison River is vital to the western slope's agriculture, wildlife, and gold-medal fishing areas. The water from the Gunnison River more than doubles the volume of the Colorado River, where the two meet near Grand Junction. Keep going to learn twelve cool facts you may not have known about the Gunnison River.
Read More: Is Colorado's Amazing Black Canyon of the Gunnison a Scary Place?

Colorado's Second-Largest River By Volume

The Gunnison River is the second-largest river by volume in Colorado. The river helps to create Colorado's largest body of water at Blue Mesa Reservoir before it begins to tumble into a deep and narrow canyon that becomes the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The river flows northwest from the Black Canyon to Grand Junction to complete a 180-mile trip to the river's mouth from its headwaters.

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How Old Is Colorado's Gunnison River?

The Gunnison River is believed to have started flowing in force nearly 2 million years ago. Slowly over time, the Gunnison River cut through volcanic and metamorphic rock to form Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Read More: How Deep Is The Colorado River?

Colorado’s Gunnison River is the last major sub-basin that has not been diverted toward the Front Range. Doing so would impact fishing, wildlife, and agriculture projects in several of the state's western counties.

Water from the Gunnison River is vital for Delta, Montrose, and Grand Junction, and the North Fork of the Gunnison is relied on heavily by communities like Hotchkiss and Paonia in Western Delta County.

Keep going to learn 12 cool facts about the Gunnison River you may not have known about.

10 Cool Facts You May Not Have Known About Colorado’s Gunnison River

Colorado's Gunnison River is the largest tributary of the Colorado River, stretching from the Continental Divide to Grand Junction, Colorado. Keep reading to learn twelve facts you may not have known about one of Western Colorado's most important waterways.

Gallery Credit: Wesley Adams

MORE: Thirteen Cool Facts About Colorado’s Uncompahgre River

Western Colorado is home to the Colorado River, the Gunnison River, and the Uncompahgre River. As the smallest of the three, most people aren't as familiar with this important waterway serving Ridgway, Montrose, and Delta. Keep going to learn thirteen cool facts about the Uncompahgre River in western Colorado.

Gallery Credit: Wesley Adams

EVEN MORE: 12 Facts You May Not Know About Colorado’s San Miguel River

Colorado's San Miguel River is one of the best places to enjoy floating, fishing, and hiking on the Western Slope from July to September. Beginning high in the San Juan Mountains south of Telluride, the San Miguel River travels along the Uncompaghre Plateau into Montrose County, where it joins with the Dolores River.

Gallery Credit: Wesley Adams

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