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Colorado's National Parks

08/30/16 at 05:09 AM by Vince Puzick


100 Years and counting!  The National Park Service is celebrating 100 years of providing recreational activities and great outdoors adventures since 1916.  And two of Colorado’s four national parks offer great fly fishing through the fall season! 


Rocky Mountain National Park (founded in 1915) offers great fishing in the last weeks of summer and into fall.  The last month of summer gives anglers the chance to throw some terrestrials to hungry fish in easily accessible streams.  Want to escape those easibly accessible waters?  Venture out on an hour-long hike to one of the lakes at elevation.  No matter what option you choose, though, start early in the day and plan on getting to lower elevation before the afternoon storms start to roll in.  You don’t want to be caught in rain, lightning, and even a quick snow storm. In October, the morning chill might put a thin sheet of ice against the bank of these streams, but by 10:00, the ice is melted and the fish are putting on their feedbag to protein-up for winter.  The terrestrial bite is happening through October.  Read more about fly fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park here.


rmnp photo: Matt Inden/Miles.


The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is Colorado’s other national park  (established 1999) with great fly fishing opportunities.  The Gunnison River is designated Gold Medal Waters for the twelve miles through the Black Canyon. The Gold Medal Waters begin 200 yards downstream of Crystal Dam and continue to the North Fork of the Gunnison River.  A word of caution: the hike to the river from parking areas at the rim is brutal.  Because of the steep terrain, some boulder scrambling, and the length of the hike, this can definitely be considered a wilderness trip.  Read about the challenge as written up by Louis Cahill. 


"National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst." – Wallace Stegner, 1983


A shout out to the other two national parks in Colorado.


The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve is a spectacular sight to see in the San Luis Valley.  Although there is not fishing specifically in the Park, a relatively short drive west puts you on the Rio Grande River and if you head south, there’s good fishing on the Conejos River.


Mesa Verde National Park in the southwest corner of Colorado offers a great vacation sight for families.  These ancient cliff dwellings are mythical in their history and a testament to the indigenous people’s ingenuity to carve out  living space for whole communities in a harsh and inhospitable environment. Nearby, the Animas River is an incredibly challenging river to fish.  



And finally, a shout out to the National Park Service.  For over 100 years, the NPS has worked to preserve and conserve these natural wonders. 



So, we tip our hat to you, Park Ranger, and thank you for a job well-done.  Here’s to another 100 years! 


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