Crystal Reservoir, Colorado, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Crystal Reservoir — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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All About Crystal Reservoir

In 1882 the Curecanti needle became the symbol for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. With its steep cliffs and rock formations, the area around Crystal Reservoir has been inspiring travelers ever since.

Created by the Crystal Dam in 1976, Crystal Reservoir is and impoundment of the Gunnison River. Along with its sister reservoirs, Morrow Point Reservoir and the much larger Blue Mesa Reservoir, the three together make up the Wayne N. Aspinall Storage Unit and impound more than 40 miles of the Gunnison River. The Aspinall Unit was created for hydroelectric power, flood control, and recreation, but its primary purpose was irrigation and water storage. Crystal Reservoir is also used for hydroelectric power and to stabilize and regulate the flow of water. The Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation controls the three dams and reservoirs.

Because of its rocky shoreline, visitors to Crystal Reservoir must hike down to reach the water. The only boats allowed on the reservoir are those that can be hand-carried down to the water. As a result, boating on Crystal Reservoir is a very isolated, private experience. Water levels can fluctuate significantly throughout the day, so boating should only be attempted by skilled boaters with guidance on local conditions.

Visitors do not have to be on the water, however, to enjoy Crystal Reservoir. Created in 1965 to manage the land on and around the Aspinall Unit, Curecanti National Recreation Area offers visitors of all adventure levels something to enjoy. Starting above the Blue Mesa Reservoir, continuing past the Morrow Point Reservoir, and ending below Crystal Reservoir where it meets the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the Curecanti Recreation Area has hiking for all skill levels, horseback riding, and camping both in campgrounds and back country. Although there are no specifically groomed areas, winter visitors to Curecanti can snowmobile, snowshoe, and cross country ski. There is also ice climbing and ice fishing.

Following the path of the Gunnison River, Scenic US Highway 50 allows visitors to drive over and along the three reservoirs with plenty to see and explore along the way. With its breathtaking scenery and rich history, Crystal Reservoir and the Curecanti National Recreation Area are sure to delight both the truly adventurous and the adventurous at heart.

Things to Do at Crystal Reservoir

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Ice Climbing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • National Park

Find Places to Stay at Crystal Reservoir

If you’re considering a Crystal Reservoir lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Crystal Reservoir Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Crystal Reservoir lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Crystal Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation

Surface Area: 301 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 6,700 feet

Water Volume: 12,891 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1976

Lake Area-Population: 5,409

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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