Gunnison Bend Reservoir, Utah, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Utah - Panoramaland -

Gunnison Bend Reservoir gets its name from the nearby town of Gunnison (it lies to the East of the lake), and from the big bend in the middle. It should not be confused with Gunnison Reservoir, which lies on the opposite side of the aforementioned town. Gunnison Bend is the result of a horseshoe bend in the Sevier River that was subsequently dammed to create the reservoir.

The area was settled by a group of pioneers sent out by the Church of the Latter Day Saints to expand their holdings. Farms were started, and the town of Deseret was created. Every year the farms and town were flooded by the spring thaw, and then tormented by drought. The local pioneers realized that the yearly replacement of their sticks-and-stones dam was growing a bit tedious. The spring thaw from the nearby mountains repeatedly washed out the crudely built dam and flooded the nearby fields. In 1895 a “real” dam was constructed, but it was not enough to hold back the thaw. For the next 12 years, a few feet were added to the dam until 1907 when the final changes were made.

In 1909 and 1910, flooding was severe enough that it topped the dam yet again. No changes were made, though, and the dam proved to be enough for the next 73 years. In 1983 extremely severe flooding caused the dam to burst, and a new dam had to be constructed. It has held for 23 years, and seems to be going strong. The current dam is maintained by DMAD (originally the Delta, Melville, Abraham, and Deseret Irrigation Companies).

Gunnison Bend Reservoir is the last impoundment of the Sevier River. Upstream impoundments tap the river for irrigation water, so the river’s volume is greatly reduced by the time it reaches Gunnison Bend Reservoir. In turn, this reservoir’s outlets provide irrigation water to the area, essentially stopping the Sevier River from flowing any further. The last time the Sevier River flowed beyond Gunnison Bend Reservoir was during the 1983 flooding. The lake is classified as hypereutrophic (nutrient rich), due primarily to agricultural runoff.

Gunnison Bend Reservoir is a perfect location for water sports enthusiasts. There is one public boat launch and swimming beaches located at the only public park around the lake – Gunnison Bend Park. The park and its shoreline are the only parts of the lake that are accessible to the public, as 89% of the reservoir’s shoreline is privately owned.

Due to its shallow depth, the waters stay quite warm throughout the summer months. And, because of the shape of the lake, there are no large bays and large waves cannot form. Gunnison Bend Reservoir is a favorite for boating enthusiasts, water skiers, and jet skiers. The water isn’t exactly clear, but the warm temperatures make it excellent for swimming and sun bathing.

Anglers are as plentiful as the fish in Gunnison Bend Reservoir. The primary catch is bass, but you’ll also find catfish, yellow perch, carp, bluegill and some walleye. But, fish and fisherman aren’t the only wildlife you’ll find. Many varieties of migratory birds make Gunnison Bend Reservoir a stop on their yearly routes. You can see egrets, cranes, geese, and a multitude of ducks.

In the winter, the temperatures can drop as low as 10 degrees, allowing for some excellent ice fishing. In addition, the yearly Snow Goose Festival livens up the area in late winter/early spring. In early spring the thaw from the mountains swells the lake and helps it maintain a decent level through the 90 degree summers. Since little rain falls during the warm summer months, this extra keeps the lake from drying up altogether every year.

Things to do at Gunnison Bend Reservoir

  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Gunnison Bend Reservoir

  • Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Perch
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Gunnison Bend Reservoir Photo Gallery

Gunnison Bend Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: DMAD Company

Surface Area: 706 acres

Shoreline Length: 6 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 4,619 feet

Average Depth: 9 feet

Maximum Depth: 24 feet

Water Volume: 5,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1895

Water Residence Time: 7-10 days

Lake Area-Population: 3,209

Drainage Area: 5,372 sq. miles

Trophic State: Hypereutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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