Taylor Park Reservoir
By Jay Haynes
One of my favorite things to do in the whole world is camp and fish in and around Taylor Park. Taylor Park is just on the west side of the continental divide in the Gunnison Valley.
From Colorado Springs there are basically two ways to get there:
Me at Taylor Park - 2000
There are all kinds of fishing spots and places to see in Taylor Park. Some of my favorites are:
- First, and usually the way that I go, is to drive west on Highway 24 to Buena Vista (turn right where 24 dead ends at Johnson Village). Then, from Buena Vista, take Cottonwood Pass over the Continental Divide (going west) taking you right down into Taylor Park. Don't forget to bring your camera - the view is breathtaking!
- The other, longer, way is to drive west toward Monarch going over Monarch Pass. You can do this by taking Highway 24 west to Johnson Village, then turn left (south) on Highway 285. Turn left (west) on Highway 50 at Poncha Springs. When you get to Gunnison, you will go north-east on Highway 135 to Almont. At the fork in the road, go right and take the Taylor Canyon Road to Taylor Park.
- Taylor Park Reservoir - The reservoir itself provides excellent big fish catching. You can fish off the shore or rent a boat at the boathouse.
- Taylor River - Great for fly fishing!
- Taylor Canyon River - Also great fly fishing, but much of it is owned privately. It is your responsibility to know what is public and what is not.
- The Potholes - There are two overflow lakes that are on the river flowing from the north into Taylor Reservoir. They are called Pothole #1 and Pothole #2. Pothole #1 has too much moss for my taste, but #2 is excellent for fishing!
- Mirror Lake - One of the best kept secrets is Mirror Lake. It has excellent fishing (especially early in the morning) and great scenery. It is above Tincup which is east of Taylor Reservoir.
- Texas Creek - North-east of the Taylor Reservoir is a river called Texas Creek. I love this area because it has great fly fishing and two natural lakes.
- Willow Creek - There are actually three branches of Willow Creek... East (sometimes called lake), Middle and West Willow Creeks. They all come together in Tin Cup, then the river runs from Tin Cup to the reservoir through the South side of Taylor Park. There are lots of beaver ponds to fly fish or catch fish with lures on all of these streams.
- Others - Other nice fishing rivers include Cow Creek, Bull Creek, Illinois Creek, Italian Creek, Pie Plant Creek, and more! All provide great fishing opportunities. Plus, nearby Taylor Park (but not in Taylor Park) include Blue Mesa Reservoir and Spring Creek Reservoir, among others.
Links on the Web
Here are some basic links that I have found. If you know of others, please email me!
Mirror Lake - 2003
Pictures and Cams
I know its hard to believe, but there is not any available live Cam shots of Taylor Park! These are close, though:
- Aspen Cam - Aspen is just over the mountains.
- Crested Butte - Crested Butte is just down the road.
A (Very) Brief History of Taylor Park
The history of Taylor Park is in depth and fascinating! This hidden valley was first prospected in 1863 by gold miner Jim Taylor. Taylor was tracking stray horses and accidentally stumbled into the area in 1859. Soon it became known as Jim Taylor's Park - later as Taylor Park. Gold was discovered soon after and mines began to spring up everywhere. Some of the major mines in Taylor Park were the Gold Cup (the largest, producing over $1.5 million at a time when gold was $20 per ounce), Jimmie Mack, Enterprise, Forrest Hill, Blistering Horn, and Pie Plant. (Author's note: I have seen them all!)
Taylor Park Reservoir
The major towns were Hillerton, Abbeyville, Garfield, Bowman, Dorchester, and Tin Cup (originally known as Virginia City), which was at one time the busiest mining town in Gunnison County. Out of all these towns, only Tin Cup remains today!
The Taylor Dam that forms the Taylor Reservoir was was built in 1935 - 1937 by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation. This action was spear-headed by United States Representative Edward Taylor (no relation to Jim Taylor) whose home was in Glenwood Spings. Interestingly, while Taylor Park and Taylor River are named after Jim Taylor, the Taylor Dam and Taylor Reservoir are named after Congressman Edward Taylor!
For more fascinating stories and history about The Taylor Park area, I highly recommend the following books:
On a personal note, I have had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Harrington who was good enough to autograph my copies of her books. She is a part-time resident of Tin Cup and has the most amazing knowledge of the area! I would like to extend a personal thank you to Ms. Harrington for her time and dedication to keeping the past alive at Taylor Park.
- Colorado's Taylor Park Shangri-La by Eleanor Perry Harrington
- Colorado's Alluring Tin Cup by Conrad F. Schader
- I Remember Tin Cup by Eleanor Perry Harrington
Eleanor Perry Harrington's Compilation of the Tin Cup Cemetery - Check it out! This was compiled in 1988.
My Personal History of Taylor Park
My personal history concerning Taylor Park began in the Summer of 1968 - I was less than one year old! This is the first time I traveled to Taylor Park. I have traveled hundreds of times since, never growing tired of the incredible beauty that it holds. My parents took me several years to Taylor for my birthday - in fact I have spent more birthdays of my life there then any where else! I wouldn't have had it any other way. As a child I even spent a week there with the chicken pox - and I loved ever minute of it. As a teenager, my father and I began taking personal Father/Son trips to Taylor every year, spending at least a week togther fishing, camping, hiking, golfing in Crested Butte, and eating at the diner. We never could get enough of watching sunsets at Texas Creek or wetting a line at dawn in Mirror Lake. All the way through college, I enjoyed these times, which, I know now, I will never forget.
Now, today, as I have taken my own family to Taylor Park, I reflect on how much it has changed, but at the same time how much it has stayed the same. My step-daughter caught her first fish in Frenchies' Pond and has been hooked ever since. My ex-wife fell in love with it the minute we came over Cottonwood Pass and saw the view from above. She made me stop and take pictures even though I probably have hundreds. Even though today it has paved roads and electric gas pumps (I use to have to pump the gas by hand) it is still now, and will always be, Taylor Park.
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