North Fork Gunnison River

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North Fork Gunnison River
North Fork Gunnison River.JPG
The river near Paonia, Colorado.
CountryUnited States
Physical characteristics
SourceRocky Mountains
 • coordinates38°56′35″N 107°21′8″W / 38.94306°N 107.35222°W / 38.94306; -107.35222[1]
 • elevation6,470 ft (1,970 m)[2]
MouthGunnison River
 • coordinates
38°46′58″N 107°50′12″W / 38.78278°N 107.83667°W / 38.78278; -107.83667Coordinates: 38°46′58″N 107°50′12″W / 38.78278°N 107.83667°W / 38.78278; -107.83667[1]
 • elevation
5,096 ft (1,553 m)[2]
Basin size741 sq mi (1,920 km2)[3]
 • locationBelow Paonia[3]
 • average227 cu ft/s (6.4 m3/s)[3]
 • minimum4.4 cu ft/s (0.12 m3/s)
 • maximum3,990 cu ft/s (113 m3/s)

The North Fork Gunnison River (locally known as the North Fork) is a tributary of the Gunnison River, 33.5 miles (53.9 km) long,[4] in southwestern Colorado in the United States. It drains part of the southwestern flank of the Elk Mountains northeast of Delta.

It is formed in the mountains of northwestern Gunnison County by the confluence of Muddy Creek and Anthracite Creek. The confluence is located along State Highway 133 on the south side of McClure Pass. It descends to the southwest through a widening valley past Somerset, Paonia, and Hotchkiss. It joins the Gunnison in eastern Delta County downstream from the Black Canyon between Delta and Hotchkiss. The valley of the river, called the North Fork Valley, has a temperate climate that has historically been a center of fruit growing in southwestern Colorado. It is also a regional center of the coal mining industry, centered on the mining town of Somerset in the upper valley. Modern coal mining operations are highly visible along the upper valley walls. The creeks at the headwaters of the river pass through areas of highly erodible shale, resulting in high concentrations of sediment during springtime runoff.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: North Fork Gunnison River, USGS GNIS.
  2. ^ a b Google Earth elevation for GNIS coordinates.
  3. ^ a b c Water Data Report, Colorado 2003, from Water Resources Data Colorado Water Year 2003, USGS.
  4. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 18, 2011