Navajo State Park 50th anniversary celebration set for Saturday, Aug. 23


By Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Special to The SUN

This year marks the 50th anniversary of southwest Colorado’s Navajo State Park, and the public is invited to visit the park on Aug. 23 for activities and programs to commemorate the opening. A special ceremony will be held at noon.

Anyone who participated in the construction or planning of the Navajo dam project or the park is asked to send an email to Janet Clawson, park naturalist, who is collecting historical information. She also would like to hear from people who lived in the area at the time and remember development of the project, and from longtime visitors to the park. Clawson is also trying to find old pictures of the area. Contact her at or call the park at 883-2208.

The park facilities opened in 1964, two years after completion of Navajo dam in New Mexico by the federal Bureau of Reclamation. The dam, built on the San Juan River, backed the water up 35 miles into Colorado. The reservoir’s surface totals 15,600 acres, with about 3,000 acres on the Colorado side.

The dam was constructed as part of the Colorado River Storage Project, which also includes the Aspinall Unit on the Gunnison River, which formed Blue Mesa Reservoir; Flaming Gorge dam in Wyoming on the Green River; and Glen Canyon dam on the Colorado River. The system supplies water for agriculture, industrial, municipal and recreational uses.

Navajo Reservoir provides the principal storage for the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project, which sends water to 110,000 acres of agricultural land on the Navajo Reservation.

Navajo State Park is a major recreational facility in southwest Colorado, drawing more than 300,000 visitors every year. The 2,100-acre park offers boating, fishing, trails, wildlife viewing, 138 camp sites and three cabins.