Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (2022)

Though not as massive as the Grand Canyon, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park still makes your jaw drop. The sheer drop down. Colorful designs on the canyon walls. The canyon itself may not be the biggest, but the overall effect never fails to wow at every turn.

Of all of Colorado’s national parks, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is probably the least known. On the positive, that means visitors can enjoy a quiet visit without battling crowds. But on the negative side, it means so many people are missing out on this unbelievable scenery.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (1)

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison

The story of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison begins roughly two million years ago when the Gunnison River began its sculpting of the rock. Over time, the river slowly eroded away the rock and sediment until we have the amazing canyon that we see today.

Sadly, with the numerous dams upstream, the river is no longer a master carver. The dams prevent sediment to travel down the river which is needed for erosion.

No other canyon in the U.S. has the combination of depth, narrowness, and sheerness of the Black Canyon.

  • 2,250 feet deep at Painted Wall
  • 40 feet wide at the Narrows
  • 1,100 feet across at the Chasm

And though you can’t tell from looking at it from high above, the river falls at an average of 95 feet per mile. This makes it easier for the river to erode and shape the canyon.

The area became a U.S. national park in 1999. It’s located roughly 250 miles southwest from Denver, CO and takes about 4 – 5 hours to get there.

Planning Your Visit to Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (2)

Standing at Pulpit Rock

There’s lot of activities you can do in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park including hiking, rock climbing, and fishing. But even if you are going to just stop at the many viewpoints, you still need to plan accordingly.

While at the Black Canyon, you will be at an elevation between 7,500 and 8,500 feet (2286/2590m). If you have never been at this altitude, make sure you take it easy to see how your body handles the height.

To help with the elevation, make sure that you have plenty of drinking water with you. Though there are water refill stations within the park, the water is brought in and should be used only for emergencies. And, there is hardly any shade. So, sun protection is mandatory.

And it’s possible to visit both the South and North Rims in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Each offer different experiences to the visitor, though the South Rim is the more popular side.

If you are planning of visiting both rims on your visit, note that it takes about 2 hours to drive from the south entrance to the north entrance. As there is no way across the canyon, you have to drive around it.

Safety at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (3)

Looking down to the Gunnison River from the North Rim

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison features some steep drop-offs. Though a majority of overlooks feature railing, some don’t. So, it is up to each guest to take care. In some places, the brave can walk right up to the very edge of the rim. But please don’t.

The canyon is millions of years old. So, you never know when a sturdy looking rock may decide to give way. In many places, it would be a straight 2,000-foot drop to the canyon floor.

And from above, please be respectful to the hikers who decide to hike the canyon floor. And that means not throwing any rocks into the canyon. Objects can reach speeds of 120 MPH seriously injuring or killing anything it hits upon landing.

South Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (4)

Black Canyon Views

A quick drive from Montrose, CO, the South Rim is the more accessible rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Driving through the surrounding farms, you think that there’s no possible way that an expansive canyon is lurking.

It’s an easy drive on Route 347 to the entrance of the South Rim of the Black Canyon. And the road is paved all the way to road’s end. It’s a narrow two-way road that snakes its way along the rim of the canyon.

There is no passing in the park and no places to pull over. And, the only parking is at the designated overlooks.

Facilities Along the South Rim

The South Rim has the only visitor center in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Here you can read about the nature of the canyon, buy souvenirs, and talk with rangers. There’s also a water refill station right outside.

The south rim also has a large campground with 88 sites near the entrance station. Sites are a mix of reservations and first-come first-serve and is open year-round.

Toilets are available throughout the South Rim drive. Each toilet has hand sanitizer available. You can find vault toilets at the following stops: Tomichi Point, Visitor Center, Pulpit Rock, Sunset View, and High Point.

And, you can even enjoy a picnic along the rim of the Black Canyon. Picnic tables are located at Pulpit Rock, Sunset View, and High Point.

There are no fuel services nor food services within the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. When visiting the south rim, you can find ample options for both at nearby Montrose, CO (15 miles away).

Black Canyon South Rim Overlooks

There are 12 scenic overlooks along the south rim in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Each offers a different perspective along the canyon. It’s not a see one and done.

If you are wanting to do all the overlooks, plan on taking 2-3 hours. If you are going to be doing one or two of the trails, plan on at least five hours in the national park.

Tomichi Point

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (5)

Tomichi Point Views

(Video) Things to Do at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (Where to Stay + What to Expect)

The first overlook is Tomichi Point. And what an introduction to the Black Canyon! If this vantage doesn’t make you excited to see more, you may want to check that you still have a pulse.

There’s a small viewing platform. But, for better views, walk over to the toilets. There you will see a trail that says Campgrounds and Visitor Center. Heading down the steps, if you go right, you end up below the viewing platform for an amazing view (bench included).

Going left on the trail to the visitor center, there’s another fork in the trail. Going right takes you to a different perspective on this section of the canyon. Taking the left trail, you will be on the Rim Rock Trail.

This 2-mile round trip trail follows the rim from the Visitor Center past Tomichi Point to the campgrounds. It’s a mostly level trail that is easy to do.

Gunnison Point

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (6)

Looking down at Gunnison Point

Access to Gunnison Point is behind the Visitor Center. A small series of steps leads down to an overlook. This is your first real glimpse into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

If you don’t suffer from vertigo, you can peer straight down to the river. The roar of the river fills the air. And the patterns of the rock start to take on shapes.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (7)

Gunnison Point View

Don’t forget to visit the other viewing platform with an epic view of the canyon and the river. When coming from the first overlook, don’t turn back to the visitor center. Instead, keep walking straight and you’ll come upon it.

From Gunnison Point, you can also access the Oak Flat Trail. This 2-mile loop trail is difficult as it drops 400 feet along the way for views of the canyon.

Pulpit Rock

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (8)

Pulpit Rock Views

Standing on a protruding rock, the Pulpit Rock overlook in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has an incredible view of the Gunnison River. Though the canyon may not be at its steepest here, it is at its most picturesque.

It’s a very short walk to Pulpit Rock with a few steps along the way.

Cross Fissures

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (9)

Cross Fissures View Point

It’s 357 yards to the Cross Fissures overlook. It’s a mostly level trail as you head to your first real glimpse into the heart of the Black Canyon.

The countless shapes formed by the eroding rock as well as patterns in the rock really take root here. And, you’ll notice that the canyon walls are getting higher.

Rock Point

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (10)

Heading to Rock Point

Rock Point Overlook is a fun stop. It’s 294 yards to the overlook and the walk there is a little different. First, you are on a path surrounded by shrubs. But then you walk a narrow path along a massive boulder as you come on top of a rocky outcrop.

At the far end is a viewing platform. There’s also room to sit and admire the view along a flat rock surface to the side of the platform.

Devils Lookout

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (11)

Devil’s Lookout

Besides High Point, Devils Lookout has the longest walk to viewpoint at 607 yards. As it’s very close to Rock Point, you don’t get much of a different look at the canyon.

If you are on a tight schedule, this is the one lookout I’d say to skip.

Chasm View

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (12)

The Chasm View from South Rim

At the Chasm View lookout, the widest part of the canyon is in front of you. And it’s stunning. You can even see a glimpse of the Painted Wall. As you look out, you can see the canyon stretch into the distance.

It’s a short walk to the overlook involving a few steps. There is an accessible ramp as well.

Painted Wall

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (13)

Painted Wall

(Video) Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park | Hike to the Bottom | Colorado

Probably the most famous feature in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is Painted Wall. Its patterns look like veins running through the rock. It’s breathtaking.

These veins were created billions of years ago from molten rock being squeezed into fractures and joints in the existing rock and then cooled. The affect is a 3D artwork done by Mother Nature.

And, standing at 2,300 feet, Painted Wall is also the highest cliff in Colorado. You can stand almost two Empire State Buildings on top of each other to match the height!

It’s a short walk to the viewing platform from the park road.

Cedar Point

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (14)

Cedar Point Views

One of the most amazing views in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is found at Cedar Point. Not only do you get the Painted Wall, but you have the perfect view of the Gunnison River as it continues its journey westwards.

It’s your first view of the last portion of the canyon and it is stunning. The long line of the river framed by the Painted Wall. Seriously, you can’t miss it.

It’s 303 yards to two lookout platforms.

Dragon Point

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (15)

Dragon Point View

There’s not much of a difference in the view at Dragon Point from Cedar Point. The path to the lookout is extremely wide and offers a more dead on angle to the flowing river.

If Cedar Point is crowded, consider stopping at Dragon Point instead. And if you are short on time, this is another overlook you can skip without feeling guilty.

Sunset View

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (16)

Sunset View Overlook

An accessible viewing platform gives you an astounding vantage of the Gunnison River as it makes it way towards the end of the canyon. Standing at Sunset View, the size of the Black Canyon really hits you.

High Point

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (17)

Warner Point Viewpoint

The highest point on the south rim of the Black Canyon is High Point at an elevation of 8,289 feet. It’s also road’s end. From the parking lot, you aren’t going to see much. To get to the view, you need to hike the Warner Point Nature Trail.

This is the furthest walk to a viewpoint on the south rim. It’s 1.4 miles round-trip. Though it is a nature trail, it’s not an easy walk. The trail modulates up and down until the end. But along the way, you have great views of the distant mountain ranges and the surrounding farmlands.

At the end is Warner Point is a view straight down the lower canyon at the Painted Wall. As you sit on the rocks enjoying the view, watch for swallows that woosh in the air around you.

North Rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (18)

North Rim gravel park road

There’s a stark contrast between the south and north rims of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison Park. The north rim is more rugged, more untamed, more natural in feel than the south rim.

Maybe because it’s not as convenient to get to. Or, maybe it’s because the north rim road is gravel (suitable for all vehicles). Even the road to the entrance is partly gravel (from Route 92, it’s 12 miles to the park and the last 6 miles are gravel).

But the views are completely different. Not to mention, the best viewpoint and hiking trail (in my humble opinion) in the entire national park are found on the north rim. If you have the time, you must visit!

If you only do the overlooks on the North Rim Road, plan on spending 1 – 2 hours. And, if you plan on doing some hiking, plan on at least 5 hours.

Facilities are limited on the north rim. There is a ranger station (occasionally staffed) where you pay your entry fee and one small campground. And, there are three toilet facilities available: at the campground, next to the ranger station, and at the end of the park road.

Chasm View Nature Trail

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (19)

View from Chasm Nature Trail

The absolute best vantage point in all of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is found along the Chasm View Nature Trail. Trust me when I say the 2-hour drive to get there is completely worth it!

The Chasm View Nature Trail is an easy 0.3-mile loop trail. But, the glory of this trail comes at the far end when you are overlooking the Chasm. And boy is that view much different (and far superior) from the Chasm View on the south rim.

(Video) East Portal Road in Black Canyon of the Gunnison N.P.

After spending an entire day marveling at the Black Canyon, coming upon this view, my jaw dropped all the way to canyon floor! The mammoth canyon reveals itself. The massive gulf in front of you. And, the river far, far below and the Painted Wall in all its glory is all right there. It takes time to fathom it all.

Once you can finally tear yourself away from the view point, the nature trail continues for a bit along the rim giving you numerous opportunities to marvel at the canyon.

To get to the Chasm View Nature Trail, head towards the campgrounds on the north rim past the ranger station. You can either drive the full campground loop and park right outside the nature trail. Or, you can park in the one-way loop before entering the campgrounds. It’s less than a 3-minute walk down the exit road to the trail head.

The Narrows

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (20)

The Narrows View

The first stop on the North Rim Park Road is the Narrows. This overlook gives you a great view of where the Gunnison River is at its narrowest. And, it also gives you a great opportunity to look straight down!

It’s a short trail to the lookout.

Balanced Rock

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (21)

Balanced Rock Views

With the viewing platform right next to parking, it’s easy to take in Balanced Rock. And it is a very large rock. Though the views are not the greatest at this stop, it is a quick and easy stop.

Big Island

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (22)

Big Island View

Another quick and easy vantage point is Big Island. As you move down the canyon, you can see how the canyon walls begin to change and take different shapes. And, you appreciate more all the free standing rocks that seem only one winter away from crumbling.

Island Peaks

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (23)

Second view at Island Peaks

There’s a proper viewing platform at Island Peaks. Again, views down the canyon greet on your side while the entrance to the Narrows blocks your view on the other side.

After the viewing platform, don’t go right back to your vehicle. Instead, follow the small loop trail. Though there isn’t a proper platform, the view is extraordinary!

Kneeling Camel

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (24)

Kneeling Camel Overlook

There’s no mistaking the rock formation in front of you. It looks just like a kneeling camel. But this overlook is more than just one rock shape. It’s a wonderful view towards the upper canyon.

And the overlook is just off parking, so its very easy to get to.

Hiking Trails on the North Rim of Black Canyon

The north rim features the two longest day hikes in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. And that’s Exclamation Point/Green Mountain Trail and Deadhorse Trail. If you love to hike, you can’t leave without doing at least one of these.

Exclamation Point Trail

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (25)

Early morning light at Exclamation Point

Another jaw-dropping vantage point is found at Exclamation Point which can only be reached by hiking. Here, you look straight down the canyon. And I mean straight down.

I’m not sure which but this viewpoint either got its name from the straight view with you being the exclamation point or from the WOW!!!!! that escapes your lips upon first view.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (26)

Hiking out to Exclamation Point

It’s an easy 3-mile round trip trek that begins to the side of the ranger station. There are very few changes in elevation along the way. But the trail is very narrow for most of the way.

And as phenomenal as Exclamation Point is, there is no railing there. So be careful as you take in the view along the rocks.

Green Mountain Trail

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (27)

View of the canyon from trail to Green Mtn

(Video) Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

If you have the energy, you can continue on the same trail past Exclamation Point up to Green Mountain. Heading up, the trail climbs the entire way to the top gaining 840 feet, reaching an elevation of 8,563 feet.

The trail passes through the forest on the hillside providing shade on sunny days. As you progress, the trail remains narrow. The closer to the top you get, the steeper the switchbacks become.

When you emerge above the tree line, you have a breathtaking view of the Black Canyon in its entirety. It’s for this view that you hike up Green Mountain.

Unfortunately, the view is not so great once you reach the top. There is a small loop to follow, but there isn’t much of a view of anything. The best view is right as you reach the loop behind you. Though, you may have Monarch butterflies flit around you at the top.

The entire hike is 7-miles round trip. Though the climb isn’t steep, going up at that elevation makes it more challenging. So, make sure you have plenty of water and food with you.

Deadhorse Trail

Unfortunately, I did not have time to tackle this 5-mile (round trip) trail. Access is just past the Kneeling Camel View (need to park there). This moderate trail gives you views of Deadhorse Gulch and the East Portal.

Hiking into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Yes, you can hike down into the Black Canyon!

It’s not easy nor are there aren’t any established trails down. So, if you want to hike, you need to be prepared. Before setting off, make sure that you speak to a park ranger about possible routes and what you may encounter (including poison ivy which is rampant on the canyon floor, black bears, deer and porcupines).

And, you need a wilderness permit, which is free, and can be obtained at the visitor center or ranger stations.

Driving into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

If hiking straight down into the canyon isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry. You can always drive down into it!

To get to the floor of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, you just follow the East Portal Road which begins just past the entrance station.

Caution – the road is extremely steep in places (16% grade) with hairpin turns so caution should be taken. Also, vehicles longer than 22 feet are prohibited from accessing the road. And, the road is closed in winter.

Fishing in Gunnison River

If you love to fish, you can do so in the Gunnison River. Near the end of the East Portal Road, there is a primitive trail that take you to the river where one can fish. If you do want to fish, make sure that you have a valid Colorado license.

Pets at the Black Canyon

Yes, pets are allowed within the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. But there are conditions.

Pets must be leashed at all times. And, they not allowed on the longer hiking trails, in the canyon, or in the Wilderness. But they can be taken to the overlooks as well as the shorter Chasm View Nature Trail and Rim Rock Trail.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (28)

Welcome to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Entry to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The entry fee into the Black Canyon is $25 per vehicle, which is valid for seven consecutive days. You can purchase your entry pass at the entrance station or in advance online.

If you are planning to visit the other Colorado national parks like Great Sand Dunes National Park only 4 hours away (or any of the U.S. national parks and monuments) within a year, consider getting the America the Beautiful pass. This gives you free entry to all parks and sites managed by the National Park Service. And, it’s a great money saver!

You can purchase online or at any park entrance station.

Lodging Near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

If you are planning a road trip of Colorado’s national parks or looking for a place near the Black Canyon to spend the night if you are doing both rims, there are several options.

The closest are the three campgrounds within the national park itself. Two are located in the south rim portion and the other on the north rim.

For the south rim, the closet lodging can be found at Montrose, CO (hotels and Airbnbs) just 15 miles away. If you are breaking up your visit to both rims into two days, besides Montrose, there are lodging options at Delta and Hotchkiss, CO, which is closer to the north rim entrance. Further away is the town of Gunnison, 64 miles to the east.

Weather at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park experiences all four seasons in a year. June through August are the hottest months with temperatures between 80 – 106°F. Occasional thunder storms are possible.

The best time to visit is in the shoulder months of April/May and September/October when the crowds will be less and the temperatures very comfortable.

In winter, the national park does receive snow but not in large amounts. Temperatures range from 25 – 45°F.

What to Bring with You

For a day trip to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, make sure you have with you:

Sun Protection – Sun screen is best as it can be very windy along the rim of the Black Canyon. And it’s doubtful that you will want to leave your hat at the bottom of the canyon.

Layers – At a higher elevation, the temperature is going to be cooler than the surrounding area. Also, it’s very windy and the weather can change suddenly. So, bring warm layers with you just in case.

Refreshments – Make sure you have plenty of water with you even if you are not hiking. And bring snacks or a lunch to enjoy during the day.

Was this post helpful? If so, be sure to pin for later!

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (29)Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (30) Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Complete Guide - The Unending Journey (31)

Related

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon OverlooksColorado National ParksGunnison RiverNorth Rim Black CanyonSouth Rim Black Canyon

FAQs

How long does it take to explore Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

Allow 2-3 hours for a leisurely tour. Information is available at the North Rim Ranger Station, open intermittently in summer. The North Rim Road is closed in winter.

Which side of the Black Canyon of Gunnison is better? ›

The South Rim has more services, facilities and overlooks, and provides better views of the Painted Wall. The North Rim is accessed via a gravel road, has no visitor center, but does provide better views into the narrowest part of the canyon.

Is Black Canyon of the Gunnison worth it? ›

Black Canyon of the Gunnison was impressive, and it's definitely worth a stop if you are traveling on Highway 50 through Colorado. You can hit the highlights of this park in as little as 1-2 hours, or stay longer and dig deep. It's uncrowded and low-stress. Stay in Montrose or Gunnison nearby.

How many days do you need at Gunnison National Park? ›

How Many Days Do You Need in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park? If you want to visit both the North and South Rims, you will need two days. On the quickest of visits, you can visit the South Rim in about 4 to 5 hours, simply by driving South Rim Road.

Can you drive to the bottom of the Black Canyon? ›

The East Portal Road travels five steep miles to the bottom of the canyon. You'll find a small campground, picnic area, and primitive trail when you reach the end of the road.

What is the best hike in Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

One of the best Black Canyon of the Gunnison hikes is the Chasm View Nature Trail. At only a third of a mile long, this trail isn't difficult at all, but the views are incredibly rewarding. Many people argue that this trail has the best views that you can get from the North Rim!

Can you swim in Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

Other things to do near Black Canyon of the Gunnison

There's a large lake where you can boat, swim or just dip your feet in. It does require a $9.00 day pass per vehicle to enter.

Is Great Sand Dunes worth seeing? ›

Nearly 4 hours from Denver but well worth the drive. These dunes in the middle of the desert, mountains of sand against the back drop of the mountains are something to see. Hiking up them is a workout but so worth the time.

Is the North Rim of Black Canyon worth it? ›

North Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is well worth the effort. Sure, it is a little off the beaten path, so plan on another day. The North Rim campground is very well maintained. Hiking trails are convenient.

Is the drive to Black Canyon of the Gunnison scary? ›

Some of the deepest areas of this canyon get little more than 30 minutes of sunlight per day, yet visitors can discover an incredible feat of science and nature by exploring this canyon from top to bottom. Once you shake off the shadowy jitters, you'll find it's not scary at all.

Why do people go to Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

On the rim you can explore several easy-going nature trails, all of which offer canyon overlooks. For those who have several days, the park offers adventurous backcountry experiences and developed campsites, fishing on the Gunnison's Gold Medal waters, rock climbing, wildlife watching and more.

What is Gunnison Colorado known for? ›

If you enjoy alpine skiing, ski mountaineering, or snowboarding, Gunnison is the place to be. Western has some of the best winter sport teams in the state.

Is North Rim or South Rim better? ›

Overall, if you want the total Grand Canyon package, it's best to visit both rims. But if you have to choose between the two, I recommend that first-time visitors focus on the South Rim for the numerous overlooks and variety of experiences.

How far is arches from Denver? ›

Arches National Park is 350 miles from Denver.

What time does Black Canyon of the Gunnison open? ›

Spring and Fall Hours (typically October and April to mid-May): Open daily from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. Summer Hours (approx. mid-May through Sept.): Open daily from 8:00 am - 5:00 pm. Closed 12-1 pm for lunch.
...
South Rim Visitor Center.
Christmas DayDecember 25, 2022Closed
HolidayDateHours
10 more rows

Which rim of the Black Canyon is best? ›

1. Drive South Rim Road. Without a doubt, this is the best thing to do on the South Rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Along this relatively short drive, you are treated to spectacular views of the canyon.

What do you wear to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

The park is notorious for its poison ivy, which grows many feet high along the walls of the canyon. If you plan on descending into the canyon, you should wear pants and long sleeves to protect yourself.

How long is East Portal Road in Black Canyon? ›

A paved 5 mile road with the last 3 miles a steep 16% grade.

How long does it take to hike Black Canyon? ›

Length of Time: The average time to do this hike, according to the National Park Service, is 4 to 6 hours. However, if you move fast, you can do it in less time. We did it in 3 hours and 15 minutes, which includes 35 minutes spent down by the river.

How do you hike down the Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

Gunnison Route begins at the South Rim Visitor Center. Follow the Oak Flat Trail for 1/3 mile, down the first few switchbacks. You will come to a sign that says, "Wilderness Permit Required." Continue the steep descent to the chain down the drainage. An 80-foot chain is located 1/3 of the way down.

How old is the Black Canyon? ›

Black Canyon's is a story of deep geologic time, starting back 1.8 billion years ago. The story of Black Canyon can be summed up in three words: grow, blow, and flow. About 60 million years ago, a small area of land uplifted (grow), bringing 1.8 billion year old metamorphic rock to high elevations.

How deep is the Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

What is the best time to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park? ›

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve can be visited year round. The best time to visit is during the spring and fall months, when temperatures are mild. In the winter, it can be very cold here.

Can you kayak Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

Only expert whitewater kayakers should attempt to paddle through the Black Canyon. Expert kayakers find the Gunnison River through the park an arduous challenge. This stretch of the Gunnison is for only the most experienced and well equipped kayakers; rafting is not possible in the canyon.

What shoes should I wear for sand dunes? ›

Sand surface temperatures can reach over 150° F on summer afternoons; plan to hike early morning or evening in summer months to avoid burned feet and potential heat exhaustion. If you must walk on the dunes on a summer afternoon, be sure to take boots or tennis shoes (sandals are not adequate) .

How should I dress for sand dunes? ›

Bring a hat, gloves, wool socks, and a warm jacket for the night year round, because temperatures can drop. For sun and sand protection, pack a sun hat, sun gloves, sunglasses, long-sleeve shirt with UPF sun protection, and a bandana or lightweight face and neck cover like a Buff or Discrete neck buff.

Can you drive through the Great Sand Dunes? ›

Yes. There is a paved path at the visitor center as well. over a year ago. You can see the sand dunes from the highway leading up to it.

Is Gunnison National Park worth visiting? ›

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of Colorado's hidden gems. It gets overlooked because Colorado has so much to offer, but Black Canyon is well worth the visit! In this post you'll learn everything you need to know to enjoy your trip and appreciate this incredible national park.

Do you need a reservation to get into Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park | Gunnison, Colorado. According to mycoloradoparks.com, visitors do not need reservations to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park; however, reservations for the South Rim area are "strongly recommended." An annual pass to the park costs $55.

How long is the Black Canyon? ›

Total Length of Black Canyon:

Total Length: 48 miles (77 km) Length Through Black Canyon National Park: 14 miles (22.5 km)

Can you drive the South Rim trail? ›

Grand Canyon South Rim Scenic Drive: Cameron to Grand Canyon Village. Discover this 55.0-mile point-to-point trail near Cameron, Arizona. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 25 h 41 min to complete.

Why is it called the Black Canyon? ›

The Black Canyon derives its name from its black-stained, lichen-covered walls, which accentuate the gloom of the chasm. Roads on the North and South rims, with overlooks and foot trails, reach about 8,000 feet (2,400 metres) above sea level.

What is Black Canyon City known for? ›

Black Canyon City: Settled in the 1870s, Black Canyon City has served as a stage stop and supply center for prospectors in the Bradshaw Mountains. Jack Swilling, one of the founders of Phoenix, once lived here. His cabin, the oldest building in the area, still stands.

Is Black Canyon closed in the winter? ›

The South Rim Drive is usually open to vehicles from late-April to mid-November. In winter, the South Rim Road is open to Gunnison Point at the visitor center. The remainder of the road is closed to vehicles, but open to cross country skiing and snowshoeing when conditions permit.

What is the coldest temperature ever recorded in Gunnison Colorado? ›

The lowest recorded temperature in Gunnison is -47.0°F (-43.9°C), which was recorded in December. The average amount of precipitation for the year in Gunnison is 10.5" (266.7 mm). The month with the most precipitation on average is July with 1.5" (38.1 mm) of precipitation.

Is it expensive to live in Gunnison Colorado? ›

Gunnison, Colorado's cost of living is 3% higher than the national average.

How cold does it get in Gunnison? ›

Climate and Average Weather Year Round in Gunnison Colorado, United States. In Gunnison, the summers are comfortable and dry, the winters are freezing and snowy, and it is mostly clear year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 0°F to 78°F and is rarely below -13°F or above 85°F.

How can I see the Grand Canyon for free? ›

Located in the South Rim, Mather Point is the first view many visitors get of the Grand Canyon. Travelers can take an easy 5-minute walk from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center to the lookout, which – if you don't mind sifting through some crowds – provides exceptional vistas of the rugged cliffs and trails below.

What is the best month to go to the Grand Canyon? ›

Weather in the Grand Canyon is at its best between April and June, when rainfall averages are low and temperatures have not yet reached their scorching summer highs. The park becomes extremely crowded when school lets out in June, so plan your visit before then, if possible.

Can you drive through arches? ›

Yes, you can drive through Arches National Park and easily see some of the most spectacular scenery. That's what makes it one of the most popular National Parks in the USA. The Scenic Arches Drive is a heavily-trafficked 22-mile paved road with many great viewpoints and spectacular stops along the way.

What is halfway between Denver and Moab? ›

Halfway between Moab, UT and Denver, CO

The best city between Moab, UT and Denver, CO to meet is Glenwood Springs, Colorado which is about 19 miles from the exact midpoint. The town that marks the exact halfway point is actually Silt, Colorado. The closest zip code to the midpoint is 81652.

Is there a shuttle between Denver and Colorado Springs? ›

Groome Transportation also offers private shuttle service to and from the Denver International and Colorado Springs Airports. Our hours of service for phone reservations are daily 5:00am to 12:00 am.

Is Black Canyon worth visiting? ›

Black Canyon of the Gunnison was impressive, and it's definitely worth a stop if you are traveling on Highway 50 through Colorado. You can hit the highlights of this park in as little as 1-2 hours, or stay longer and dig deep. It's uncrowded and low-stress.

How many days do you need in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park? ›

How Many Days Do You Need in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park? If you want to visit both the North and South Rims, you will need two days. On the quickest of visits, you can visit the South Rim in about 4 to 5 hours, simply by driving South Rim Road.

How long does it take to go through Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

Allow 2-3 hours for a leisurely tour. Information is available at the North Rim Ranger Station, open intermittently in summer. The North Rim Road is closed in winter.

How much time do you need at Mesa Verde? ›

How long will it take to see Mesa Verde National Park? Allow at least six hours in Mesa Verde, preferably more – plus driving time to and from the Park. Most visitors want at least an overnight and one full day to sightsee and hike.

How many days do you need at the Great Sand Dunes National Park? ›

Why 3 Days Is the Bare Minimum You Should Stay In and Around Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Is North Rim or South Rim better? ›

Overall, if you want the total Grand Canyon package, it's best to visit both rims. But if you have to choose between the two, I recommend that first-time visitors focus on the South Rim for the numerous overlooks and variety of experiences.

What is the best time to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park? ›

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve can be visited year round. The best time to visit is during the spring and fall months, when temperatures are mild. In the winter, it can be very cold here.

Can you go inside cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde? ›

In the summer, Wetherill Mesa is fully staffed and both cliff dwellings (Step House and Long House) are open. Step House is open for self-guided tours and Long House is open for ranger-guided tours.

Is Mesa Verde worth visiting? ›

The ancestral cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde are some of the best-preserved in all of North America. This on its own makes it a worthwhile visit. But there are also many other unique things to do and see if you're planning a road trip in southern Colorado that will most certainly round out the experience.

Why is Cliff Palace closed? ›

The Cliff Palace tours and loop road are temporarily closed to allow for road construction. The road is being improved, overlooks are being upgraded to accommodate the disabled and a new shade structure will go in at Balcony House. Once complete, the road will reopen and the Cliff Palace tours will resume.

What shoes should I wear for sand dunes? ›

Sand surface temperatures can reach over 150° F on summer afternoons; plan to hike early morning or evening in summer months to avoid burned feet and potential heat exhaustion. If you must walk on the dunes on a summer afternoon, be sure to take boots or tennis shoes (sandals are not adequate) .

What should I wear to the sand dunes? ›

Bring a hat, gloves, wool socks, and a warm jacket for the night year round, because temperatures can drop. For sun and sand protection, pack a sun hat, sun gloves, sunglasses, long-sleeve shirt with UPF sun protection, and a bandana or lightweight face and neck cover like a Buff or Discrete neck buff.

Is Great Sand Dunes worth seeing? ›

Nearly 4 hours from Denver but well worth the drive. These dunes in the middle of the desert, mountains of sand against the back drop of the mountains are something to see. Hiking up them is a workout but so worth the time.

How can I see the Grand Canyon for free? ›

Located in the South Rim, Mather Point is the first view many visitors get of the Grand Canyon. Travelers can take an easy 5-minute walk from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center to the lookout, which – if you don't mind sifting through some crowds – provides exceptional vistas of the rugged cliffs and trails below.

What is the best month to go to the Grand Canyon? ›

Weather in the Grand Canyon is at its best between April and June, when rainfall averages are low and temperatures have not yet reached their scorching summer highs. The park becomes extremely crowded when school lets out in June, so plan your visit before then, if possible.

Is Great Sand Dunes too hot in July? ›

Great Sand Dunes Weather

So it can still be chilly for camping. Average July temperatures are 80 degrees during the day and 50 degrees at night.

How hot does the sand get at Great Sand Dunes? ›

Sand temperatures may soar to 150 degrees F; always plan your dunes time for early morning or evening to avoid burned feet, heat exhaustion, or fatal lightning strikes.

Videos

1. Colorado Scenic Tour | Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park | 4K 60fps
(A Glimpse of the Journey)
2. BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK | Moody & Gorgeous South Rim | Deepest Canyon in Colorado
(Jeanie Marie)
3. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park - South Rim - Montrose/Black Canyon KOA, Colorado
(Elementary Explorers)
4. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, USA [Amazing Places 4K]
(Amazing Places on Our Planet)
5. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
(GoTraveler)
6. Best Places To Visit in Colorado 2022 | Things to Do & See
(Only411 Destinations)

Top Articles

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Edwin Metz

Last Updated: 12/09/2022

Views: 6222

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (78 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Edwin Metz

Birthday: 1997-04-16

Address: 51593 Leanne Light, Kuphalmouth, DE 50012-5183

Phone: +639107620957

Job: Corporate Banking Technician

Hobby: Reading, scrapbook, role-playing games, Fishing, Fishing, Scuba diving, Beekeeping

Introduction: My name is Edwin Metz, I am a fair, energetic, helpful, brave, outstanding, nice, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.