Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park comprises of 12 out of the 48 mile-long canyon of the Gunnison River. You can take it as easy and drive up to dizzying overlooks or challenge yourself to your heart’s content during your visit.
The South Rim is the most established part of the park with plenty of pullouts and short hikes. For those who want more adventure can enter the wilderness (anything below the rim) to hike, rock climb, fish, or even kayak. We loved that this park wasn’t overly crowded and there was plenty to see and do. We can’t wait to go back during the summer and try climbing here.
9 THINGS YOU CAN’T MISS AT THE BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
1. Stop by the South Rim Visitor Center
You can check out the exhibits and chat with the rangers to figure out your best plan of action for the day! Even when we’ve previously visited a park, we still like to stop by and see what’s new. During our trip here, we were told that the blue grouse was hanging out by the campgrounds and that birders from all over the world were coming here to see them. Who knew!
2. Drive Along the South Rim Road
This 7-mile drive has 12 overlooks to test your fear of heights. A lot of the overlooks do require walking a short trail but nothing difficult. If you’re limited on time, be sure to check out Pulpit Rock, Painted Wall, and Sunset View.
3. Explore the Inner Canyon
There is a lot to do within the canyon but there are no maintained or marked trails, so routes can be difficult to follow. Keep in mind that you do need a wilderness use permit for any activities in the inner canyon.
4. Drive to the River via the East Portal Road
The East Portal Road gives you access to the river. Keep in mind that it is extremely steep (16% grades) with hairpin turns. They don’t allow vehicles over 22 ft, and our Airstream would not have fared well here. Don’t forget to check to see if it’s open, since they close the road during winter.