One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: A Hidden Gem in Colorado - Homeroom Travel (2022)

(Last Updated On: April 6, 2022)

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is definitely one of the lesser-known National Parks. Located in Western Colorado near the town of Montrose, it is a trek to get to this park. Spending one day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is plenty of time to explore one of the rims of the park. It is divided into two parts: The North Rim and the South Rim. The more visited area and easiest to get to is the South Rim.

One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: A Hidden Gem in Colorado - Homeroom Travel (1)

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Table of Contents

History of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The Ute Indians lived in the area prior to the arrival of Europeans. They tended to avoid the canyon due to their superstitions. Throughout the 1800s various explorers passed through the area. The first official account of the canyon was by Captain John Gunnison.

By 1881, the railroad reached Denver, thus more people began to migrate to the area. In 1882, the first train passed through the canyon. Over the next hundred years, the railroad expanded through the area. On March 2, 1933, the canyon became a National Monument, and then on October 21, 1999, it officially became the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Best Time To Visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Although you can visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park any time of the year, you are better off visiting in warm weather. In the wintertime, the majority of the park is closed and you cannot access all of the sections. However, in the wintertime, you are able to snowshoe or cross country ski.

One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: A Hidden Gem in Colorado - Homeroom Travel (2)

How to Get to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The closest city to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is Montrose. Montrose has a small airport served by US airlines. You can also opt to fly into Moab, Utah, which has a few more flight options than Montrose. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a 5 hours drive from Denver and a 5 hour and 40-minute drive from Salt Lake City.

(Video) The Steepest Canyon in North America! (Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado)

From the Montrose Airport, take the 50-E to 347-N. It will take you about 20 minutes to get to the park.

From Moab, take the 70-E to the 50-E. Then hop on the 347-N. This will take about 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Transportation Around Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

To get around during one day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, you will need a car. There are no other transportation options within the park.

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Hours and Admission

It costs $20 to get into the park or free with the America the Beautiful Pass. The park is open all year long, but park access is limited in the wintertime.

Where to Stay in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The closest town to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is Montrose. We opted to stay at the Hampton Inn Montrose. This was only 20 minutes from the park and conveniently located to the rest of town.

There is no lodging in the park, but there are three campgrounds. You can make reservations for them online.

What to do During One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Day 1: South Rim

The South Rim is the most visited area of the park and contains the most things to do. Note that in the wintertime, the road is closed from Gunnison Point to High Point. However, the road is still open for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and hiking.

Gunnison Point

One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: A Hidden Gem in Colorado - Homeroom Travel (4)

Distance: 100 yards

Gunnison Point is the first chance for you to glimpse the Black Canyon. If you head to the back of the Visitor’s Center, this viewpoint is just a few yards from there. This is a great way to see the canyon if you do not want a long hike.

Oak Flat Trail

One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: A Hidden Gem in Colorado - Homeroom Travel (5)
One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: A Hidden Gem in Colorado - Homeroom Travel (6)
(Video) Our MOST SURPRISING day in Colorado! | Black Canyon of the Gunnison + Box Canyon, Ouray

Distance: 2 miles

The Oak Flat Trail is one of the best trails to complete during one day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It goes along the rim of the canyon and is considered a strenuous trail. There are several steep slopes and narrow ledges so do not hike this if you have a fear of heights. Due to the snow on the trail, I could not make it through the entire hike due to how slippery it was.

Uplands Trail

One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: A Hidden Gem in Colorado - Homeroom Travel (7)

Distance: 2 miles

The Uplands Trail is a pretty easy trail that is good for seeing wildlife. It is a good trail if you do not want a strenuous hike or hike along the canyon edge. Note that this trail does not have any views of the Canyon.

Rim Rock Trail

Distance: 1 mile

The Rim Rock Nature Trail is a good alternative to the Oak Flat Trail if that one is too difficult for you. It also goes along the canyon edge and offers impressive views. It is a good hike to take during one day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

South Rim Road

One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: A Hidden Gem in Colorado - Homeroom Travel (8)
(Video) Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Fast Facts

The South Rim Road goes for 7 miles along the canyon edge. Along the way are 12 viewpoints you can choose to stop at. Some you can just hop out of the car for the view. Others, you may need to hike a short distance to get to the viewpoint. Plan to spend 2-3 hours if you plan on stopping at all of the viewpoints.

Note that in the wintertime, the majority of this road is closed. You can opt to hike it, snowshoe or cross country ski it instead.

The South Rim Road starts at Gunnison Point (see above information). The following are the 11 other stops along the way and some information about each of them. We opted to hike out all the way to the Devils Lookout.

One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: A Hidden Gem in Colorado - Homeroom Travel (9)
Pulpit Rock Overlook

A short loop trail takes you to a canyon overlook.

Cross Fissures View

Requires a very short walk from the parking area to see views of the canyon.

Rock Point

A bit longer of a walk from the parking area to this viewpoint.

Devils Lookout

A slightly longer walk than Rock Point to the viewpoint.

Chasm View

Here you can get out of your car and walk right to the viewpoint.

Painted Wall View

The Painted Wall View you can also get right out of your car and walk to the viewpoint.

Cedar Point

Cedar Point requires about as long of a walk as the Cross Fissures View.

Dragon Point

Dragon Point is about as long as the walk to the Rock Point lookout.

(Video) Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Sunset Point

Here you can get out of your car and walk right to the viewpoint.

High Point

At High point, you can get out of your car and walk right to the viewpoint.

Warner Point

Distance: 1.5 miles round trip

The Warner Point Trail should also be done when spending one day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It is located at the end of the South Rim Drive at High Point. Along the way, you might encounter some animals as well as views of the canyon and river.

One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: A Hidden Gem in Colorado - Homeroom Travel (10)

Spending One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in the Wintertime

If you visit in the winter season, make sure to have the correct shoes for hiking. Spike or crampons work best for hiking in the snow. I was totally not thinking about this when visiting in March, so we were met with a few obstacles.

Also, if you visit in the wintertime, you can opt to rent cross-country skis or snowshoes. I found this place in Montrose that has some pretty affordable rentals. The main road (South Rim Road) of the park turns into a cross-country ski area during the wintertime.

Note that the North Rim is not open in the wintertime, so make sure to check the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park website for the most up-to-date information on both rims.

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More Than One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Day 2: North Rim

The North Rim does not have as many hiking trails as the South Rim, but it does have quite a few viewpoints. These are some of the popular options.

  • Chasm View
  • The Narrows View
  • Balanced Rock View
  • Big Island View
  • Islands Beaks View
  • Kneeling Camel View
  • North Vista Trail/Exclamation Point
  • Deadhorse Trail

Final Thoughts on One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

If you are looking for a place to chill after hiking, the Horsefly Brewing Company was a fun place to grab a beer. Across the street from them was Phelanies, a speakeasy you can grab a drink at. For dinner, head to Fiesta Guadalajara for some delicious Mexican food.

If you have time, add one day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park onto a Colorado or Utah trip. It pairs well with a visit to Moab which is home to Arches and Canyonlands, Denver, or Rocky Mountain National Park.

(Video) S1:E25 Colorful Colorado P1: Black Canyon

One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: A Hidden Gem in Colorado - Homeroom Travel (12)
One Day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: A Hidden Gem in Colorado - Homeroom Travel (13)

FAQs

Can you do Black Canyon of the Gunnison in one day? ›

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.

Is Black Canyon of the Gunnison worth it? ›

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!

How long should I spend at 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.

Is North Rim or South Rim better Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

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.

Do you need a permit to hike rim to rim in one day? ›

There is no permit needed to hike from Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon, as long as you are only going to be in the park for a day. If you plan to do this hike over two days and are going to be staying at the South Rim Lodge, Grand Canyon Lodge, or Phantom Ranch, you will not need a permit either.

How much does it cost to get into the Black Canyon? ›

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park normally charges $20 per vehicle, $15 per motorcycle and $10 per pedestrian or bicycle. Entrance fees are good for seven days. The entrance fee waiver for the fee-free days does not cover user fees for camping.

Which rim is best Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

A deep and narrow chasm splits Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park into two breathtaking destinations: the North Rim and the South Rim. The South Rim is the most popular. It's the easiest to access, has the most scenic viewpoints, and is located the closest to nearby restaurants and hotels.

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.

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.

Is the North Rim of Black Canyon worth it? ›

Because there is no bridge over the canyon, accessing the North Rim requires a bit of a drive. You'll need to allow two to three hours' drive time from one rim to the other—but it's entirely worth it. Not only are there far fewer people, but the views from the North Rim are also more dramatic, if that's even possible.

What is the Black Canyon famous for? ›

Fishing enthusiasts should add the Black Canyon to the list of great fishing in the Gunnison Valley. With gold medal waters stretching for 12 miles within the park, this is one of the best stretches of trout fishing in the state of Colorado.

Can you swim in Black Canyon? ›

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 the North Rim or South Rim better to visit? ›

But those who have seen the canyon from both sides tend to agree that the North Rim is the nicer side of the Grand Canyon, in several senses of the word – calmer, quieter, and reminiscent of what the National Parks may have been like in years past.

How long to drive to North Rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

How to Get to the North Rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Even though the canyon is only 1,100 feet in the narrowest section, it takes about two hours to drive from the South Rim to the North Rim.

Why is the South Rim better than the West Rim? ›

There is a good reason people flock to the South Rim; it's actually part of Grand Canyon National Park; it's stunningly beautiful; it's more developed by way of visitors centers and services; there's more lodging nearby; you can hike, backpack and camp; it's easier to access and is more centrally located for Arizona ...

How hard is Rim to Rim in one day? ›

Long distance thru-hikers typically average between 10-15 miles a day. Hiking more than that is totally doable but not necessarily the most fun or painless. Hiking Rim to Rim in one day means hiking at least 21 miles. If the pain hasn't already kicked in by mile 15, it's very likely it will at mile 16.

How long is the Rim Walk? ›

The Rim Walk will take you on a 6 kilometre circuit transcending down into the Garden of Eden and back to the top to wonder at the 360 views. Depending on what pace you take to absorb the humbling scenery, the walk can take around 3-4 hours.

How difficult is the scenic rim walk? ›

The Scenic Rim Trail is rough, steep and difficult to traverse. Although classified as a Grade 5 track overall, there are some sections of easier, well-formed walking tracks and management trails. Be aware of what to expect and how to deal with the conditions.

Do you need a reservation to enter 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.

Is Black Canyon of the Gunnison crowded? ›

The 9 Best Black Canyon of the Gunnison Hiking Trails for Avoiding People. In the ranking of America's most popular national parks, Colorado's Black Canyon of the Gunnison falls toward the bottom. In 2021 it ranked 48th of 63 parks with 308,910 total visitors.

What time does Black Canyon of the Gunnison open? ›

Location: 7 miles north on CO Highway 347 from the intersection with U.S. Highway 50. Winter Hours (approx. October to May): Open daily from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm. Closed 12:00-12:30 pm for lunch.

Are there bears in Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

It is unlikely that you will see a black bear and even less likely a mountain lion.

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.

What makes Black Canyon of the Gunnison special? ›

Deep, Steep and Narrow. Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America.

Which is deeper Black Canyon or Grand Canyon? ›

Depth (feet) of the Black Canyon at Warner Point. That's impressive, but not by comparison to the true monsters. Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in North America, is 7,913 feet deep at Hedevil Point (on the Idaho side). The Grand Canyon averages about 5,000 feet deep.

What town is closest to Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is divided into two areas: the more popular South Rim and the less developed North Rim. The two areas are a two hour drive apart. The closest town to the South Rim is Montrose, Colo.

Can you drive through the South Rim? ›

Most visitors drive to Grand Canyon's South Rim. Open year-round, it's the most famous and popular part of the national park. No matter how you drive to the South Rim, there are plenty of great sights along the way. (Detailed route descriptions below.)

What is the closest city to Black Canyon? ›

Towns & Cities Near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  • Montrose, CO. 19.9 mi / 36 mins.
  • Delta, CO. 41.1 mi / 58 mins.
  • Ouray, CO. 55.2 mi / 1 hour 17 mins.
  • Gunnison, CO. 68.8 mi / 1 hour 30 mins.
  • Crawford, CO. 69.9 mi / 1 hour 33 mins.
  • Telluride, CO. 84.5 mi / 1 hour 55 mins.
  • Mt Crested Butte, CO. 99.9 mi / 2 hours 11 mins.

How deep is the water at the Black Canyon? ›

This tour can include the optional deep water solo climb against a cliff that overhangs above a large 80-foot deep pool of water.

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.

Which side of the Grand Canyon is less touristy? ›

The North Rim sees, by far, the least number of Grand Canyon tourists (only 10% of all park visitors). Since it's more difficult to get to and less well-known, many visitors to the park simply skip the North Rim, heading straight for the South Rim instead.

How long is the North Rim Scenic Drive? ›

How long does the North Rim Parkway take to drive? This 43-mile drive should take you an hour to drive, but you may want to allow a longer time so you can stop to hike the numerous trails available along the way.

Which rim is the best view of Grand Canyon? ›

1. Mather Point, South Rim. If you're headed to the park's South Main Entrance on the South Rim for the first time, Mather Point is usually the go-to iconic viewpoint. It's a great introduction to the immensity of the Grand Canyon.

What is the deepest canyon in America? ›

Hells Canyon, Idaho and Oregon

This is the deepest canyon in North America, the canyon is 8,043 feet (2,452 meters) deep.

Who is the owner of Black Canyon? ›

Black Canyon Restaurant originates from Thailand where they have over 200 outlets throughout Thailand and also outlets in other Southeast Asian countries. In the year 2002, our Managing Director Mr. Ng Kok Yong bought over the master franchise from Thailand to introduce the business concept to Malaysia.

What is Gunnison Colorado known for? ›

1. Hiking and Camping. Colorado is known for having some of the best hiking and camping spots, and Gunnison is home to several must-see outdoor spaces. In fact, there are over 750 miles of singletrack trails surrounding the Western campus.

Does Black Star Canyon have a waterfall? ›

Hiking the Black Star Canyon trail is a local favorite for a reason. The trail follows Black Star Creek to Black Star Canyon Falls, and there's a haunted history to ponder as you hike through this beautiful part of Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park.

Where can I find Emerald Cove? ›

The only way to get to Emerald Cove is by boat, either through kayaking, canoeing, SUPing or your own motorized boat. It is only 2 miles from Willow Beach shore, and if you only wanted to do Emerald Cove you could easily do the trip in 1.5-2 hours.

What animals are in Black Canyon? ›

Other wildlife you may see while kayaking through Black Canyon include desert bighorn sheep, mountain lions, bats, rabbits, coyotes, and beavers.

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 city is closest to the North Rim? ›

The entrance to the North Rim is located 30 miles south of Jacob Lake, AZ on Highway 67 (the actual rim of Grand Canyon is an additional 14 miles south of the park entrance). Jacob Lake, AZ is located in Northern Arizona on Highway 89A, not far from the Utah border.

Is Black Canyon of the Gunnison worth visiting? ›

Black Canyon of the Gunnison is deep, steep, and narrow. The views from the top are pretty impressive and this small park is worthwhile even if you only have a short time to visit.

Is Gunnison Colorado worth visiting? ›

Dramatic cliffs, deep canyons, and the roaring rapids of the Gunnison River make for one of the most spectacular scenes in all of Colorado. While the most popular time to visit this national park is in the summer, there are plenty of reasons to visit during the winter.

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.

How much do you tip a tour guide at the Grand Canyon? ›

Full day/half day tour: Tip your guide 10-20% based on the cost of the tour. Independent guides: If you're hunting, fishing, or taking a guided tour of the Grand Canyon, 10-20% based on the cost of the tour.

Can you see the West Rim for free? ›

DO I HAVE TO PURCHASE A GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET? Every visitor to Grand Canyon West is required to purchase a General Admission ticket. Optional activities, such as Skywalk, helicopter, boat tours and zipline tours can be purchased at an additional cost. Explore ticket options, including bundled savings opportunities.

Can you see the South Rim in one day? ›

As already mentioned, you can see the main highlights of Grand Canyon's South Rim in just one day, but you can also spend a week at the Grand Canyon and still not see everything. So how much time you need will depend on what you absolutely want to see and whether you are planning to do any hiking.

How long is Black Magic canyon? ›

Try this 1.5-mile out-and-back trail near Shoshone, Idaho. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 28 min to complete. This trail is great for hiking, and it's unlikely you'll encounter many other people while exploring.

How hard is rim to rim in one day? ›

Long distance thru-hikers typically average between 10-15 miles a day. Hiking more than that is totally doable but not necessarily the most fun or painless. Hiking Rim to Rim in one day means hiking at least 21 miles. If the pain hasn't already kicked in by mile 15, it's very likely it will at mile 16.

Does Black Star Canyon have mountain lions? ›

Due to its central location, Black Star Canyon acts as a wildlife corridor for larger animals like bobcats, mountain lions, and deer.

Which RIM is best Black Canyon of the Gunnison? ›

A deep and narrow chasm splits Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park into two breathtaking destinations: the North Rim and the South Rim. The South Rim is the most popular. It's the easiest to access, has the most scenic viewpoints, and is located the closest to nearby restaurants and hotels.

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