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Housing over 30,000 acres of Colorado scenery, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park preserves the canyon created by two million years of the Gunnison River. The park sees over 100,000 visitors each year.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison is located roughly 15 miles east of Montrose in southwestern Colorado – just north of the San Juan Mountains.
Park hours mostly vary by season, with the South Rim Visitor Center open year round, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Likewise, the North Rim Ranger Station is open intermittently throughout the summer.
The park features three entrances: the South Rim, North Rim, and East Portal. The South Rim Road the only entrance open year-round.
The primary attraction at Black Canyon is the deep and narrow canyon, created by the flowing waters of Gunnison River. The park houses 12 miles of the Gunnison River, creating aquatic recreation activities like kayaking, fishing, and rafting found via the East Portal Road.
The park presents plenty of hiking trails as well – moderate trails like the Rim Rock and Warner Point Nature Trails explore the areas around the South Rim Visitor Center while the Chasm View Trail and North Vista Trail meander around the North Rim. Trail maps are available at each of the visitor center.
If the weather isn’t cooperating, or you simply are up for a hike, the dazzling scenery of Black Canyon is still visible with one of the scenic drives. Stop by one of the 12 overlooks along South Rim Road, view the almost vertical canyon walls on North Rim Road, or reach the Gunnison River via the winding, ascending East Portal Road.
For the more experienced and skilled adventurers, climbing the canyon’s Painted Wall, or North and South Chasm Walls is a breath-taking thrill. Likewise, seasoned hikers can make their way into the inner canyon, where no maintained or marked trails are present.
However, for both seasoned travelers and novice explorers, we’d recommend stopping at a Black Canyon Visitor Center before embarking. There, you’ll find park maps, activity guides, and much more.