15 Best Things to Do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
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The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a United States National Monument located in Colorado.

The Gunnison River carved out the canyon; the river still runs through it today.

The canyon is about 50 miles long, and its deepest point is more than 2,700 feet below the earth's surface.

There are many things to do at this park, from hiking and biking to fishing and picnicking.

Here are 15 of the best things to do in the Black Canyon of Gunnison, CO:

Pay a Visit to The Gunnison River

Aerial view of the Gunnison River
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The Gunnison River is a tributary of the Colorado River, and it's notable for a few reasons.

For starters, it's one of the most scenic rivers in the country, and its course through the Rockies makes for some stunning landscapes.

It's also a popular destination for whitewater rafting and kayaking.

But what makes the Gunnison River special is its status as a blue-ribbon trout stream.

Daytime view of the Gunnison River
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The Gunnison hosts some of the best trout fishing in the country, attracting many anglers.

The Gunnison River is unique because it is one of the most diverse rivers in the United States.

It has a wide variety of fish, including brown trout, rainbow trout, and mountain whitefish.

The Gunnison River is also home to the endangered greenback cutthroat trout.

The Gunnison River is a popular destination for whitewater rafting and kayaking.

The river has many Class III and IV rapids, making it a challenging and exciting adventure.

The rapids of the Gunnison River
James St. John, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Welcome sign of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
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The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a United States Park located in Colorado.

On October 21, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the park =as a national monument.

Then, President Bill Clinton redesignated it as a national park on September 26, 1999.

The National Park Service manages it.

A hiker at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Geir Olav Lyngfjell / Shutterstock.com

The park is named for its characteristic black cliffs caused by the presence of iron oxides.

The Gunnison River descends nearly 2,000 feet (610 m) in 26 miles (42 km).

The Black Canyon is so named because its steep walls and dark color give it a "black" appearance from a distance.

The Gunnison River flows through the canyon, dividing it into two parts: the narrow North Rim and the wider South Rim.

Aerial view of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park's rims
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Hike along Area Trails

A hiker standing at the peak on one of black canyon's trail
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The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park offers some of the best hiking trails in the area.

The park is known for its steep and narrow canyons and its stunning views.

Some of the most popular trails include the Chasm View, the North Rim, and the South Rim trails.

The Chasm View Trail is a short easy trail that leads to a viewpoint overlooking the chasm.

The North Rim Trail is a moderately challenging trail that leads to the park's highest point.

Trees along North rim trail
Keith J Finks / Shutterstock.com

The South Rim Trail is a strenuous trail that leads to the canyon's deepest point.

There are more than 50 miles of trails to explore, ranging from easy to strenuous.

What makes the Black Canyon so special is its unique geology.

The Gunnison River carved out the canyon, flowing through a narrow and steep-walled gorge.

The river is fast and turbulent, and the canyon is deep and dark.

View from the warner point trail
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Explore Riding Trails on Horseback

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a beautiful and unique place that offers horseback riding trails for visitors.

It preserves and protects a canyon of the Gunnison River, one of the deepest and most rugged in North America.

The park contains 12 miles (19 km) of horseback riding trails.

This place is unique because it is home to some of the most dramatic cliffs in the United States.

The park also offers excellent opportunities for camping, fishing, and hiking.

Try Fly-Fishing in the Gunnison River

A person Fly fishing at Gunnison river
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The Gunnison River is a tributary of the Colorado River, and it is famous for its fly fishing.

The Gunnison River was established in the early 1800s.

The river has a wide variety of fish, including brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout.

The Gunnison River is also known for its beautiful scenery, and it is a popular destination for tourists and anglers.

The Gunnison River drops an average of 34 feet (10 m) per mile (5.6 m/km), making the Black Canyon the deepest canyon in North America.

Go Rafting on the Gunnison River

The Gunnison River originates in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, on the west side of the Continental Divide, in Lake County.

The Gunnison River is long, and its drainage basin is large.

The Gunnison River basin includes much of western Colorado and parts of eastern Utah.

The Gunnison is a popular destination for whitewater rafting.

It is a blue ribbon stream that offers some of the best rafting in Colorado.

The Gunnison River offers something for everyone, from easy family floats to heart-pounding Class IV rapids.

There are sections of the river for all experience levels, and the scenery is simply beautiful.

If you're looking for an adventure, consider rafting the Gunnison River.

You won't be disappointed!

Learn How to Get to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The road to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
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The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a beautiful and underrated National Park in Colorado.

It can be a little tricky to get to, but it's worth it!

There are a few different ways to get to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

The first way is to take Interstate 70 to Highway 50.

You will then take Highway 347 to the park. The drive will take about three hours.

Another option is to take I-25 to Highway 24.

You will then take Highway 87 to the park. This route will take about four hours.

The last way is to take US Highway 6 and Colorado Highway 92.

This route will also take about four hours.

Enjoy a Picnic in the Park

Picnic tables overlooking the black canyon
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Pack a basket with your favorite food and drinks and head to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park for a picnic lunch.

There are plenty of picnic tables throughout the park, so find the perfect spot and enjoy a relaxing meal outdoors.

This park is a great way to save money, but it's also a great way to get outside and enjoy nature.

Plus, picnics are a perfect opportunity to bond with friends or family.

If you're looking for a scenic and serene spot, consider visiting the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

View the Canyon from the Rim Rock Trail

Scenic view from the Rim Rock Trail
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The Rim Rock Trail offers hikers beautiful canyon views.

It is one of the most popular trails in the park.

It's a relatively easy trail with only a few steep sections, suitable for hikers and cyclists of all ages.

It's an excellent hike for families and offers various views of the canyon.

The trailhead is located just south of the Grand Canyon Village, and it's open all year round.

Visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The Black Canyon of Gunnison Park is open all year long, but the best time to visit depends on what you want to do.

If you want to go hiking and explore the park, the best time is from April to October, when the weather is milder.

If you're more interested in sightseeing and taking pictures, the park is beautiful year-round!

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park was jointly designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on June 24, 2000.

The National Park Service manages it.

The park has a 12-mile (19 km) stretch of Black Canyon of the Gunnison River.

Visit the Painted Wall

Scenic view of the Painted Wall
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The Painted Wall is a magnificent sight located in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

It's one of the world's great cliff walls, stretching for 2 miles and towering more than 2,000 feet above the Gunnison River.

It is one of the most photographed spots in the park and is known for its colorful and intricate swirls and patterns.

The wall was named for its resemblance to a painting.

Closer details of the Painted Wall
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The best time to visit the Painted Wall is during the fall when the leaves are changing color, and the wall is at its most colorful.

The park is open all year round, but the road to the Painted Wall is only available from May to October.

The Painted Wall gets its name from the layers of shale and sandstone stained with the colors of the rainbow over time.

The wall can be seen from many different vantage points in the park, but the best way to experience it is to hike to the bottom of the canyon and look up.

Daytime view of the Painted Wall
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Book a Stay Near the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

If you're looking for a place to stay near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, here are some great options!

The Best Western Plus Canyon Inn & Suites is right in the heart of Montrose, Colorado, a few miles from the park.

This hotel offers comfortable rooms, a complimentary breakfast every morning, and an indoor pool and hot tub for relaxation.

Another great option is the Black Canyon Motel.

This motel is on Highway 92, which leads right to the national park.

If you're looking for a more rustic experience, try camping at nearby campgrounds.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has two campgrounds - the Chukar Creek Campground and the South Rim.

Take a Nature Hike

A hiker at the peak of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
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The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a stunning and underrated nature destination.

The park is in western Colorado and boasts some of the most dramatic and sheer cliffs in the state.

A trail lined with trees at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
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The Gunnison River carved out the canyon over millions of years, and the views are simply breathtaking.

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure that’s not as crowded as other Colorado parks, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a great option.

There are plenty of hikes to choose from, and the park offers ranger-led tours throughout the summer.

Go Camping Near the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Camping near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is an incredibly unique experience.

The park is home to some of the most rugged and untouched landscapes.

The camping itself is rustic and offers stunning views of the canyon and its surrounding peaks.

The park can be pretty busy during the summer months, so it's best to reserve a campsite well in advance.

Several backcountry camping options are available, which offer a more solitary experience.

Regardless of where you camp, take advantage of the park's many hiking trails and viewpoints.

Final Thoughts

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a must-see for anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

With its stunning scenery and diverse wildlife, the park offers something for everyone.

Whether you're a hiker, camper, or nature enthusiast, add the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to your travel bucket list!