Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of the most stunning natural wonders in the United States. This national park offers dramatic steep cliffs that drop straight down into the Gunnison River!
Yet this national park is one of the lesser visited parks in the US. Black Canyon of the Gunnison has only 300,000 visitors annually. These numbers are a big contrast to the 12 million people who visit the Great Smoky Mountains each year.
Why don’t more people come to see this canyon?
One reason is likely its location. Black Canyon of the Gunnison is in western Colorado and about a 5-hour drive from Denver. (But it is a lovely drive!)
The nearest town for lodging and dining is Montrose. We stayed here on a 5-day Colorado vacation. We used it as a base to explore not only Black Canyon but Telluride and Ouray.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Montrose.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison – What to Expect
The canyon’s sheer size is the first thing you’ll notice when you arrive at the park. It is breathtaking!
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is over 2,000 feet deep and is over a mile wide at its widest point. The canyon walls are made of black granite and are so steep that sunlight only reaches the bottom for a few minutes each day.
Guests can peer into the canyon from the North Rim and the South Canyon.
The North Rim is the least visited side of the canyon. Part of the road is unpaved. It has 5 canyon overlooks.
Most people visit the South Rim. Here you can get more information about the park at the South Rim Visitor Center.
One of the best ways to experience the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is by taking a scenic drive along the South Rim Road. This 7-mile road offers stunning canyon views, with 12 overlooks where you can stop and take in the scenery.
Visitors who want to go down to the Gunnison River for fishing or sightseeing can do so via the East Portal Road or Cimarron. East Portal Road is very steep and curvy.
Winter weather conditions can impact road accessibility, so check the park’s website before visiting in the cooler months.
If you’re planning a trip to Black Canyon of the Gunnison, be sure to pack plenty of water, snacks, and a picnic, as there are limited services in the park.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a spectacular place to visit. It is well worth the extra effort to get here, and it is nice not to have to fight for a place to park once you arrive. Maybe it is better if we keep this gem a secret!
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