From hiking and camping to kayaking and climbing, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park offers plenty of outdoor fun for the whole family. Whether you’re traveling solo or you’ve got a brood of mini-adventurers in tow, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more thrilling getaway.
Less than half an hour from Montrose, Black Canyon National Park has over five hiking trails, ranging from moderate one mile walks through juniper forests, to more strenuous uphill climbs that reward dedicated trekkers with breathtaking views of the inner canyon.
For the ultra-athlete in the group, more challenging hiking opportunities along unmarked and unmaintained trails lead to the inner canyon. Endurance enthusiasts can also enjoy rock climbing and kayaking at the park. Just be forewarned: with vertical climbs of over 1,000 feet and Class V rapids, don’t attempt rock climbing or river running unless you’re a seasoned expert.
Travelers who prefer to appreciate nature without the exertion need not fret. With three different routers for scenic drives, visitors can access fishing, camping, and picnic areas as well as stunning views from six overlooks, all from the comfort of the car.
If you’re traveling with young children, there’s plenty at the park for even the tiniest of tots to enjoy. No matter what time of year you visit, Black Canyon National Park has some of the greatest wildlife viewing opportunities in the country. Kids and adults alike will be thrilled by the abundance of animals in their natural habitat, from the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and the mischievous rock squirrels, to the delicate spotted fawns of early summer. Little ones with a hunger for even more fun can stop by the South Rim Visitor Center and pick up a copy of their very own Junior Ranger Book, filled with educational ideas for kid-friendly park activities.
If you decide to visit during the off-season, you’re in luck. Despite this quieter time of year, there are tons of events for winter sports enthusiasts to enjoy. On weekends from January through March, park rangers accompany groups of all ages on short snowshoe walks through forests and along the canyon rim. Other ranger-led events include winter survival courses, sky viewing with the Black Canyon Astronomy Society, and cross country skiing under the moonlight.
Whether you’re yearning for a bout of technical kayaking or just a relaxing walk along the North Rim, the best way to enjoy Black Canyon National Park is with a carefully planned visit. Depending on the time of year you’re traveling, there may be fees, passes, and other information necessary for your trip, so be sure that you’re well informed before you embark on your adventure. The best way to stay on top of the important details is to check the Black Canyon of the Gunnison visitor planning page, where you’ll find information about park fees, permits, and designated days for free visits. You’ll also find detailed directions, climate information, and important safety information. Remember to check the park news page for updates on conditions and closures for the roads and campgrounds.
Black Canyon National Park, Crawford, CO 81415. Tel: (970) 641-2337.