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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

A view of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

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In western Colorado, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park consists of 12 miles of the deep Black Canyon created by the Gunnison River. Designated as a national park in 1999, it is one of the country’s newest national parks, yet contains some of the oldest exposed rock in North America. The rugged terrain includes cliffs, the canyon, and river, making it a great destination for hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, or fishing.

Weather at the park is considered somewhat mild, with highs around 91 degrees Fahrenheit in July and lows around 18 degrees in January. Spring starts out chilly, with temperatures in the high 50s gradually warming up to the mid-70s by May. Summers can be hot, with average highs between 86 and 91 degrees. During the fall, the weather cools off and the daily high temperature drops to the mid-50s by November. In the winter, when some roads and trails become used for skiing and snowshoeing, temperatures range from as low as 18 degrees to as warm as 48 degrees in February.

The closest well-known town to Black Canyon of the Gunnison is Telluride, which is about 80 miles and a 1 hour, 40 minute drive away. But nearby, you’ll find a handful of other small towns, including Gunnison, Delta, Cimarron, and Montrose.

During the warmer months, park rangers lead guided walks on topics ranging from astronomy to geology. One of the activities most unique to Black Canyon of the Gunnison is stargazing. Night sky viewing and constellation tours are available throughout the year. On certain nights, the Black Canyon Astronomical Society also brings telescopes for visitors to use free of charge.

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Weather
  • Spring 50-70s F
  • Summer 86-91 F
  • Fall 50-70s F
  • Winter 18-48 F
Location & Hours
  • Coming soon
Park Info
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Private Vehicle: $20
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Motorcycle: $15
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Cyclists & Pedestrians: $10

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Hiking Trails

In all likelihood, you’ll start your hikes at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park at either the South Rim or the North Rim. The South Rim, which is open throughout the year, is generally considered the more visitor-friendly of the two. With restrooms, a visitor’s center, and paved roads, it tends to be the most popular launching point for hiking the park’s many trails.

Accessing the North Rim isn’t as easy, although many serious hikers consider it a destination. Driving to the North Rim from the South Rim takes about two to three hours on a gravel road. You’ll also want to make sure it’s open, as the North Rim closes in early winter until the later months of spring.

No matter what part of the park you’re in, the National Park Service warns visitors to be aware of bears in the area, as many come searching for hikers’ food. For this reason, NPS asks hikers to keep their backpacks and belongings within arms’ reach at all times.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park South Rim Trails

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park North Rim Trails

Things to do Outside Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The area around Black Canyon of the Gunnison reflects the Southwestern charm that makes western Colorado such a great place to visit. Once you’ve explored the park, take advantage of your trip by wandering out to the nearby towns for a great meal, some shopping, a visit to a local museum, or sightseeing. Here are some of our favorite recommendations for what to do outside of the park.

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RV Resorts & Campsites in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Several campgrounds are available near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Some are publicly owned by the National Park Service, while others are privately operated. For the most part, the park’s public campgrounds are first come, first served and not available by reservation. If you like to plan ahead, it may be best to book a reservation with one of the privately owned campgrounds nearby.

Campgrounds Near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Find the Best Dumpstations Near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

An unglamorous but necessary aspect of RVing? Dump stations. Knowing where the best dump stations are near you will allow for more ease and less stress in your travels. Dump stations are an easy and convenient way to clear waste from your RV. Use our guides to find dump stations on your route, so you can get back to the good stuff – exploring, relaxing, and making memories on the road.

Dumpstations Near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

How to get to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Most travelers to Black Canyon of the Gunnison arrive by car or RV, although you can also fly in to one of the nearby airports.

One of the best ways to travel to Black Canyon of the Gunnison is by RV. Many visitors find that renting an RV is the ideal way to see the park since you can stay directly inside and visit different spots without having to change hotels. Even if you don’t own one yourself, many RV rentals can be found online for less than $100 per day. Whether you’re looking for a small pop-up trailer or a large, family-sized motorhome, there are plenty of options to choose from.

If you’ll be camping inside the park, remember that only the South Rim campground has electrical hookups (and only during the summer). RV camping is available at the North Rim, but there are no hookups.

To get to the South Rim, drive 7 miles north on CO Highway 347 after passing the intersection of U.S. Highway 50. For access to the North Rim, start on CO Highway 92 and turn west on Black Canyon Road about 3 miles south of Crawford. Remember: There’s no bridge across the canyon, so give yourself between 2 to 3 hours if you need to drive from the South Rim to the North Rim.

If you’ll be flying, the closest airport is the Montrose Regional Airport, which is serviced by Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, and United. Slightly farther away is the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport, which is serviced by American Airlines and United. A third option is to fly into the Grand Junction Regional Airport, which is best for accessing the North Rim. Grand Junction’s airport is serviced by Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, Denver Air, and United.

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Frequently Asked Questions
    Is Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park accessible for disabled visitors?

    Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has two accessible campsites, along with the restrooms closest to those sites. The South Rim Visitor Center and several overlook areas are also wheelchair accessible. A movie shown at the South Rim Visitor Center is also accessible for audiences with hearing and visual impairments.

    Are pets allowed at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?

    Pets are allowed at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. They must be on leashes and can be walked on roads, in campgrounds, to overlooks, and on certain trails. They are not allowed on all other trails in the park, or on cross-country ski trails.

    What are the top things to do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?

    Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is known for its views of the impressive canyon. Take the Rim Drive to check out various overlooks around the park, especially Chasm View and Painted Wall. You can also fish or take a difficult hike through the Inner Canyon if you're up for a challenge.

    Are there designated camping spots in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?

    There are two developed campgrounds within Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The South Rim Campground has electric hookups and is suitable for RV camping. The North Rim Campground allows campers and trailers up to 22 feet long but does not have hookups.

    How large is Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?

    Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is 48 square miles, or 30,750 acres large. It includes 14 miles of the Black Canyon, which is 48 miles long in total.