Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park vs Capitol Reef National Park

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Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Capitol Reef National Park are both hidden gems in the western United States, offering visitors an unforgettable experience of natural beauty and outdoor adventure. Both parks offer unique landscapes and features that are sure to leave you in awe. Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park boasts a dramatic and steep-walled canyon that is one of the most spectacular in North America, carved by the Gunnison River. On the other hand, Capitol Reef National Park is known for its colorful sandstone cliffs, winding canyons, and stunning vistas. Whether you’re a nature lover, a hiker, or a photographer, both of these parks are sure to offer something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your camera and get ready to explore two of the most stunning national parks in the United States.

Hiking Trails in Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Capitol Reef National Park

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Capitol Reef National Park are both known for their rugged, natural beauty, but the hiking trails at these two parks are quite different. At Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park, the main attraction is the steep, narrow gorge of the Gunnison River, which is over 2,000 feet deep in some places. The park offers several hiking trails that take visitors to the rim of the canyon, including the South Rim Road, which is a scenic drive that offers several overlooks and short trails. The park also has a challenging hike to the bottom of the canyon, the Gunnison Route, which is considered one of the most difficult trails in the park. This hike is not recommended for children or those with a fear of heights.

On the other hand, Capitol Reef National Park is known for its colorful sandstone cliffs, rugged canyons, and unique geologic formations. The park offers a wide variety of hiking trails, including easy trails that take visitors to the park’s famous “Waterpocket Fold” and more challenging trails that lead to remote canyons and scenic overlooks. Some of the most popular hikes at Capitol Reef include the Cassidy Arch Trail, which is a moderate hike to a scenic arch, and the Grand Wash Trail, which is an easy hike through a narrow canyon. Families with children will find many easy and family-friendly trails to explore at Capitol Reef National Park. Overall, Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park is better for those who are looking for a challenging hike and an awe-inspiring view of the steep, narrow canyon, while Capitol Reef National Park is more family-friendly and offers a wider variety of hiking trails for visitors to enjoy.

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Warner Point Nature Trail 1.50 mi 406.72 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Oak Flat Loop Trail 1.30 mi 311.60 ft loop Moderate 4/5
Gunnison Route Trail 1.80 mi 1,781.04 ft out and back Very Hard 4.5/5
Painted Wall View Trail 0.20 mi 6.56 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Chasm View Nature Trail 0.60 mi 108.24 ft loop Easy 5/5
Exclamation Point 2.89 mi 364.08 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Green Mountain Summit Via North Vista Trail 6.49 mi 1,226.72 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Gunnison Point Overlook 0.20 mi 78.72 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Rim Rock Nature Trail 1.50 mi 186.96 ft out and back Moderate 4/5
Warner Route 4.19 mi 3,034.00 ft out and back Very Hard 4.5/5

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Capitol Reef National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Hickman Bridge Trail 1.70 mi 426.40 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Cassidy Arch Trail 2.89 mi 701.92 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Grand Wash Trail via Northeast Trailhead 4.39 mi 400.16 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Chimney Rock Loop Trail 3.29 mi 793.76 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Cohab Canyon Trail 2.99 mi 793.76 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Navajo Knobs Trail 8.68 mi 2,135.28 ft out and back Hard 4.5/5
Goosenecks & Sunset Point 2.49 mi 544.48 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Capitol Gorge Trail 4.49 mi 373.92 ft out and back Moderate 4/5
Sulphur Creek Route 11.47 mi 1,403.84 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Rim Overlook Trail 4.09 mi 1,052.88 ft out and back Hard 4.5/5

Wildlife in Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Capitol Reef National Park

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including mule deer, bighorn sheep, elk, black bears, mountain lions, and coyotes. Visitors may also spot golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and other birds of prey in the park. The park’s rugged terrain and deep canyons provide a unique habitat for a variety of plant species, including pinyon pine, juniper, and sagebrush.

Capitol Reef National Park is also home to a diverse array of wildlife, including pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and desert bighorn sheep. Visitors may also spot golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, and other birds of prey in the park. The park’s unique geology and desert climate also provide a habitat for a variety of plant species, including Joshua trees, yucca, and cacti. Visitors may also see reptiles such as lizards, and snake species like the rattlesnake.

Both parks are great places to spot wildlife, but the Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park is more known for the diversity of its wildlife. However, Capitol Reef National Park is a great place to spot desert wildlife, specifically bighorn sheep, and desert bighorn sheep.

Below are lists of the most commonly spotted wildlife at Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. However, you can see a full list of wildlife at each national park here.

Birds

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park Capitol Reef National Park
Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon
Northern Harrier Northern Harrier
Sharp-Shinned Hawk Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Osprey Osprey
Tree Swallow Tree Swallow
Mallard Mallard
Canada Goose Canada Goose
Lincoln’s Sparrow Lincoln’s Sparrow
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
American Robin American Robin
Great Horned Owl Great Horned Owl
Red-Tailed Hawk Red-Tailed Hawk
Northern Flicker Northern Flicker
Merlin Merlin
Barn Swallow Barn Swallow
Great Blue Heron Savannah Sparrow
Hermit Thrush Great Blue Heron
American Kestrel Hermit Thrush
Bald Eagle American Kestrel
Song Sparrow Bald Eagle
European Starling Song Sparrow
Northern Pintail European Starling
American Wigeon Northern Pintail
Green-Winged Teal American Wigeon
American Pipit Green-Winged Teal

Mammals

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park Capitol Reef National Park
Coyote Coyote
American Beaver American Beaver
Muskrat Muskrat
Big Brown Bat Big Brown Bat
Bobcat Bobcat
Striped Skunk Striped Skunk
Little Brown Bat Little Brown Bat
Deer Mouse Deer Mouse
Raccoon Raccoon
Black Bear Black Bear
Porcupine Porcupine
Silver-Haired Bat Silver-Haired Bat
Hoary Bat Hoary Bat
Red Fox Red Fox
Long-Tailed Weasel Long-Tailed Weasel
House Mouse House Mouse
Mountain Lion Mountain Lion
American Mink American Mink
Mule Deer Mule Deer
Common Gray Fox Common Gray Fox
Long-Legged Myotis Long-Legged Myotis
Long-Eared Myotis Long-Eared Myotis
American Badger American Badger
California Myotis Ermine
Snowshoe Hare California Myotis

Fish

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park Capitol Reef National Park
Rainbow Trout Rainbow Trout
Brown Trout Brown Trout
Long-Nose Sucker Bluegill
Northern Pike Mottled Sculpin
Mottled Sculpin Speckled Dace
Speckled Dace Black Bullhead
Cutthroat Trout

Reptiles

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park Capitol Reef National Park
Gophersnake Gophersnake
Terrestrial Gartersnake Terrestrial Gartersnake
Common Sagebrush Lizard Prairie Rattlesnake
Greater Short-Horned Lizard Common Sagebrush Lizard
Milksnake Greater Short-Horned Lizard
Striped Whipsnake Side-Blotched Lizard
Tree Lizard Common Kingsnake
Eastern Collared Lizard Nightsnake
Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard
Striped Whipsnake
Smith’s Black-Headed Snake
Tree Lizard
Western Whiptail
Western Skink
Desert Spiny Lizard

Amphibians

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park Capitol Reef National Park
Northern Leopard Frog Northern Leopard Frog
Tiger Salamander Tiger Salamander
Woodhouse’s Toad
Red-Spotted Toad
Canyon Treefrog

Beautiful Landscapes in Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Capitol Reef National Park

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Capitol Reef National Park are both known for their awe-inspiring landscapes and natural wonders. Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park boasts a 2,250-foot deep gorge carved by the Gunnison River, with towering cliffs and dramatic vistas. Visitors can hike along the rim of the canyon for a bird’s eye view of the rugged terrain below. On the other hand, Capitol Reef National Park is famous for its colorful sandstone cliffs, which stretch for over 100 miles through the park. The park is also home to the Waterpocket Fold, a massive wrinkle in the earth’s crust that has created a diverse array of landscapes, including canyons, mesas, and natural bridges. Both parks offer a unique and stunning natural setting for visitors to explore and enjoy.

Things To-Do and Activities in Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Capitol Reef National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Capitol Reef National Park are both known for their unique and stunning landscapes, but the activities and wildlife found in each park are quite different.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is known for its steep and narrow canyon walls, which offer visitors a variety of hiking and backpacking opportunities. The park offers a range of trails, from easy rim walks to more strenuous backcountry hikes. The park is also a popular destination for rock climbing and camping. Wildlife in the park includes mule deer, bighorn sheep, and golden eagles.

Capitol Reef National Park, on the other hand, is known for its colorful sandstone cliffs, canyons, and domes. The park offers a variety of hiking trails, including the popular Capitol Gorge Trail and the Grand Wash Trail. Additionally, the park is known for its scenic drives, such as the Cathedral Valley Scenic Drive and the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive. The park is also a popular destination for camping, picnicking, and backpacking. Wildlife commonly seen in the park include mule deer, bighorn sheep, and golden eagles.

In terms of family-friendliness, both parks offer a variety of activities and trails that are suitable for families with children. However, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park may be more challenging for young children due to the steep and narrow canyon walls. On the other hand, Capitol Reef National Park may be more suitable for families with children as it has a wider variety of family-friendly activities and trails.

Best Time to Visit Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Capitol Reef National Park

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Capitol Reef National Park are both located in the Western United States, but they have distinct weather patterns and climates. Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park, located in western Colorado, has a semi-arid climate with hot summers and cold winters. The park receives very little precipitation, making it a great destination for outdoor activities in the summer. The best time to visit is between April and October, when the temperatures are mild and the park’s hiking trails and scenic drives are accessible.

Capitol Reef National Park, located in southern Utah, also has a semi-arid climate, but it is generally a little warmer than Black Canyon Of The Gunnison. Summer temperatures can be quite hot, with highs often reaching into the 90s Fahrenheit. Spring and fall are the best times to visit, with cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. Winter can bring snow and ice, making some of the park’s roads and trails inaccessible.

Both parks offer great experiences, but the best time to visit would depend on what kind of weather you prefer and what activities you want to do. If you want to hike, camp and enjoy the outdoors during mild temperatures and less crowds, Spring and Fall would be the best time to visit Black Canyon Of The Gunnison and Capitol Reef National Park.

Family Friendliness of Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Capitol Reef National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Capitol Reef National Park are both known for their awe-inspiring landscapes and natural wonders, but when it comes to family-friendliness, the two parks offer different experiences.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a more challenging park for families to visit, as it is known for its steep and narrow canyon walls that drop 2,700 feet to the Gunnison River. The park is also home to a number of strenuous hiking trails and offers limited amenities for families. While the park is not ideal for young children, it is perfect for families with older kids who are excited about a more rugged outdoor experience.

Capitol Reef National Park, on the other hand, is a more family-friendly option, as it offers a variety of activities that are suitable for all ages. Visitors can explore the park’s scenic drives, hike on well-maintained trails, or take guided tours to learn more about the park’s history and geology. The park also offers a number of campgrounds and picnic areas, making it a great option for families who want to spend a few days exploring.

In summary, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is perfect for families with older children who enjoy a rugged and adventurous outdoor experience, while Capitol Reef National Park is a great option for families who are looking for a more relaxed and family-friendly experience.

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