13 Things to Do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

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Kelsey is a freelance writer based in Southern Virginia. She enjoys traveling with her family to destinations from national parks to amusement parks and loves sharing tips and stories from along the way.

Nestled in western Colorado, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of the state’s four national parks and is a geological marvel known for its dramatic cliffs and rugged beauty.

The park, established in 1999, spans over 30,000 acres and offers visitors an incredible opportunity to witness the powerful forces of nature at work.

The towering walls of the canyon, formed over millions of years, reveal a glimpse into the Earth’s ancient past and exciting opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Let’s delve into the exciting activities that await you at this remarkable destination.

Witness the Park’s Beauty at Scenic Overlooks

Black Canyon of the Gunnison scenic Overlooks
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One of the must-do activities in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is visiting the scenic overlooks. These vantage points provide amazing views of the canyon and its sheer cliffs.

The Painted Wall View, the tallest cliff in Colorado, is a sight to behold. Marvel at the contrasting colors and textures as the sunlight plays upon the rock formations.

Some popular overlooks include Chasm View, Dragon Point, and Tomichi Point. Be sure to bring your camera and capture these awe-inspiring vistas.

Explore Nature’s Wonders on the Hiking Trails

Black Canyon of the Gunnison Hiking Trails
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For those seeking an immersive experience in the park, the walking trails offer a chance to get up close and personal with the natural wonders of Black Canyon.

From leisurely strolls to challenging hikes, there are options for all skill levels. The Rim Rock Trail provides stunning panoramas of the canyon, while the Gunnison Route Trail takes you down into the depths for a unique perspective.

Remember to pack plenty of water, wear sturdy shoes, and stay on designated trails to ensure your safety and preserve the delicate ecosystem.

Wildlife Viewing

Black Canyon Wildlife
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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife species. Keep your eyes peeled for mule deer, elk, black bears, and bighorn sheep as you explore the park.

Birdwatchers will delight in the opportunity to spot golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and canyon wrens. Consider bringing binoculars and a field guide to enhance your wildlife viewing experience.

Remember that the park isn’t a petting zoo! Always maintain a safe distance and observe but don’t disturb these creatures in their natural habitat.

Fishing: Cast a Line in Pristine Waters

Black Canyon of the Gunnison Fishing
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Anglers will be delighted by the crystal-clear waters of the Gunnison River. With its reputation as a world-class fishery, the river offers excellent opportunities for trout fishing.

Whether you prefer fly fishing or spin casting, you can expect to reel in brown trout, rainbow trout, and kokanee salmon.

A Colorado fishing license is required, so be sure to obtain one before you embark on your fishing adventure.

Embrace the Outdoors: Camp!

black canyon of the gunnison camp
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Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park by spending a night under the stars. The park offers several campgrounds that cater to both tents and RVs.

Wake up to the sound of birdsong, breathe in the crisp mountain air, and witness the magic of the night sky unpolluted by city lights.

Remember to make reservations in advance, as camping spots fill up quickly, especially during the peak summer season.

Educate Yourself With a Ranger Program

black canyon ranger
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Take advantage of the ranger-led programs available at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Join a guided hike or attend an informative talk to learn about the park’s geology, flora, and fauna.

Rangers are knowledgeable and passionate about sharing their expertise, providing valuable insights that enhance your understanding of the park’s natural wonders. Check the park’s schedule for the latest programs and plan your visit accordingly.

Photography Opportunities: Capture Unforgettable Moments

Black Canyon of the Gunnison
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Photographers will find opportunities around every corner at Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

From the play of light and shadow on the canyon walls to the vibrant wildflowers that bloom in the summer, you’ll find endless opportunities to create stunning photographs.

Experiment with different angles and perspectives to showcase the grandeur of this natural wonder.

Get Your Heart Pumping: Go Rock Climbing

Black Canyon of the Gunnison Rock Climbing
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For adventure seekers and rock climbing enthusiasts, Black Canyon offers challenging routes that will put your skills to the test.

The vertical walls of the canyon provide a thrilling playground for expert climbers. At its deepest point, Warner Point, the canyon is 2,722 feet deep, and at 2,250 feet, The Painted Wall is the tallest wall in Colorado.

However, it is essential to have proper climbing gear, experience, and knowledge of the area’s climbing ethics. Safety should always be the top priority, so consider hiring a local guide if you are unfamiliar with the routes.

Rafting and Kayaking: Navigate the Gunnison River

Rafting and Kayaking: Navigate the Gunnison River
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Embark on an exhilarating river adventure by rafting or kayaking through the Gunnison River. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you navigate the rapids and witness the towering canyon walls from a unique perspective.

Several outfitters in the area offer guided trips suitable for both beginners and experienced paddlers. It’s an unforgettable way to experience the raw power and beauty of the Black Canyon.

Stargazing: Marvel at the Night Sky

black canyon Camp
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As night falls, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park transforms into a stargazer’s paradise. Far from the light pollution of city lights, the park offers pristine conditions for observing the night sky. Visit during the new moon phase for the darkest skies and best stargazing conditions!

Spread out a blanket, lie back, and marvel at the stunning views of countless stars that illuminate the darkness. The park also hosts an annual Astronomy Festival on the South Rim of the park.

During certain times of the year, ranger-led stargazing programs are available, allowing you to explore the cosmos with the guidance of an expert astronomer.

Picnicking: Indulge in Scenic Lunches

Black Canyon of the Gunnison Picnicking
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Take a break from your adventures and enjoy a peaceful picnic amidst the incredible views of Black Canyon. The park provides picnic areas with tables and grills where you can savor your meal surrounded by nature’s beauty.

Pack a delicious lunch, sit back, and relish the panoramic views of the canyon while enjoying quality time with family and friends.

Junior Ranger Program: Engage the Younger Generation

Black Canyon of the Gunnison
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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park offers a Junior Ranger Program designed to engage and educate young visitors. Children can participate in various outdoor activities and earn a Junior Ranger badge upon completion.

The program encourages kids to learn about the park’s natural and cultural resources while fostering a sense of stewardship for the environment. It’s a fantastic way to inspire the next generation of nature enthusiasts.

Geology Tour: Unravel the Canyon’s Secrets

Black Canyon of the Gunnison Geology Tour
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Delve into the geological wonders of the Black Canyon through a guided geology tour. Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, you’ll unravel the mysteries behind the formation of the canyon and gain a deeper understanding of its unique features.

Discover the forces that shaped this remarkable landscape over millions of years and appreciate the incredible natural processes that continue to shape it today.

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Old Faithful Yellowstone
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Arches National Park
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Zion Mystery Falls
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