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Ride along the rim of this spectucular gulch. If you are acrophobia(afraid of heights) beware. The two lane road is paved all throughout this area of the park, but the road winds along the cliff edges, and often there are no guradrails on curves. I know they make me nervous.
The views from up here are amazing, and every turn on the road offers another, completely unique, breath-taking view.
There are plenty of places along the road to stop. Each point has a little observation deck, complete with nice thick steel guardrail, so even I could stand nearer to the edge...
The road winds around, up to High Point, then turns you around back towards the visitors center. So, if one stop is full, you can always stop there on the way back down. Some stops have a short walk to the deck, but the views are worth it.
South Rim Drive is closed in winter past the Visitor's Center. The road remains open all year to this point.
Updated Jun 11, 2009
This two-lane road which will take you down to the bottom of the canyon has extremely steep, 16% grades and hairpin turns. Not for the faint of heart. And, for good reason, this road is closed in winter.
There is picknicking, a recreation area and camping down below, as the road winds along the river. The road passes through some private property, but as always, stay on the roads and stop where the park system has set-up for parking.
Updated Oct 5, 2007
One of the first writers to describe the canyon named this rock wall, "Painted Wall". The walk to this overlook is one of the longer ones, taking maybe 10 minutes of a walk, but it is worth it.
You can find this and many more overlooks by driving west from the Visitor's Center.
Written Jun 29, 2007
You can drive a very steep road to the bottom from the south side. Don't plan to drive an RV or pull a trailer down this road, it is too steep and there is no place to turn around. Good brakes are a necessity.
Once at the bottom you can drive nearly all the way to the dam, or in the other direction go to the end of the road, which is a campground.
There is a picnic area on the way to the dam. However, you can also use the tables in the campground for a picnic if they are not used by campers. It makes for a pleasant afternoon, and there will be fishermen fly fishing because this river is a Gold Water Area of the U.S. There are some big fish waiting. To fish this area you must use only flies or lures and barbless hooks. All fish must be returned to the river.
There is water available down there, but no concessions. Vault Toilets.
Written Jun 29, 2007
Crystal Dam slows the flow of the Gunnison River through the canyon and provides irrigation to nearby Montrose. It is truley amazing to see what man was capable of building, without injury, back when all they had were shovels and a plan. There are several historical signs detailing the building of the damn and it's history. Also, there is several calm fishing spots along the way for fishing from the bank or if your a fly fisherman, then you have it made in the shade.
Updated Dec 5, 2004
Address: Bottom of Canyon
Constructed by volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, the North Vista Trail offers some of the best scenic views and birding in the Park. Start this trail at the North Rim Ranger Station. The trail then follows the north vista trail west from the rangers station at the north rim entrance. The first portion of the trail passes through sagebrush and gambel oak, then proceeds through pine and juniper forests. The trail is mostly level, making this an easy hike, Exclamation Point is an undeveloped overlook that offers views of the inner canyon and a view of Chasm view point. After passing through an area of sage and oak brush, the trail meanders in a pinyon/juniper forest along the canyon’’s rim. Several overlooks offer views of SOB draw and the inner canyon. At Exclamation Point some of the best inner-canyon views can be found.
Updated Mar 11, 2003
The Oak Flat Loop Trail (built by Student Conservation Association volunteers) offers variety to the hiker who would like to explore below the rim without taking on the challenge of hiking to the river. The 2 mile trail is narrow in places and traverses some steep slopes. The trail begins near the Visitor Center. Go a short distance to the Oak Flat Loop/River Access sign and follow the trail which leads right. . The trail descends about 1/4 mile through gambel oak and then descends rather steeply through douglas fir and aspens before reaching Oak Flat. The entire trail drops nearly 400 feet. The Oak Flat Loop reaches the signed turnoff for the unmarked route to the bottom, which drops 1,500 feet in less than a mile. A permit is required to continue down this trail.
Descend through a grove of aspen to another signed junction. Turn left here to continue on the Oak Flat Loop. The trail meanders through a thicket of oak scrub (Gambel oak) passing near a rock outcrop, a pleasant location where you can relax and enjoy the view. The trail then heads west where it begins its ascent through a forest of Douglas fir, Aspen, and Gambel oak. On the return leg one encounters another unmarked overlook offering spectacular views The Oak Flat loop continues west along a ledge, passing an outcrop with a view of the canyon. From here, the dark walls of the canyon are visible, along with the light streaks created from molten rock. The trail heads west again briefly before climbing up, passing a strand of aspens at the base of a cliff. The climb out on this portion of the loop trail is not nearly so steep as the portion of the trail leading from the visitors center.
Updated Mar 11, 2003
This trail is located at the end of the one-way campground loop. After a short distance, the trail breaks out of the pinyon/juniper forest at the North Chasm View, some 1800 feet above the river. Continuing near the rim, the trail reaches a second overlook with excellent views of Painted Wall and Serpent Point. Keep a lookout for swifts, swallows and raptors frequently seen from this overlook. The people you can see on the far side, at Chasm View overlook are only 1,100 feet away.
Written Mar 6, 2003
As its name implies, this self-guided nature trail takes you along a relatively flat path following the rim of the canyon. Along this sunny route you will encounter a variety of plant life from sagebrush and Gambel oak to pinyon pine and Utah juniper. This trail allows many excellent views of the Gunnison River as well as the sheer walls of the canyon. The Rim Rock Trail Guide will describe many points of interest along the way starting from the trailhead near Campground Loop C and ending at the Tomichi Point Overlook.
Written Mar 6, 2003
The Curecanti Recreation area lies between Gunnison and Montrose and surrounds three lakes which were the result of three dams built between 1960 and 1976. These dams are all on the Gunnison river. The tallest one, a concrete structure of 496 feet, is near the small settlement of Cimarron. This dam created a long, deep and narrow lake named for the dam and called Morrow Point. This lake runs through the Black Canyon. To take the tour, you must take Pine Creek Trail down a huge stairway (232 steps) and along the Rio Grande Rail Bed deep into the canyon just below Blue Mesa dam. The tour through the Black Canyon lasts about an hour and a half and passes Chipeta Falls and the Curicante Needle
Updated Mar 6, 2003
Address: Elk Creek Marina
Phone: 970 641 0402