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.
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.
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.
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.
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
This viewpoint has a nice view of the Gunnison River and the igneous rocks that intruded into the darker gneiss rock.
The canyon widens out quite a bit at this point and is quite pretty. The short trail is interesting because it has interpretive signs that teach about the plants in this area.
Rock Point is at the eastern edge of the part of Black Canyon called "the narrows". The canyon is at its narrowest here.
There are two overlooks at the end of this short trail. It is another good viewpoint for seeing the ridges and creeks that enter and form the canyon and the Gunnison River.
Tomichi Point is the first stop along the South Rim Road. The view from here shows several ridges entering the canyon and is quite pretty. This stop is just before the Visitors Center.
There are displays inside the visitors center explaining the ecology of the area and about the animals that call the area home.
Start your tour at the visitors center where you can obtain a brochure about the park, the park newspaper, and other information to help you plan how best to enjoy your visit.
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