Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument Travel Guide

  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument
    by goodfish
  • way way down . . . .
    way way down . . . .
    by painterdave
  • The Painted Wall
    The Painted Wall
    by Tom_Fields

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument Highlights

  • Pro
    KiKitC profile photo

    KiKitC says…

     The views are unique and spectacular! 

  • Con
    KiKitC profile photo

    KiKitC says…

     Roads are steep, windy and have sheer cliffs 

  • In a nutshell
    KiKitC profile photo

    KiKitC says…

     Unlike ANY landscape I've seen...unique 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument Things to Do

  • Black Canyon

    Next to Arizona's Grand Canyon, this is the most spectacular canyon in the southwest. Its sharp spires and rock faces are unforgettable. Unlike some of the other attractions out west, this one is not often crowded. There's little traffic or smog.Along the road are numerous short hiking trails, offering more views of the canyon and of occasional...

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  • High Point

    High Point is the last overlook along the South Rim Road. It is a good example of a Pinyon Pine/Juniper Forest. The type of trees in the forest depend on the climactic environment where they are located. Pinyon Pines and Junipers are specially adapted for the harsh arid climate and thin soil of Black Canyon. There is a hiking trail here leading to...

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  • Sunset View

    Sunset View is of interest for at least two reasons. One, it is a beautiful place to view a sunset and it is also a great place to view what geologists call an "unconformity". An "unconformity" is an absence of part of the geological record. This absence can be caused by a lack of deposits during that time period or uneven erosion. Sunset View has...

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  • Dragon Point

    This viewpoint has a nice view of the Gunnison River and the igneous rocks that intruded into the darker gneiss rock.

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  • Cedar Point

    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.

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  • Painted Wall

    At 2300 feet, the Painted Wall is the highest cliff in the entire state of Colorado. If the Empire State Building was placed on the canyon floor it would only reach about halfway up the canyon wall. The name Painted Wall, came about because of the lighter colored igneous rock that was squeezed (or intruded) into the existing rock then cooled and...

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  • Chasm View

    The Narrows, between Pulpit Rock and Chasm View, is the shallowest (1750 feet) and narrowest (1/4 mile) part of the canyon. This very narrow part of the canyon is further indication of the power caused by the rapidly moving water of the Gunnison River.

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  • Rock Point

    Rock Point is at the eastern edge of the part of Black Canyon called "the narrows". The canyon is at its narrowest here.

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  • Cross Fissures

    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.

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  • Pulpit Rock

    Notice the difference in the canyon walls at this overlook. Although the movement of the river through the canyon is the main factor in the formation of the canyon; moisture in the form of rain, snow and frost collects in the cracks in the rock and adds to the erosion. The South Rim is more eroded because it does not get as much sun and dries out...

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  • Gunnison Point

    Gunnison Point is a good place to see pegmatite dikes, which are lighter bands of igneous rock that have been squeezed into small fissures in the darker rock that forms most of the walls of Black Canyon (especially visible on GP4). The pegmatite dikes erode slower than the softer rock around it forming the fins along the canyon walls. These...

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  • Tomichi Point

    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.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument Restaurants

  • Dining in and Near the Park

    There is food service available at the Rim House. There are also a few options near the park, and many more in Montrose and Gunnison along US Highway 50. Both the Red Barn in Montrose and the House of China in Gunnison were pretty good. Steak at Red Barn, Shrimp in Garlic Sauce at the House of China.

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  • The best in town

    We were really lucky to stumble onto this place! It's advertised as "Featuring the flavors of the mesquite grill" and is catagorized as Southwest/American. As with all best places, it looked like the local favorite for a great meal. We were looking for a quick bite so didn't get into their full menu but it ranged from full dinners to salads, soups...

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  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument Hotels

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument Local Customs

  • goingsolo's Profile Photo
    There's gold in here

    by goingsolo Written Mar 6, 2003

    Legend has it that an 1880s wagon train en route to Phoenix from Denver was intercepted near the North Rim of the Black Canyon and robbed. At least one of the wagons was carrying newly minted dimes. It is speculated that a keg of diamonds was thrown over the edge. In 1973, a visitor to the canyon found three gallons of diamonds and an old keg.

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    • Adventure Travel

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument Warnings and Dangers

  • Straight down

    To get to the bottom of the Canyon, the road you drive on is a very steep grade, has sharp turns, and in spots is one lane. Can not be used if you have a RV or large trailer. Not recommeded for oversized vehicles. The park ranger at the top of the Canyon will advise you as to safety issues and clearence of your vehicle.

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  • Its a long way down

    The trails leading to the bottom drop very steeply. The Gunnison route, which splits from the Oak Flat loop trail, heads to the bottom in a very steep one mile. A permit is required to head to the bottom. The Oak Flat Trail heads almost a mile down, and even though its a series of switchbacks, its still pretty steep.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument Tourist Traps

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    Turn to the Canyon

    by RebeccaParker Written Dec 5, 2004

    When you turn off the main highway onto the road that leads to the Canyon there is a good size gift shop with several small buildings all packed full of overpriced items. They do have some very nice things, but they do not have a public restroom, so don't even try.

    Unique Suggestions: If you end up here try to think about what your purchasing, a lot of things can be found by you in the Canyon for free. Try to look beyond the polished, shinny surface of that rock or trinket and think how much more memorable it would be if you found it and took it home to polish it yourself. They do offer some nice books on the history of the area and the formation of the Canyon. We purchased a cheap map that gave a lot of history and facts, that was very interesting.

    Fun Alternatives: It's a nice place to window shop, put for purchasing your better off making the half hour to forty minute drive into Montrose and shopping at the larger stores.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument What to Pack

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    Our camp site

    by RebeccaParker Updated Dec 5, 2004

    Luggage and bags: Make sure you have all your gear. Don't forget the little things like matches, garbage bags, camp fire wood, cloth line, and utensils.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Pack both summer and winter cloths, remember this is Colorado, it could change on a drop of a dime. Besides the nights are always on the cool side.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: There is toilet paper in the outhouses, but it's still a good idea to bring back up. Always have a complete first aid kit when camping, hiking, or spending any time in the woods.

    Photo Equipment: You have to take lots of pictures, it's to beautiful not to. Bring a tri pod, if you have one, so you can get family shots.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Don't forget your cooking supplies. Cutting board, sharp knife, wash basin and soap. Aluminum foil is a most. Also, don't forget towels, washcloths, and napkins.

    Miscellaneous: Make sure to think of lighting- both flashlights and lanterns. Dirty laundry bag wouldn't be a bad idea. Anitbacterial waterless soap is always good. There are no stores, keep that in mind when packing. The closest would be atleast half hour drive.

    Related to:
    • Camping
    • Backpacking
    • National/State Park

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument Off The Beaten Path

  • Hot Spring Heaven

    If your willing to drive a couple of hours through awesome scenery to Ourey, you will come accross a great little town with some of the best hot springs in Colorado. The town itself is a small treasure, it has small shops ranging from souvenirs to homemade treasures, treats and ice cream. But, you'll think you've died and gone to heaven if you take...

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  • Hiking the Inner Canyon

    There are NO maintained or MARKED trails into the inner canyon. Routes are difficult to follow, and only individuals in excellent physical condition should attempt these hikes. Hikers are expected to find their own way and to be prepared for self-rescue. Wilderness permits are required for accessing the inner canyons, they are free. See the website...

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  • Hiking the North Rim

    Chasm View Nature TrailModerate - 1/3 mile round tripTrail is located at the end of the one-way campground loop. North Chasm View, some 1800 feet above the river and views of Painted Wall and Serpent Point. North Vista TrailModerate to Exclamation Point - 3 miles round tripStrenuous to Green Mountain - 7 miles round tripConstructed by volunteers...

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument Sports & Outdoors

  • Basaic's Profile Photo
    Oak Flat Loop 4 more images

    by Basaic Written Nov 4, 2011

    The majority of the longer hiking trails are located on the North Rim. I did not go there. Most of the trails along the southern rim merely lead from parking areas to the viewpoints. There are trails to Warner Point and the Oak Flat Loop on the South Rim that are longer.

    Equipment: Good walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, water, weather appropriate clothing.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument Favorites

  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National...

    Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located in the Western part of Colorado a bit South of center. It is along US Highway 50. Black Canyon is an interesting place to spend a few hours or a few weeks. The park includes 14 of the 48 miles of Black Canyon. There is more elevation change in that 48 miles than in 1500 miles of the Mississippi...

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  • Wilderness Regulations

    A quick, easy list of rules to remember, respect the land...(from the park's guide)* Wilderness Use permits are required. (free)* Wood fires are prohibited. Use camp stoves only. * No pets. * A valid Colorado Fishing license is required, and Gold Medal Water regulations apply - artificial lures only; possession limit for brown trout is 4, of which...

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  • Fees and Reservations

    From the Black Canyon of the Gunnison website...ENTRANCE FEE - SINGLE VISITThe entrance fee is $15.00 per vehicle at the South Rim entrance station and the North Rim ranger station of Black Canyon. It covers all persons in a single, private, noncommercial vehicle and is valid for seven calendar days. The entry fee for pedestrians, bicyclists,...

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Explore Deeper into Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument
Bristlecone Pines
Things to Do
Have a Picnic
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Visitors Center Displays
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Start at the Visitors Center
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Black Canyon of the...
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South Rim Drive
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Hiking on the South Rim
Off The Beaten Path
East Portal Road
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Painted Wall
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Viewing the bottom
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Round the bend into a whole new world
Off The Beaten Path
Crystal Dam
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Blue skies and breath taking views
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go to the north rim
Off The Beaten Path
Rock Climbing in Black Canyon
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North Vista Trail Exclamation Point
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Oak Flat Loop Trail
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Chasm View Nature Trail
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Rim Rock Nature Trail
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Black Canyon by boat
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Map of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument

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