When we planned to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, we didn’t know what to expect. I really hadn’t even heard about it until I started researching the best route for our trip. Tucked away in central Colorado, Black Canyon of the Gunnison is probably a national park most people don’t know much about. Yet, the park has some of the steepest cliffs in North America and it’s clear by peering over the edge why the early exploration of the canyon was challenging. The deepest part of the canyon is 2,772 feet with the Gunnison River twisting and turning through the bottom. Largely known for it’s recreational activities, the park was made a national monument in 1933 and a national park in 1999.
On our way to the entrance, we traveled up rolling hills, winding through the terrain. Once at the top, the steep canyon walls dropped sharply off to the right of the South Rim. In total, the paved road along the South Rim (the most developed side of the park) only stretches 7 miles. The scenic drive is highlighted by 12 overlooks along with a Visitor Center. Although the Visitor Center was closed during our visit due to Covid, the rangers set up an information table outside so that visitors could ask questions or pick up a map. Still, the dog-friendly areas are very limited since dogs can only be in the developed areas of the park and there isn’t a lot of space along the rim. As such, we gave the park a pet-friendly rating of 1.5 out of 5 stars.
We didn’t have a lot of time to spend in the park since we were making our way to Denver, but we stopped at the Visitor’s Center and drove the short distance out along the south rim to the overlooks. Stopping off at the sights, I certainly had a feeling of vertigo as I peered over each side.
After our quick visit, we made our way back down the mountain, content with what we found. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a perfect example of approaching every experience with no expectations, and in the end, places will often turn out to be pleasantly surprising.
Quick notes about the park:
- Entrance fee: $25.00
- Pet-friendly rate: 1 out of 5 stars
- Camping is available at South Rim Campground (reservable), North Rim and East Portal
- Most popular lookouts:
- Pulpit Rock
- Chasm View
- Painted Wall View