A Day Hiking in “Black Canyon of the Gunnison” 

Sensational hiking trails, dramatic canyons, and neverending spectacular views will keep you for hours exploring the “Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park”.


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We started at the very first overlook we came upon, “Tomichi Point”  and began our first hike, the “Rim Trail”. A self-guided 1-mile nature trail along the Canyon Rim surrounded by Sagebrush, Gambel oak, Pinion, and Utah Juniper overlooking sheer canyon walls with glimpses of the Gunnison River far below.

Spellbinding and just a tease to the hiking trails we discovered ahead in the Park.



At the Visitor Center a “Geology Walk” was just beginning and we tagged along, once again hiking the Rim Trail.

The Park Ranger brought life to the Geology Walk with personality and sense of humor.

NOTE: Junior Ranger Program is an exciting way for kids to appreciate the Parks and be enthusiastic about every hiking trail.


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Next trail we came upon, Oak Flat Loop, leading off from the Visitor Center was the perfect 2-mile trail to get a real feel for the intensity of this park, just how far down the bottom really is and how challenging it would be to get to the bottom.

Sprinkled with Aspens and Douglas Fir among the Gambel oak as you descend aways into the canyon, we meandered past several impressive overlook outcroppings until we began ascending again.

Oak Flat Loop, moderate/strenuous hiking trial but exhilarating! 



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Driving thru the Park is numerous easy, short hiking trails to overlooks with views of the Canyon. We found Pulpit Rock overlook and Painters Wall ones not to be missed.


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Warner Point Nature Trail, 1.5 miles out and back located at the end of the Park quickly became our favorite hike.

Binoculars, a must-have! Sightings of Peregrine Falcon are common within the Park. They nest on Canyon ledges and prey on other birds. 


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The highest point in the Park is found on Warner Point Nature Trail. The views of the Uncompahgre Valley, San Juan Mountain Range and the West Elk Mountains were mesmerizing and at the end of the trail, add the daunting views of the Gunnison River and the Canyon, it’s a must-do….

Black Canyon Park Map – shows boundaries, roads, hiking trails and overlooks

Black Canyon Backcountry Map – locations of inner canyon routes

National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map – This is the perfect map of the entire park, backcountry trails, and campsites,  Plus it includes Curecanti National Recreation Area. 





Before leaving the Park, don’t miss driving down the East Portal Road, the easiest way to reach the bottom of the Canyon and the Gunnison River. 5.2 miles of switchbacks on the steepest descent we’ve ever been on in a car. 


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Beautiful and quiet at the bottom, lots of fisherman and a small campground. Once down by the river you won’t want to leave.

Camping – 2 campgrounds within the Park and 1 campground at East Portal on the River

Fishing along the Gunnison River – a valid Colorado Fishing License and Gold Medal regulations apply



We geared our day hiking within the Park as a “tourist experience”. There are Wilderness Trails that require a permit for more adventurous hiking with specific regulations.

NOTE: at the East Portal: Giardia (a parasite) is in all water sources & Poison Ivy can be 5 ft. tall along the river edge. (Yikes!)


Address: South Rim Visitor Center, 9800 Highway 347, Montrose, CO 81401

Black Canyon South Rim: 15 miles from Montrose, CO and 63 miles from Gunnison, CO

Black Canyon North Rim: 11 miles south of Crawford, CO, the road is closed in winter

No public transportation within the Park

No restaurants within the Park – Visit Montrose CO for the nearest snacks & goodies.

Picnic tables throughout the Park

Plan Your Visit


Dominguez Escalante Wilderness – Solitary & Rugged Beauty in Colorado’s High Desert

Ridgway State Park – One of Colorado’s Most Memorable Spots


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This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase anything through one of our links you will be supporting our small business at no extra cost to you