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Overview

This unusually steep and scenic, 53-mile-long park is 1,000 feet wide at the top. The Gunnison River, at the bottom, is just 40 feet wide. The bottom is for kayakers and adventurers at home in the most extreme possible conditions. The top is a bit of a tourist trap, especially during summer, with a souvenir-selling visitors center, lines for outdoor restrooms, and a few crowded paths leading to points where you can look down the vertigo-inducing mesa cliffs into the sliver of river. Check out the canyon two simple ways: The South Rim is about seven miles long, with 12 overlooks, and begins at the visitors center; the North Rim's six ...

This unusually steep and scenic, 53-mile-long park is 1,000 feet wide at the top. The Gunnison River, at the bottom, is just 40 feet wide. The bottom is for kayakers and adventurers at home in the most extreme possible conditions. The top is a bit of a tourist trap, especially during summer, with a souvenir-selling visitors center, lines for outdoor restrooms, and a few crowded paths leading to points where you can look down the vertigo-inducing mesa cliffs into the sliver of river. Check out the canyon two simple ways: The South Rim is about seven miles long, with 12 overlooks, and begins at the visitors center; the North Rim's six overlooks are accessible via the gravel North Rim Road, beginning at the east end of Crawford State Park. A more difficult way into the canyon is the East Portal Road, a steep (16-percent grade!) and curvy path that begins in the northwest portion of Curecanti National Recreation Area, near the Gunnison Diversion Tunnel. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of the rare wilderness parks that serves both casual, drive-through tourists (at the top) and hardcore adventurers (at the bottom).

Steve Knopper
About the Expert

Steve Knopper is the Denver-based author of Moon Handbooks Colorado as well as a contributor to numerous Fodor's city guides.

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Steve Knopper for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer