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Have you been wondering about the best things to do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of Colorado‘s best-kept secrets. Set within the beautiful southern CO region, it offers a wide range of activities, from scenic viewpoints to outdoor adventures.
As someone who has lived in Colorado for three years and visited this incredible park before, I can vouch for its unique beauty and incredible views. Plus, this is actually the very first national park in the USA I’ve ever visited, so it holds a very special place in my heart!
From fishing and camping to hiking and exploring, this park has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure or a peaceful respite from urban life, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park will not disappoint.
Keep reading to learn all about the best things to do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Things to do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Drive South Rim Road
Driving South Rim Road in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a must-do for any traveler who wants to take in the breathtaking beauty of this incredible canyon. Plus, if you’re visiting the park with just a short amount of time, this is the perfect way to get introduced to the beauty of it.
The 7-mile road winds through the park and offers some incredible views along the way. Just be sure to drive slow: with its steep dropoffs and narrow roads, it’s not for those who don’t like heights! (Even I was holding onto the car door pretty tightly as the passenger at times.)
The road goes from Tomichi Point all the way to High Point, but there are plenty of viewpoints along the way. Soak in the stunning scenery, snap some amazing photos, and enjoy your journey up (or down) the rim!
I do recommend that you grab a map at the visitor center or the entrance when you first get to the park so that you’re able to see all the stops along the way.
Hike to Exclamation Point
Hiking to Exclamation Point is a great way to experience the beauty of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. This relatively easy, 2.9-mile out-and-back trail takes about 1 hour to complete and it’s definitely worth it!
It’s one of the more popular trails in the park and is partially shaded, so depending on when you go it can be quite comfortable for your hike. Plus, there are some spectacular views at the end that will take your breath away!
I recommend getting here early in the day if you want to hike this because the parking lot can get fairly busy here.
This is easily one of the best Black Canyon of the Gunnison hikes.
Camp overnight in the park
Camping in Black Canyon National Park is a great way to experience the beauty of this incredible place. Whether you camp in South Rim, North Rim, or East Portal Campground, you’ll be surrounded by stunning views and have access to all the park’s wonders.
For those who want to start their days early and make the most out of the park, I highly recommend camping here. Spending hours in awe while taking in breathtaking sunrises or sunsets is an unforgettable experience that you won’t ever forget.
Fishing on the Gunnison River in Black Canyon National Park is a must-do for any angler. The river is filled with trout and other types of fish that can be caught with ease.
It’s important to keep in mind that you need a Colorado fishing license to fish here as well. With all of the fish around, you won’t have any problem getting your fill of catches. Plus, it is designated as Wild Trout and Gold Medal Water.
Be on the lookout for wildlife
Another of the best things to do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is to look for wildlife. There’s everything from mule deer to black bears and even many different birds.
The most popular time of day to see all these animals is in the early morning and evening, so make sure to get up early or stay up late to catch a glimpse! Don’t forget your camera either; this park is gorgeous and will provide plenty of photo opportunities.
Explore Inner Canyon
Exploring the Inner Canyon is one of the best things to do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park!
The Inner Canyon is down by the majestic Gunnison River, and there are some hikes that will take you down to this river. However, it’s important to note that if you want to go on these hikes, you’ll need to get a Wilderness Use Permit from the park office beforehand.
Keep in mind that these hikes are not easy and they are only recommended for those who don’t mind heights and have lots of experience with hiking.
Once you make it down there, camping is also an option and a great way to truly immerse yourself.
Hop in the car and drive East Portal Road
East Portal Road is an incredible drive for travelers looking to explore the Inner Canyon. It’s a seven-mile journey that leads to the Gunnison River, but don’t let its length fool you – this road has a 16% grade and it’s very steep!
For those who brave it, though, they’ll be treated to some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. If you’re up for a challenge and want to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, East Portal Road is a must-do.
Kayak on the river
Kayaking down the Gunnison River is an experience that all adventurers should have. Although it’s not recommended for those who are brand new to paddling, as the strong current can be too much for beginners, experienced kayakers will find a beautiful and thrilling journey!
You’ll get close up views of steep canyon walls and unique geological formations that could never be seen from higher up. It’s also a great way to take in the beauty of the park without having to hike long distances.
Hike the Warner Point Trail
Whether you’re an avid hiker or just looking to take a leisurely stroll, Warner Point Trail is the perfect option. This 1.5-mile round trip moderate trail is located at the end of South Rim Road and takes about an hour to complete.
Most of the views are out to the San Juan Mountain Range, but you do get a glimpse of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park for a brief moment near the end. It’s a great way to experience this incredible area without having to hike long distances.
Visit the South Rim Visitor Center
Visiting the South Rim Visitor Center is another of the best things to do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Not only is it filled with fun souvenirs and goodies, but it’s also a great way to learn more about the park from knowledgeable rangers.
Located on Highway 347, you’ll find engaging displays about the geological history of the area, with interactive exhibits that are perfect for all ages.
Stopping by the visitor center at any national park is always #1 on our must-do list, because it’s the perfect way to get introduced to the park itself and stay up-to-date with any changes in the park that we may not be aware of, like road closures.
Go stargazing at night
Because Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park doesn’t close, visitors can take advantage of star-filled nights after the sun goes down. It was declared an International Dark Sky Park in 2015, and is now one of many such parks in the country.
To get a great view of the night sky, visitors should try any overlooks like Sunset View, Chasm View, or Kneeling Camel View. Here you’ll be able to marvel at distant stars, planets, and more!
Take this from me – be sure to set your camera so that you’re able to take photos at night. I always forget and then lose out on some great photos because I spend time fixing the camera settings!
Catch the sunrise (or the sunset) at the park
Visiting Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in the morning to catch the sunrise is a great way to take in the most spectacular scenery.
For those looking for the perfect sunrise, Painted Wall is arguably the best spot in the park. However, Dragon Point and Rock Point offer equally stunning views as the sun rises over this breathtakingly beautiful park.
Because of the drive it takes to get up to the park, I recommend that you try to get there at least 30 minutes before your phone says the sunrise actually is. That way, you won’t miss it!
Find the Painted Wall
For visitors to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Painted Wall is a must-see! Rising up to 2250 feet tall, this impressive sight is comprised of multiple types of rock, and the panoramic view it provides is breathtaking.
Though the early birds will have the best chance at enjoying this majestic wall without crowds, it’s popularity makes it hard to visit without seeing other people enjoying the same experience. Plan ahead and make sure to get there early in the day before the crowds get there.
Final Thoughts: Things to do at Black Canyon of the Gunnison
The best things to do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park are experiences that will stay with you forever. This incredible national park provides travelers with unique and unforgettable views, from the majestic Painted Wall to the scenic overlooks of the canyon and its river.
Make sure to plan your trip ahead and get there early in the day to have plenty of time to explore. Even if there are crowds at some points, the natural beauty will make it worth it.
Finally, don’t forget to take lots of pictures as a reminder of your amazing trip to Colorado!
Watch our vlog from our day where we visited Ouray, Telluride, & Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park!
Woohoo, you’re heading to Colorado! As Colorado locals, we have tons of posts for this state. Explore more below!