Being Utah residents, we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch usually write about the attractions that are found in Southern Utah. But, of course, every state has its own collection of amazing locations. And since, in nature, there are no state lines, we’re adding a special section to our blog – Nearly Nearby Attractions. And this post is about Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located in western Colorado, near the town of Montrose. The canyon which lends its name to the park is 48 miles long – although the park proper only covers 12 of those miles. The park is a geological marvel, containing the tallest sheer cliff in the state of Colorado – 2250 feet tall. In fact, the canyon is so deep that, in certain places, daylight only reaches the bottom for 33 minutes a day. Hence the name: Black Canyon.
A railroad line was constructed through a section of Black Canyon, which crossed the Gunnison River. In 1889 when author Rudyard Kipling rode the train through Black Canyon, he described it thus:
We entered a gorge, remote from the sun, where the rocks were two thousand feet sheer, and where a rock splintered river roared and howled ten feet below a track which seemed to have been built on the simple principle of dropping miscellaneous dirt into the river and pinning a few rails a-top. There was a glory and a wonder and a mystery about the mad ride, which I felt keenly…
What to do in the park?
Most people who visit the park come simply for the views – and who can blame them. US Highway 50 and Colorado State Highway 92 are the most traveled routes. The park also maintains a South Rim Road, a North Rim road and the East Portal Road. More information on these scenic drives are to be found here.
Of course, there are plenty of hiking trails as well. On the south side, consider taking the Oak Flat Loop Trail. And if you’re on the north side of the canyon, try Deadhorse trail. There are also unmaintained trails that will take you into the inner canyon.
There are two campgrounds in the national park, one on the north side, and one on the south. If you have an RV, be sure to go to the south rim campground, there are no hook-ups on the north rim.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a spectacular national park, and, in our opinion at least, well worth the trip.