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Black Canyon of the Gunnison

12 mi E of Montrose, CO




30,750 acres


308,962 in 2018


Nestled in the rugged terrain of western Colorado, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park stands as a testament to the raw power of nature and the enduring beauty it creates. Carved over millions of years by the mighty Gunnison River, the canyon's sheer granite walls plummet to depths of over 2,000 feet, creating a dramatic landscape of unparalleled grandeur. Visitors to the park are treated to breathtaking vistas from numerous overlooks, where they can marvel at the canyon's narrow gorges, towering spires, and dizzying cliffs. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore a network of hiking trails that wind along the canyon rim or descend into its depths, offering opportunities for adventure and solitude amidst the rugged wilderness. With its awe-inspiring vistas and rich geological history, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park stands as a testament to the enduring power and beauty of the natural world.


Within the rugged confines of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, a diverse array of wildlife thrives amidst the dramatic cliffs and rocky terrain. Along the canyon rim, visitors may spot agile mule deer grazing in meadows, while elusive Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep navigate the steep slopes with ease. Birdwatchers are treated to sightings of majestic golden eagles soaring overhead, along with peregrine falcons nesting in the canyon's sheer cliffs. Below the rim, the Gunnison River provides a lifeline for a variety of aquatic species, including rainbow and brown trout, while beavers and river otters ply its currents in search of food. In the quieter corners of the park, smaller creatures such as marmots, pikas, and yellow-bellied marmots dart among the rocks, adding to the rich tapestry of wildlife that calls Black Canyon home. As visitors explore this rugged landscape, they are greeted by the sights and sounds of a thriving ecosystem, where every creature plays a vital role in the delicate balance of nature.

Sounds of the Park

Things to Do

Visitors to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park can enjoy hiking, fishing, camping, stargazing, and more. In the winter, visitors can go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Note that the north rim of the canyon is closed during the winter season.

When to Visit

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has a continental climate with warm summers and cold, snowy winters. Precipitation is relatively rare year-round. Summer weather is pleasant, but it is also the busiest time of the year in terms of visitors. For mild weather and fewer crowds, visit during the spring (May) or fall (September-October) seasons.

Ties to Stephen Mather

stm plaque.jpg

Fun Fact

Much of the canyon is shrouded in shadows, with some parts of the canyon receive only around 30 minutes of sunlight per day.

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