Black Canyon of the Gunnison
102 Elk Creek
Gunnison, Colorado 81230
Welcome to Black Canyon!
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison's unique and
spectacular landscape was formed slowly by the action of water and
rock scouring down through hard Proterozoic crystalline rock.
No other canyon in North America combines the
narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths offered by the Black
Canyon of the Gunnison.
- East Portal
- High Point
- Sunset View
The main attraction of the park is the scenic
drive along the south rim. There is a campground and several miles of
hiking and nature trails. The north rim is accessible by automobile,
though it is quite remote, and has a small, primitive campground. The
river can be accessed by a steep, un-maintained trail that takes about
four hours to hike down and six to hike back up.
The Black Canyon is a center for rock climbing,
in a style known as traditional climbing. Most of the climbs are
difficult and are only done by advanced climbers.
Rafting opportunities exist in the region, but
the run through the park itself is a difficult technical run for only
the best kayakers. There are several impassible stretches of water
requiring long, sometimes dangerous portages to get around.
The remaining rapids are class III - V, and are
for expert river runners only. Downstream, in the Gunnison Gorge
National Conservation Area, the river is somewhat easier, though still
very remote and for experienced runners only, with rapids that are
Class III - IV.
The Ute Indians had known the canyon to exist
for a long time before the first Europeans saw it. By the time the
United States gained independence in 1776, two Spanish expeditions had
passed by the canyons. In the 1800s, the numerous fur trappers
searching for beaver pelts would have known of the canyon's existence
but they left no written record. By the late 1800s and into the early
1900s, the canyon had been thoroughly explored and while the first
explorers came for commercial success and wealth, the later visitors
came to see the canyon as an opportunity for recreation and personal
enjoyment. The area was established as a U.S. National Monument on
March 2, 1933 and made into a National Park on October 21, 1999.
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