Black Canyon of the Gunnison became a National Park in 1999. Its located in Colorado and has some of the world’s oldest exposed rock. The canyon is home to Precambrian or “basement” rock, which is nearly 2 billion years old! This might not be Colorado’s biggest park, but there is still enough to fill a day of adventures.
The park has two main scenic drives- the North and South Rim, with the South Rim being more popular. There are multiple look-out points along the drive where you can peer a mere 2,000 feet down into the canyon and admire views of the Gunnison River. Out of the numerous viewpoints, my favorite was the Painted Wall. This is the tallest cliff in Colorado, and if started at the floor of the canyon, the Empire State Building would only reach about halfway up!! So crazy. They say this is also the best place to view the sunset!
Black Canyon of the Gunnison has hiking trails for all abilities. While many of the hikes are accessible from the north and south rim, with a wilderness permit, you can explore the backcountry through more intense hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking the river. The Gunnison River is also known for its outstanding trout fishing, and we saw a few people trying their luck while we had lunch down by the river.
After exploring the top of the canyon, we drove down the East Portal Road. This is a paved road that descends all the way down to the river, where you can explore, fish, and even dip your toes in the water. The Gunnison is a beautiful river! You feel so small when viewing up at the canyon walls 2,000 feet above you.
Overall, our day at the park was full of majestic views and beautiful weather. We spent the rest of the afternoon reading by the pool at our KOA and talking with other friendly campers about previous travels and future bucket list trips. The next day we were up early and headed back to Salt Lake- another great weekend of exploring our National Parks in the books!