According to the locals of Montrose, Colorado, Black Canyon National Park is the number one hidden gem of Colorado. Let’s journey to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison!
To read this article later, click “Save” on the picture to save to Pinterest.
“The Hidden Gem”
Every year when children are out of school and the weather is perfect, many families decide to go on vacation. It may be to their annual vacation spot or someplace different every year.
Our summer vacation of 2019 led us to spend the night in Montrose, Colorado, planning to visit Telluride in the morning. However, the next day at breakfast, a local told us that we should visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Because it was only 20 minutes away and claimed to be “the hidden gem of Colorado,” we decided it was worth a shot.
A hidden gem indeed. The weather was gorgeous, the views were spectacular and the crowds were nonexistent. With 307,143 visitors in the year of 2017, there are so many sights to see without too many heads in your way, unlike at Yellowstone.
With all of these variables, this was my favorite national park we visited during our entire trip. We also had visited Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Arches National Park.
What to do at Black Canyon National Park
In the park, there are two rims of the canyon, the North and the South Rim. Where you are coming from might determine which rim you go to, due to the fact that the two rims are so far apart by car. We came in and hiked on the South Rim, so we can provide pictures for those hikes highlighted below.
Now that you know that we went to Black Canyon National Park on a whim, it’s not detective work to figure out that we did not have any idea where to begin.
Due to the fact that no research was done before we visited the Black Canyon, we asked a ranger at their lovely visitor’s center what he recommended. We told him that we didn’t want to go all the way down into the canyon and wished for relatively short hikes (around two miles long). Here are a few hikes he recommended to us.
Hike #1 – Oak Flat Loop Trail
Out first hike was this beautiful 2-mile hike called Oak Flat Loop Trail. There were a few benches on the hike and it was right behind the visitor’s center for added convenience. Below are some pictures I took on that hike. The views were stunning!
The hike was relatively shady and it offered great views. It was an easy hike, even for those not used to the elevation.
Hike #2 – Warner Point Nature Trail
This next hike is Warner Point Nature Trail. It was at the end of the South Rim, the last stop on the road. It was 1.5 miles and a moderate (yet hilly) hike. The views were also just as breathtaking as Oak Flat Loop. Below are a few pictures from Warner Point.
The wildlife and scenery on both of the hikes were absolutely amazing. We were at the Black Canyon for no more than four hours. However, we didn’t go into the canyon itself (which would have taken much longer and required a permit). We also didn’t see the North Rim.
Because the hikes on the other side were longer and it took about a two-hour drive to get to the other side of the canyon. If you are one to prefer longer hikes, the North Rim might be the rim for you.
Hike #1 – Deadhorse Trail
There is a 5-mile roundtrip hike called Deadhorse trail. However, according to AllTrails, the views are pretty much what you get from the road. I recommend it if you just want to hike.
Hike #2 – North Vista Trail to Green Mountain
This second hike is a 7-mile roundtrip hike, North Vista Trail to Green Mountain. This hike is rated very highly on AllTrails, and everyone seems to love it!
RV and Campsites
If you want to buy your very own tent, just like ours (and I highly recommend it), you can do so here.
The best way to enjoy nature is to spend all 24 hours of the day in it, like camping or RVing! Now let’s look at some awesome RV and campsites in the Black Canyon!
Campground #1 – South Rim Campground
South Rim Campground, with 57 campsites, is tent and RV friendly. It provides toilets and electricity hookups for RVs. It also allows pets and campfires. You can book your visit to this campsite here.
Campground #2 – East Portal Campground
East Portal Campground, with only 15 sites, is a first come first served campsite with provided bathrooms. Campfires are allowed, and firepits are provided.
Where to rent RV’s
An RV adds much more fun to your camping trip, plus you get a cozy bed and a small living area/kitchen. If you are interested in renting an RV, I have an awesome blog post about some super cool RV’s (like an ambulance RV!).
Before you go, it would be best for you to remember that from all sides of the canyon, there are miles of farmland and mountains. For that reason, it is recommended not to travel to the Black Canyon without a travel buddy, for reasons such as your car breaking down or weather troubles.
As Coloradan hikers know, it is not always safe to hike alone, due to wildlife or possible injury. And remember, take pictures, leave footprints, and of course… have fun! Happy Hiking!
If you enjoyed this article, you’re sure to like 10 Family-Friendly Places to go in Colorado Springs or Top 8 Astonishing Reasons to Go Camping. Also if you liked this article, have any questions or would like me to do another National Park post, please let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear your feedback!