The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of many awe-inspiring canyons carved by the Colorado River system. Here, the Gunnison River has sliced sharply into the rock, leaving behind rugged dark cliffs that give the canyon its name. Unlike the Grand Canyon, Black Canyon is narrow and steep, and at some places visitors can look over the edge for heart-stopping views 2,000 feet straight down. The canyon itself stretches far beyond the park boundaries into the Curecanti National Recreation Area to the east and Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area to the west.
In addition to scenic vistas, the Black Canyon offers a number of activities for more adventurous travelers. Steep trails lead to the bottom of the canyon, and the wild river below offers great trout fishing for anglers. Rafters can float the Gunnison west of the park boundaries, and experienced kayakers may brave the dangerous waters that run through the park itself. The river within the park and within nearby Curecanti National Recreation Area are designated as Gold Medal Waters for fisherman.
A wide variety of wildlife can be seen in the Black Canyon area, from deer and elk to the yellow bellied marmot and several species of ground squirrels and chipmunks. Particularly on the isolated North Rim, the low traffic gives visitors a much better chance to see wildlife than at busier parks. Bird viewing is especially popular, with the canyon wren and several types of birds of prey including the Golden Eagle and Cooper's Hawk. During early spring and summer, look for the peregrine falcon, the fastest bird in the world, completing dives at speeds up to 200 mph near the Painted Wall.
There are few amenities within the park, but nearby Montrose provides a myriad of restaurants, hotels and activities.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is in western Colorado, about 80 miles southeast of Grand Junction and 200 miles west of Pueblo. To learn more about the park, select a topic of interest from the left-hand column.