South Rim: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park


From the Cottonwood Pass we made our was to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park along US-50. We drove some beautiful and empty parts of Colorado. There isn’t much around Black Canyon and we had reservation to camp there. On day one of our visit to the Black Canyon we stayed on the South Rim. This rim is easier to get to and is the more popular of the two. It is a two hour drive from the south rim of the canyon to the north rim.

Tips for visiting:

  • Make sure you have plenty of snacks with you as there are no close stores except the gift shop.
  • Bring plenty of water. There are a couple of water bottle refilling stations but they are few and far between.
  • There are a couple of different types of camping spots:
    • Reserved
    • First Come, First Serve
  • There are restrooms but there are no showers in the park.
  • To hike down into the canyon you have to have a Wilderness Use Permit.

We started at the visitor center and spoke to the park rangers to get sunset and sunrises times along with the best place in the park to watch the sunset and take astral photography shots. The people that work at the park are a wonderful wealth of information. They also offer ranger led programs but the spaces were all booked when we arrived.

From the visitor center we found our campsite and got everything set up before exploring the park. The way that most people experience the part is to view it from the dozen or so overlooks along the canyon rim. We had the time and did our best to visit them all and reached Sunset View Overlook with time to eat a little dinner before grabbing a spot to enjoy the sunset. This is a popular sunset spot so make sure to get there about an hour early – the parking lot fills up fast. One of my favorite things about Black Canyon is that it is a dark sky park. After watching the sunset we headed to an overlook that was set a little back into the trees. Then we waited, it takes a bit to get dark enough to take pictures of the Milky-Way. The experience was worth it though.

We had a short night. After stargazing we headed back to our tent and slept until 5am and then we were up in time to catch the sunrise. Again, thank you to the park rangers for letting us know the best places and when to be there. I was not a happy camper getting up that early but it was worth it.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison is an under rated national park. It is breathtaking and has a lot to offer, both during the day and after dark. I do want to go back – I have a lot more stargazing to do. Have you ever visited the Black Canyon? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comment. Leave no trace and safe travels!

Thank you KW Photography for allowing me to use your wonderful photos!

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