Visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park for more than 2 million years of history written into the sides of this dangerously steep, amazingly narrow, and ecologically rich canyon.

1. Pothole ecosystems are a tough way to live. 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison - OutThere Colorado.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Many organisms within Black Canyon of the Gunnison rely upon water pooled within crevices of rocks for drinking and reproducing. Colorado’s climate does not guarantee that these organisms will have plentiful water to maintain life. Some organism’s growth and maturity time is sped up to a mere 36 hours to allow for reproduction to ensure a continuation of the species.

2. The Gunnison River is old and alive. 

Gunnison River - OutThere Colorado.
Gunnison River.

While some organisms are fighting for their lives in the arid lands above the canyon, others are flourishing in riparian zones at the bottom of the canyon. It’s estimated that the Gunnison River has been cutting its way through this canyon for more than 2 million years. The evidence of times past can be seen in fossils high up on the sheer rock faces. Find plentiful fish and a lush landscape on the canyon floor.

3. Special use permits are required for large crowds. 

Black Canyon - dschnarrs - OutThere Colorado
The Painted Wall of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Photo Credit: dschnarrs (iStock).

With all of this stark beauty, many people find reasons to come to the park. Events such as weddings, large gatherings, classes, tours, and more will be considered and compared to current legislation for approved uses.

4. Uninvited guests are common. 

South Rim Campground - Black Canyon. Photo Credit: StewartMGreen - OutThere Colorado.
South Rim Campground in Black Canyon. Photo Credit: Stewart M. Green

While camping at Black Canyon of the Gunnison, remember you are in the wild. You must use the provided bear-proof storage lockers/boxes to store anything that smells of food while camping. Remember that bears that become habituated to human food will likely become a danger to visitors and have to be killed.

5. You can’t get there from here.

Black Canyon - Gunnison National Park - iagoarchangel - flickr
Black Canyon in the winter in Gunnison National Park. Photo credit: iagoarchangel (flickr)

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison has several entrances to the park, many are miles away from food.  It’s best to remember, if you are driving from one entrance to the other, there is no bridge across the canyon and it could take hours to get to another entrance. Plan your route ahead of time and be prepared!

6. Hiking in the canyon can be dangerous. 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison - OutThere Colorado.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

The hiking is amazing, but not all trails are recommended for all skill levels. Steep canyon walls and loose rocks on hikes going down to the river are recommended for advanced to expert hikers. The canyon is also known for its poison ivy. Make sure you can identify the itchy vine before you head out.  

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