We found it very interesting when we were talking to people about our trip and our stops along the way that no one that we talked to had heard of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It didn't really surprise us that people in Michigan didn't know what or were it was, but even friends and strangers we talked to in Colorado had never heard of Black Canyon and were shocked to learn that this National Park was in Colorado. Come on Coloradians (is that right?)!! There are other places than Maroon Bells West of Aspen. I know it isn't the largest National Park out there and one day really should give you plenty of time to visit this park, but it is impressive and slightly frightening.
Black Canyon holds the tallest cliff in Colorado at just over 2,000 feet has impressive drop offs that you can walk right up to the edge. We really couldn't catch the depth of the sharp and jagged rocks that lead straight down to the canyon bottom and the river that created it. You really have to visit this park to experience the vertigo inducing views.
There is a north and south entrance to the park, but the south entrance is the more popular and better kept entrance of the park. The parking lots and stop offs are not large and don't hold many cars compared to a lot of parks, so I have a feeling this park doesn't ever really get all that crowded. Which is a good thing since there is only 1 two lane road in and out of Black Canyon. There also aren't any really long hikes in this park and most of the best views can be seen in a short jaunt from the parking lot. There is a road that turns right near near the parks entrance booth, called the east portal that heads east down to the canyon bottom. Be cautious though this is a very steep road, 19% grade, but it has the best spot to access the river at the canyon bottom and if you like to fish the easiest spot to get to. It also has a small campground and great views for pictures from the bottom up.
We didn't end up staying at Black Canyon and decided to try and make up some ground so our trip to Canyonlands National Park wouldn't be so long the nest day. We stopped at Ridgway State Park and we have to say this was a great little find for a quick overnight camp spot. There are two main spots to camp in Ridgway and the Northern Most Camping Areas have a lot of tent sites set along the river in a wooded hill side. The start gazing was great with a huge lack of any light pollution.
-We could have spent more time in Black Canyon of the Gunnison, but felt like we got a good look at what the park had to offer. Don't feel bad if you can't stay overnight, but there may be a few hidden spots we missed.
-Don't pass on this park especially if you live in Colorado. Take a visit on your way to or from Telluride.
-If you are afraid of heights, feel free to stay away from the edge of some of the trails.
Next Stop: Canyonlands National Park and things heat up