The original plan for the day was to drive from Silverton to Lake City via Cinnamon Pass, but the weather looked sketchy and we decided to drive around the long way. So, our visit to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park was very last minute. In fact, I completely forgot that we’d be driving right by the park before we turned onto US-50E out of Montrose. Once we saw the sign, we both decided that a visit to Black Canyon was well worth the small detour. Both Elizabeth and I had been there before, but Black Canyon is really scenic and drew us in easily. Plus, we bought an annual national parks pass, so it wasn’t any additional cost to get into the park!
We were using the day as a rest day to save our legs to hike up Uncompahgre Peak the next day, so we didn’t do any of the hikes in Black Canyon on this visit. I can’t remember if I’ve hiked on the trails around Black Canyon on prior visits, but the number of trails is relatively limited. There are at least a few different trails which are under three miles to enjoy though. I believe there are some far more challenging trails as well, but I can’t really add anything to that discussion given my knowledge right now.
Skipping the trails, aside from quick jaunts to viewpoints, worked out just fine on our visit though as they provide great vantage points! We drove down to the East Portal area to check out the canyon as the river level as well. We didn’t spend long down at the river, but it was very pretty with the colors changing early this year. Here are some views looking down over 2,000ft to the canyon floor. Painted Wall is actually the highest cliff in Colorado at 2,250 feet as well. While Black Canyon is among the least visited national parks, it is well worth a visit and adding onto your trip.
While you’re in the area, you might consider checking out the three reservoirs of the Curecanti National Recreation area as well! We just drove by on the way to Lake City, but there are a bunch of campsites there as well.