Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located in Western Colorado near the town of Montrose. Check out these six locations in the park to get the best views and photos.
1. Gunnison Point
This is the easiest place to get a fantastic view because it’s just down from the Visitor Center. Take the stairs and go out to the overlook. You’re essentially on a little peninsula of rock here with great views all around or taking a picture of someone at the railing by standing up on the stairs above. This illustrates that there’s really no bad place to get a great view here, but you’ll have to work a little harder for the others, so read on…
2. Looking Down From Rim Rock Trail
This trail is pretty easy and flat and runs along the canyon, so you get prolonged views of the river and steep canyon walls. Take pictures anywhere you like at various angles. We hardly encountered anyone on this trail and had lots of opportunity to soak in the views every step of the way.
3. The Painted Wall
This is the most iconic wall in the park in my opinion. It is the highlight of the park, though even without this wall this park would still shine like a jewel! When you think of the Black Canyon and the dark color of the volcanic and metamorphic rock (gneiss and schist) that comprises the walls and the white veins of pegmatite throughout, this wall gives you that epic view. My tip for you here is to not only go to the Painted Wall View lookout and then skip the next couple because you’re in a hurry and figured you’ve already seen the wall. No, stop at Cedar Point. You will have way fewer people there and in my opinion a better more dead-on view of the wall. But this wall is so amazing you may want to take some fantastic shots from every overlook and angle possible!
4. Down by the River (East Portal)
For those of us who aren’t going to be hiking down to the river, consider driving down via the East Portal. The road is steep and windy, but the perspective is so worth it. Being able to easily get down to the river via car is a huge benefit but so few people seemed to be taking advantage of this during our visit. Even if it’s just a brief detour, take the time to drive to the end and back. After that don’t just leave though; park your car, get out and stare up in wonder, then take that fantastic picture.
5. On the Other Side (North Rim)
Even less traveled, the North Rim does take some time to get to as it’s a long drive around. If you have the time, it’s worth it. Expend just a little bit of energy and walk the short Chasm View Nature Trail. Didn’t I tell you above that any view you can get of the Painted Wall is a fantastic one? Well here is another one! You can also wave to the folks across the way at Chasm View overlook, only 1,100 feet away.
6. Warner Point
Though you will see amazing views elsewhere for much less effort, I’m recommending this hike and this view because it’s a bit different than anywhere else. You can see the end of the canyon and out across the plains. It’s fun to see the river continue onward and picture its continuing adventure as it flows into the distance.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of the lesser visited national parks. Don’t miss out on this park like so many folks do if they only go to Rocky Mountain National Park. Take a trip to the Black Canyon on your next vacation in Colorado!
And if you like canyons, you can’t miss this post about the Grand Canyon National Park either!