There are few pleasures greater than getting away from it all in a beautiful location, and there are fewer landscapes and wildernesses more breathtaking than the terrain of Colorado. Even more enticing, away from the crowds of Aspen, Vail, and other heavily-visited spots, is a breathtaking place on the Western Colorado Range called the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Visitors to this park will delight in the unique beauty of Western Colorado, with plenty of activities for any adventurer or nature-lover. To enjoy Colorado is to camp in Colorado. Anyone looking for the comfort of a camper with a nature-infused experience will find that RVing to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park will be an experience of a lifetime.
Located in Western Colorado, approximately two hours south of Grand Junction, this national park hosts a stunning canyon made up of some of the craggiest spires in North America. The dramatic geology was formed over two million years through volcanic activity and the powerful Gunnison River shaping and carving the canyon.
The deepest point of the canyon is Warner Point, at 2,722 feet deep, while the narrowest width is at the appropriately named Narrows, at only 40 feet wide. The total length of the Black Canyon is 48 miles, while the length of the canyon going through the park is 14 miles.
With the raging river at the bottom, the majestic walls, and the sprawling frontier at the rim, the Black Canyon offers plenty for photographers, hikers, rafters, climbers, and adventurers of all kinds.
The Black Canyon is open year-round, so both cold-weather adventurers and warm-weather worshippers have choices depending on their preferred activities.
However, winter visitors will want to check the park website for alerts and road closures. Also, please note that there is no water available in the winter months, so visitors must come prepared with their water supplies. Winter visitors should check for alerts and advisories before arriving.
For those who want full access to the park, a summer or fall visit between April and November is a must. This is when all roads are open. Note, however, that summer is not synonymous with warm weather in Colorado. In fact, plan on beautiful sunny days possibly punctuated with rain or snow flurries, and be prepared with clothing layers no matter what time of year you visit.
For those who feel drawn to a serene snowshoe trek, cross-country skiing, or ice climbing, the Black Canyon offers all of this with stunning winter landscapes in the colder months.
Just remember that if you’re renting an RV you should familiarize yourself with the vehicle to ensure maximum comfort and safety during your adventures!
Get The Latest Tourist Information Before You Go RVing To The Park
Visitors can stop by the South Rim Visitor Center year-round, which is located 7 miles north on CO Highway 347 from the intersection with U.S. Highway 50. The GPS coordinates are N 38.5550 W -107.6866.
South Rim Visitor Center Hours:
- Winter Hours (November to mid-March): Open daily from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Temporary weather closures are possible.
- Spring Hours (mid-March to April): Open daily from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
- Summer Hours (May to October): Open daily from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.
South Rim Drive Information
The South Rim drive is famously scenic and usually open from mid-April to November, weather permitting. During the winter, the South Rim Road is open up to Gunnison Point at the visitor center. After the visitor center, the road isn’t accessible for vehicles. However, it’s still accessible to snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
North Rim and East Portal Information
The North Rim Ranger Station and road and East Portal are closed to visitors in the winter.
There Are Lots Of Things To Do At The Park
The Gunnison River is a popular whitewater rafting destination during the warmer summer months. Rafting is not possible in the canyon as the rapids are considered Class V and very technical. Please contact any of the local outfitters to find out more and plan your trip while you cruise America.
If you’re an expert kayaker, you can kayak in the Black Canyon. Make sure you study the details of the river run and be certain your skill level is up for the highly-technical, challenging adventure.
The park offers a variety of hikes ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous. You can learn more here. Please note that weather changes quickly, so dress in layers and bring plenty of water.
Feel like enjoying the beauty from the comfort of your RV or car? There are plenty of scenic drives that will not disappoint.
Rams, wild horses, birds, deer, elk, bears, mountain lions, marmots, and more: the Black Canyon has it all. Animal lovers can learn more about when animals are active, where to look for them, and best safety practices by reading more here.
What’s more Western than exploring Colorado by horseback? The Black Canyon offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy its majestic scenery atop a majestic animal. Learn more and plan your horseback riding excursion here.
One of the advantages when you go RVing, is that you’ll have comfortable shelter even when camping during the winter months. The Black Canyon offers plenty of winter activities to keep you occupied before you return to a cozy camper at night. Whether you want to ice climb, cross-country ski, or go snowshoeing, you’re sure to find some cold-weather fun-in-the-snow activities. Learn more here.
Follow These Camping Tips
Grab your RV rental and get ready. The Black Canyon has some beautiful camping options.
South Rim Campground
The South Rim campground has 88 sites, 23 of them with electric hook-ups, and is open year-round. All sites allow RVs. Just be sure to note quiet hours if you need to use a generator, and remember that water is not available during the winter months, so campers must come prepared.
You can make reservations for mid-May to mid-September here; for the rest of the year, campsites are first-come, first-served.
Campground amenities include:
- Food storage lockers
- Trash/recycling collection
- Amphitheater (seasonal)
- Staff or volunteer host on-site (seasonal)
- Potable water (seasonal)
- Vault toilets (year-round)
North Rim Campground
This more remote campground has 13 sites nestled among Juniper trees. It’s closed from November 15 through May 15 of every year. When we say remote, we mean it’s time to get away from it all, as most cell phones will not get reception here. It is first-come, first-served, and amenities are limited. Please note that the maximum combined length of RV, car, and trailer is 22 feet. There are no hook-ups, so be sure to study up on dry camping for your RV rental to ensure you’re well prepared for your serene getaway. There are vault toilets available.
Learn more details about the North Rim Campground here.
East Portal Campground
According to the National Park Service website:
“The East Portal Campground is located within Curecanti National Recreation Area but is adjacent to and only accessible from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, where the entrance fee is $30. The campground is located at the bottom of the canyon, along the Gunnison River. It is a small campground shaded by box elder trees. East Portal is closed in winter when the Bureau of Reclamation closes the East Portal Road.”
Please note that vehicles exceeding 22 feet in length are not allowed on East Portal Road due to the steep grade and winding roads. This campground is typically open from May to mid-October as long as the weather permits. Qll sites are first-come, first-served. There are no hook-ups for RV camping, but RVs are allowed.
Learn more details about the East Portal Campground here.
In park camping:
RV Parks Near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
If you cannot make a reservation for camping in the park on your planned road trip dates or do not want to compete with the first-come, first-serve crowd, you’ll find plenty of RV parks with great amenities near Black Canyon. They make great options for anyone renting an RV and ready to cruise America.
P.S. Ready To Cruise America With RVnGO?
If you’re ready to discover what an RV rental can offer when visiting our nation’s great national parks, start planning your trip and find the right RV for your adventure at RVnGO!
Check out America’s Top 20 National Parks for Your Summer Vacation. There are 19 other fabulous national parks to visit when you go RVing! Check them out.