Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Scenic Driving

The South Rim Drive is seven miles from Tomichi Point to High Point, with ten overlooks in between. Most are reached by walking a short trail. Allow two to three hours to view several overlooks. Those with limited time should consider stopping at Gunnison Point, Pulpit Rock, Chasm View, and Sunset View. At Dragon Point, on the south rim, you can look across to the Painted Wall that rises a sheer 2,200 feet above the river. The visitor center, which features exhibits on the canyon, is located at Gunnison Point. It is open daily throughout the summer, and most days of the week the rest of the year.

The North Rim is reached by taking a gravel road from the east end of Crawford State Recreation Area. The North Rim Drive provides access to six overlooks. The canyon walls on the North Rim are almost vertical, offering some of the most impressive views found in the park. At the Narrows View, for example, the distance between the rims, 1,300 feet, is less than the depth of the canyon, 1,700 feet. Allow two to three hours for a leisurely tour. Information is available at the North Rim Ranger Station.

Those who wish to drive to the Gunnison River may do so by taking the East Portal Road (closed during winter). This provides access into Curecanti National Recreation Area where camping, picnicking, and fishing are available. The road is extremely steep (15-percent grades) with hairpin curves. Vehicles with an overall length (including trailer) greater than 22 feet are prohibited on the East Portal Road. Trailers may be unhitched and left at a parking area at the campground entrance. Another access, located at Cimarron (18 miles east via Highway 50), provides an alternate drive to the Gunnison River and Curecanti National Recreation Area.

Both the north and south rims have roads that take you to the very edge of the canyon. The drives are not connected. At the visitor center you can pick up a guide to the South Rim Road. The text tells what you can see at each overlook and which ones to be sure to see if you have a limited amount of time to spend in the park.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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