Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, hidden gem in central Colorado
This deep, steep canyon literally hides beneath the state's surface, though the main park entrance is just 12 miles east of Montrose, Colorado. For two million years, the Gunnison River has been working at the earth here, resulting in a "vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky" that has been designated as a National Park since 1999 (it was known by the Ute and protected as a National Monument for many years before that as well). There are several entrances to the park and three choices of campgrounds, some of which accept reservations, the rest first come, first served. South Rim Campground is probably the most accessible, family-friendly choice, while North Rim is the more remote. Always ask if the local astronomy club will be setting up, to take advantage of some of the blackest skies in America. Also consider a boat tour of the upper Gunnison River and fishing in its Gold Medal Trout waters.
By Joshua Berman, AFAR Local Expert
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