Montrose, Colo. – The Black Canyon near Montrose, Colo., offers one of the steepest, darkest and most rugged canyon experiences in North America. National monument seekers, adrenaline junkies and geological geeks looking for a canyon less-traveled will find the perfect hangout among some of the oldest rock formations on Earth.
1. Canyon drama
The Gunnison River drops an average of 34 feet per mile through the entire canyon, creating the fifth- steepest mountain descents in North America. In comparison the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon drops an average of only 7.5 feet per mile. Black Canyon is also home to The Painted Wall, the tallest vertical wall in the state of Colorado. At a height of 2,250 feet The Painted Wall is 1,000 feet taller than the Empire State Building!
2. The “quiet” canyon
Black Canyon pulls in 100,000 visitors per year, compared to the one million that flood through the Grand Canyon each year. This means travelers will be much more likely to find space available in the campgrounds, on the trails and on the water. Moreover, Black Canyon lets travelers truly “get away from it all” with a more authentic canyon experience and less likelihood of being part of a “herd” of tourists.
3. More fun in the canyon
In summer the canyon offers world-class fishing, hiking, horseback riding, bird-watching, camping and many other adventures. Rock climbing, rafting and kayaking are also popular among the more experienced enthusiasts. For a more mellow outing, the Morrow Point boat tour is a guided, 42-passenger pontoon boat ride that glides along Morrow Point Reservoir through the upper canyon, offering a unique view of Black Canyon from below.
4. Ranger programs & events
The helpful and knowledgeable park rangers host a number of ranger-guided programs throughout the summer, including a Junior Ranger program for kids, campfire talks, guided hikes and more. Special events include the popular Astronomy Festival, held in August. The free festival is a partnership with the Black Canyon Astronomical Society and features solar gazing, star gazing and educational talks.
5. Smaller is better…and less expensive
Trekkers exploring Black Canyon will find a more manageable area to roam. At 2,700 feet deep and 53 miles long, it’s the perfect size for adventuring. Additionally, entrance and camping fees prove cheaper than at larger parks (visit the National Parks website for fee free days). The canyon’s remote and dramatic beauty make it a unique and satisfying destination for everyone.
6. Enjoy the wonderful Colorado weather
Black Canyon’s narrow depth results in the sun’s rays reaching the bottom for only a few minutes each day. Besides explaining the origin of the canyon’s name, this means cooler temps in the canyon. Temperatures below 90 in the summer and an average 274 days of sunshine per year add up to a more comfortable time outdoors for visitors. Black Canyon also enjoys Class I air quality classification as regulated by the Clean Air Act, creating greater visibility of the quiet canyon’s sweeping beauty.
From Montrose visitors can stop in at the South Rim Visitor Center for additional information from friendly park rangers; a free permit that is required for all backcountry and wilderness use; and exhibits, introductory film, publications and information on the guided tours.
Montrose is a uniquely-authentic town that has carved out a place for itself in the landscape and culture of Colorado. Montrose, a host city for the 2012 USA Pro Challenge, is the gateway to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison where the North Vista Trail was recently named a “Top 10 Canyon Hike in the U.S. Parks” by National Geographic. Additionally, Montrose was named to Outdoor Life’s annual list of the 200 best towns in America for outdoorsmen. Seventy-three percent of the land surrounding Montrose is public land, making it a Mecca for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, road biking, four-wheeling and mountain biking in the summer and fall and snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter.