5 Best Hikes You Need to Take at Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Visitors will find Black Canyon of the Gunnison located 7 miles north on CO Highway 347 from the intersection of U.S. Highway 50, east of Montrose.

The park features camping, hiking, fishing, scenic drives, wildlife watching, horseback riding and many other outdoor activities during the milder months of the year. During the winter months, cross country skiing and snowshoe trekking are popular activities.

Temperatures can vary greatly throughout the day. Summer daytime temperatures range between 55°F to 90°F with afternoon thunderstorms being common. Summer nights range between 45°F to 60°F. Winter daytime temperatures range between 15°F to 40°F and nights are 10°F to 20°F with frequent snowfall. 

Each year, visitors can take part in solar viewing and astronomy activities during the day and ranger talks, guest speaker programs, and telescope viewing each night as part of the Black Canyon Astronomy Festival.

Here are five of the most popular hikes you should try on your visit to Black Canyon of the Gunnison:


South Rim Trails

Hike #1: Oak Flat Loop Trail

For those looking for a challenging hike, the Oak Flat Loop Trail (built by Student Conservation Association volunteers) takes hikers below the rim without going all the way to the river. This trail is often narrow with steep slopes. Pets are not allowed.

Total Distance: 2 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: 311 feet

Difficulty: Strenuous 

Route Type: Loop

Other Info: The trail begins a short distance from the Visitor Center. From the Oak Flat Loop sign, follow the trail which leads right.

For more information visit AllTrails.


    Hike #2: Uplands Trail

    A great trail for seeing wildlife during the early morning or late evening—when they are most active. You’ll encounter a variety of mammals, birds, and lush vegetation as you take in the view of the West Elk Mountains. Pets are not allowed.

    Total Distance: 2.2 miles round trip

    Elevation Gain: 291 feet

    Difficulty: Easy 

    Route Type: Out & Back

    For more information visit AllTrails.


      Hike #3: Cedar Point Nature Trail

      An exciting hike leading to two overlooks offering spectacular views of the river from 2,000 feet. This trail is short, sunny, and moderately sloped with guideposts featuring fun facts about the vegetation along the way. You’ll also see the tallest cliff in Colorado, known as the Painted Wall, as well as large rock formations within the canyon. Leashed pets are welcome.

      Total Distance: 2/3 mile round trip

      Elevation Gain: 52 feet

      Difficulty: Easy 

      Route Type: Out & Back

      For more information visit AllTrails.


      North Rim Trails

      Hike #4: Green Mountain Summit via North Vista Trail

      You can follow this trail, constructed by volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, to Exclamation Point for a shorter hike, or go all the way to Green Mountain. Either way, you’ll enjoy some of the best scenic views in the park.The hike to Exclamation Point provides some of the best inner-canyon. Panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges await those who opt for the longer hike to Green Mountain. 

      Total Distance:  6.8 miles

      Elevation Gain: 1,230 feet

      Difficulty: Moderate to Exclamation Point; Strenuous to Green Mountain 

      Route Type: Out & Back

      Other Info: Trail starts at the North Rim Ranger Station


      For more information visit AllTrails.

      Hike #5: Deadhorse Trail

      Great for birding and views of Deadhorse Gulch and East Portal on the Gunnison River. Pets are not allowed. The trail is actually an old service road and will take hikers near a spring-fed pond and to the canyon's rim. No pets allowed.


      Total Distance: 5 miles round trip

      Elevation Gain: 561 feet

      Difficulty: Easy to moderate 

      Route Type: Loop

      Other Info: Park at the Kneeling Camel Overlook and walk a few yards east to a spur road that leads to the old Ranger Station.


      For more information visit AllTrails.


      General Park Information

      Bears go to great effort to obtain hikers' snacks. A bear that becomes habituated to humans and their food will ultimately need to be destroyed. Keep your backpack within arms reach at all times

      Many trails pass by steep drop-offs, so be cautious and keep a close watch on children.

      Hikers should be aware that limited cattle grazing is permitted on the North Rim. Please keep cattle gates closed should you encounter them.

      This park charges an entry fee.

      Cell phone service is non-existent or spotty and unreliable.