Black Canyon of the Gunnison: South Rim Overlooks | Colorado | 05/02/21

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: South Rim Overlooks

Montrose, CO | 05/02/21

On my way home from Montrose, I wanted to stop at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Of Colorado’s four (4) National Parks, Black Canyon was the only one I hadn’t yet visited, so it was a high priority. Since Allie’s grandparents have lived in Montrose most of her life, she’d visited Black Canyon countless times, but she offered to come with and play tour guide. We didn’t have much time so we wouldn’t be able to hike, but we did spend an hour or two on the South Rim visiting a handful of scenic overlooks.

Tomichi Point view

We made a quick stop at Tomichi Point before moving on to the Visitor Center. Unfortunately, the exhibits were closed due to Covid. Disappointed, we walked past the building on the short trail to Gunnison Point. High above the Gunnison River, this overlook granted us our first glimpse deep into the canyon.

The Visitor Center from Gunnison Point
Gunnison Point view 1
Gunnison Point view 2

From the Visitor Center, we drove further into the park. The South Rim boasts twelve (12) overlooks, each different than the last. With a full day, I would have visited each overlook, but with our limited time, we had to pick and choose. I’ll admit that I rushed trying to see as much as possible. I don’t feel that I was able to really experience the park and what it has to offer. I found the canyon to be beautiful and rugged, but I need to spend more time there, hopefully next spring. I also hope to one day make the steep and strenuous trek down into the canyon.

Pulpit Rock view
Cross Fissures View 1
Cross Fissures View 2

Our final stop, the only one I felt I needed to visit, was the Painted Wall View. The Painted Wall is the tallest cliff in Colorado, measuring 2,300′ top to bottom. It’s generally considered one of the prettiest views in the park so of course I needed to see it for myself. Everyone else seemed to feel the same way, and the small parking lot was completely full when we pulled up. We continued along the South Rim Road before turning around at its end. Our fingers and toes were crossed that on our way back we would have a place to park to see the Painted Wall. All we needed was a single parking spot, but nearly the entire lot was empty when we arrived. Score!

Painted Wall View

The Painted Wall was the most scenic of the five (5) overlooks we visited, and is certainly worth the stop. I was disappointed that I couldn’t stay to explore more, but that just means I need to get back (and soon). On top of the South Rim overlooks and hiking trails that we missed, we also missed the entire North Rim and the East Portal. (And I can only hope that the Visitor Center will be open next time.) With so much more to see, it’s likely that I will be back sometime in the near future, and probably many more times after that.

I would like to acknowledge that Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is on the ancestral land of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute).


25 thoughts on “Black Canyon of the Gunnison: South Rim Overlooks | Colorado | 05/02/21

    1. Ken Goering

      I always share this anecdote about the Black Canyon: my wife and I camped at the bottom of the canyon probably 20 years ago, and it was one of the darkest skies I’ve ever seen. I saw the Andromeda Galaxy, which is about 2.5 million light years away, for the first time. We went to the Visitor Center the next morning and found out that the canyon started being carved by the Gunnison River (roughly) 2.5 million years ago, meaning the light that I saw from the canyon left the Andromeda Galaxy about the time that the canyon started being carved out.


  1. We visited Black Canyon this summer and stayed a night to camp before hiking the north rim the next morning. Defiantly worth it. I’ve got a couple of posts planned for it next month. Great photos!


  2. Wow those are quite the canyon views! Very impressive. Not sure I would want to get too close to those edges! That visitor center is certainly perched on top there nicely though.


  3. Wow, all of the views are spectacular but you must be glad you went to Painted Wall, it’s gorgeous. And all of this was seen on a drive not a hike!? Imagine what you can see once you get inside a bit more. Maggie


    1. All of the viewpoints we visited are just short walks from the road. It’s nice to be able to see beautiful sights without putting forth a ton of effort. But next time I’ll do some of the longer hikes, see if the views are any better there!

      Liked by 1 person

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