Colorado, Travel

postcard from black canyon of the gunnison national park

Have you heard of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?

Noooo, you say? I hadn’t either — not until last month when I liiiiiiterally found it by accident and consequently had my mind blown forever. Isn’t it the coolest when you’re casually driving through the magical nature wonderland that is southwest Colorado and you stumble upon YET ANOTHER magical nature wonderland in the form of an under-the-radar US national park that you’ve never even heard of? (East coast problems?)


Making my way back to Boulder from Telluride, I fueled up in the town on Montrose, made small talk with an elderly gentleman with a Pennsylvania license plate at the gas station, and hit the road. Just a few miles outside of the town, I saw a sign pointing to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park that caught my attention. “Wut? Wut is this?” I thought. I turned left.

The National Park Service says it best: “Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky.”

Uhhhhhhh, overwhelming? GOT THAT RIGHT.

The drive back to Boulder would be long, but this was gonna be good. So with no idea what to expect, into the park I drove. And at the first scenic overlook, I understood what this place was all about. I was right – IT WAS TOTALLY GONNA BE GOOD.


I spent 2-3 hours driving through the park, stopping at scenic overlooks, walking out through the little trails, taking photos and soaking in the warm late-September Colorado sunshine out in the great outdoors.


(Look closely for my salamander pal.)



After some time, I headed back in the direction of the entrance of the park where there was a fork in the road. I took the road I hadn’t taken the first time around, and this time was lead down through the depths of the canyon. Once I reached the bottom, I went for a little riverside stroll:



I was only able to explore a fraction of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, but I’m so glad I spotted the sign and had the time to see what I could see. It was such an unexpected pitstop, and what greater way to spend a sunny Sunday than to meander around a totally unfamiliar, totally other-worldly natural national park in your very own state? America is the coolest, and this trip to BCGNP only sparked more of desire within me to see more of our national parks.

Have you been to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park? What’s your favorite national park?

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  • Reply Laura (PA Pict)

    What a wonderful detour. It’s always great to come across unexpected treasures when traveling.

    November 9, 2015 at 6:26 am
    • Reply Kristen

      I agree 100%. One of the best parts of being on the go is discovering things you didn’t plan on seeing.

      November 10, 2015 at 10:17 am
  • Reply Dee Gilbert

    One of my favorite photos that I took is a shot taken there Fall of 2012. It’s a beautiful place.

    November 9, 2015 at 8:14 am
    • Reply Kristen

      Beautiful for sure!

      November 10, 2015 at 10:19 am
  • Reply Meghan

    I thought Black Canyon was really impressive too! I also had never heard of it until I was route planning a drive across Colorado. Beautiful photos!!

    November 9, 2015 at 9:03 am
    • Reply Kristen

      There’s just so much to see in Colorado! Thank you 🙂

      November 10, 2015 at 10:20 am
  • Reply acquiescent72

    I love that part of Colorado! Some amazing scenery for sure!

    November 9, 2015 at 12:25 pm
    • Reply Kristen

      I wish I had spent more time exploring that area of the state! It was out of this world!!!

      November 10, 2015 at 10:19 am
      • Reply acquiescent72

        There’s always next time, right? 😀

        November 10, 2015 at 10:51 am
        • Reply Kristen

          True! I could never get tired of exploring Colorado 🙂

          November 10, 2015 at 11:35 am
          • acquiescent72

            Obviously, being a native, I could not agree with you more! 😛

            November 10, 2015 at 11:42 am
  • Reply Hannah Myer

    What a fun discovery!! lol at that photo of you in your rearview mirror.

    November 9, 2015 at 8:32 pm
    • Reply Kristen

      SO fun! LOL a little selfie action. Proof that I was actually there.

      November 10, 2015 at 10:20 am
  • Reply Margie

    These pictures are beautiful. The scenery in Colorado is truly spectacular. I think I may need to visit it again, someday!

    November 12, 2015 at 11:22 am
    • Reply Kristen

      I’ll go with you!!!

      November 12, 2015 at 11:33 am
  • Reply skyward eyes - Roadtripping: Boulder, CO to Albuquerque, NM

    […] Postcard from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park […]

    December 9, 2016 at 6:55 am
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