Although Black Canyon of the Gunnison is the least-visited National Park in Colorado, it nevertheless ranks with some heavy-hitting stats that make it one of the most unique destinations in the United States. If you’re wondering what’s so special about Black Canyon of the Gunnison, or if it’s even worth visiting, look no further. We’re about to share the most fascinating and unusual facts about Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park that will make you want to book a trip STAT!
Black Canyon of the Gunnison Basic Facts At-A-Glance
- Location: Montrose, Colorado
- Entrance fee: $30 per private vehicle for 7 days. TIP: You can now purchase your entrance pass online.
- Acreage: 30,750 acres
- Annual visitors:
- Altitude: 7,000 feet above sea level
- Best Time to Visit: Spring and Fall to avoid hot summers and snowy winters
If you plan to visit 3 or more national parks in a 12-month period, you can save money by buying the America the Beautiful Pass, also known as the national parks pass or interagency pass. This pass will grant you free entrance to thousands of sights throughout the United States.
10 Fascinating Facts About Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
1. Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of the deepest canyons in the US
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of the deepest canyons in the United States, with a maximum depth of 2,722 feet (823 m). That’s taller than the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Among canyons in the United States, only Zion Canyon (3000 feet) and the Grand Canyon (6093 feet) are deeper! To see the deepest point of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, head to Warner Point!
2. The Painted Wall in Black Canyon is the tallest cliff in Colorado
The Black Canyon is home to the tallest cliff in Colorado, and third tallest cliff in the lower 48 of the United States. Painted Wall, which stands 2,250 feet from rim to river, is 1,000 feet taller than the Empire State Building.
3. Black Canyon is one of the narrowest canyons in the US
The Black Canyon is also one of the narrowest canyons in the United States, with a width of only 40 feet (12 m) at its narrowest point. The average width of the canyon is about 1,100 feet, which is tiny compared to the Grand Canyon, which is 16 MILES wide in some places.
4. The canyon rarely sees sunlight due to its steep walls and narrow width
The canyon is named for its dark appearance, which is partly caused by the steep walls and lack of sunlight. The canyon’s dark rock appearance is also due to the fact that its walls are composed of igneous and metamorphic rocks that are rich in iron and magnesium. These rocks absorb sunlight, making the canyon appear dark even in bright daylight.
5. One of the fastest-flowing rivers in the US carved Black Canyon
The Gunnison River, which carved the canyon, is one of the fastest-flowing rivers in the United States. The Black Canyon’s depth was carved out over millions of years by the mighty Gunnison River, which descends at an average rate of 43 feet per mile, making the river itself 6 times steeper than the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.
6. Black Canyon is home to diverse wildlife
The canyon is home to a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and peregrine falcons. The park’s high altitude and varied terrain provide a home for a wide range of animals, from the small and furry to the large and majestic.
Some of the most common animals seen in the park include bighorn sheep, which can be seen grazing on the cliffsides, and mountain goats, which are more likely to be seen on the rocky slopes. Mule deer and elk are also common, and can be seen in the meadows and forests. Coyotes and foxes are often seen at dusk and dawn, and marmots can be seen sunning themselves on the rocks.
7. Black Canyon is a stargazer’s dream
The night sky in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of the darkest in the United States. The canyon is a popular spot for stargazing, as the lack of light pollution makes it an ideal place to view the night sky. The canyon is a designated International Dark Sky Park, meaning it has very little light pollution, making it an ideal place to view the stars. On a clear night, you can see the Milky Way, constellations, and even planets.
8. Black Canyon’s rocks are the oldest exposed rocks in the continent
The canyon’s rocks are some of the oldest exposed rocks in North America, dating back to about 1.8 billion years ago. The canyon’s walls are made up of Precambrian metamorphic and igneous rocks, which are some of the oldest rocks in North America.
9. Humans have known about – and avoided – Black Canyon for 10,000 years
The first known human presence in the area of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park dates back at least 10,000 years ago with the Ute people who lived in the southwest in what is now Utah and Colorado. The canyon is obviously not a very liveable place, and the Ute people actually avoided hunting near the rim out of superstition. It’s said they referred to the canyon and the Gunnison River below as “much rocks, big water.” Yep, sounds about right!
10. Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of only 4 National Parks in Colorado
Black Canyon of the Gunnison didn’t become a national park until 1999, having been a designated national monument since 1933. Now, it sits among Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes, and Rocky Mountain National Parks in Colorado.
Summary of Fascinating Facts About Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a truly fascinating place, and it is home to some of the most amazing natural features in the United States. From its deep and narrow canyon to its colorful rocks and its dark skies, the park is a place of beauty and wonder.
Hopefully these fascinating facts have convinced you to make Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park a part of your Colorado road trip. If so, check out our guide to the best hikes in the park to help you plan your time there!