Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

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  • Website link: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  • Cost: $20.00 per vehicle
  • Campgrounds available in the park.
  • Hiking, climbing, rafting, scenic drives, and fishing available in the park.
  • Hotels and restaurants available in Montrose, Colorado, 20 minutes west, via Highway 50.
  • When to go: Anytime. We recommend May through September. Some park roads close during the winter months.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is probably one of the least crowded national parks we have visited so far, and we don’t know why. We were in awe of the park’s extraordinary features, especially the depth and beauty of the canyon itself. This is a wonderful park! As with all of our national parks, it definitely deserves a visit.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is approximately:

228 miles from Colorado Springs, Colorado250 miles from Denver, Colorado73 miles from Grand Junction, Colorado

This trip is going to start from Grand Junction, Colorado. The city does not have a major airport, but it does have a regional airport that is served by several national and regional carriers.

*Recommended hotels in Grand Junction: Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express.

*Recommended restaurant in Grand Junction: El Tapatio – 1145 North Ave. – fantastic Mexican food.

Now, we’re off to Black Canyon of the Gunnison! Grab a backpack and your hiking shoes. Get ready for fabulous scenery, dizzying heights, and a bonus destination that is going to knock your socks off. Let’s go!

Getting There

From Grand Junction, take Highway 50 south to Montrose, Colorado. Continue east on Highway 50 to Highway 92 north to the park entrance and South Rim Drive.

*Recommended hotel in Montrose: Holiday Inn Express.

*Recommended restaurant in Montrose: Camp Robber – 1515 Ogden Rd.

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Colorado Sunrise

 

For those traveling from Gunnison, Colorado, take Highway 50 west via Curecanti National Recreation Area to Highway 92 north to the park entrance.

Destination: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Stop at the visitor center to get information about the park and to access the trail to the Gunnison Point overlook. Spectacular views and unlimited photo ops. Then take South Rim Drive for more spectacular scenery. Travel tip: there are other ways to see the canyon and the park besides from South Rim Drive. Click the website above for details about the North Rim, the East Portal, and hiking trails.

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The Gunnison River and Black Canyon as seen from Gunnison Point
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Canyon View
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Painted Wall

Bonus Destination: Curecanti National Recreation Area – Morrow Point

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From Montrose, Colorado or Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, take Highway 50 east to Curecanti National Recreation Area. At mile marker 130 take the Pine Creek turnoff and proceed to the parking lot. Drive time between Montrose and Curecanti NRA: 1 hour.

We’re taking a boat tour on Morrow Point Resevoir in the Black Canyon! But first we have to get there. Get ready for a fantastic hike.

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Travel tips:

  • Bring a picnic lunch, snacks, plenty of water, sunscreen, sturdy hiking shoes, and a hat. Dress for the weather.
  • Allow one hour to hike the trail to the boat dock. There are 232 steps leading down to the trail, and then another (easy) mile to the dock.
  • The park ranger-guided tour lasts approximately 1.5 hours.
  • Advance reservations needed.
  • Campgrounds available at Curecanti National Recreation Area.
  • Here’s a link to the website: Curecanti NRA.

Below are a few of our favorite shots.

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Chipeta Falls
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Stunning Scenery on Still Water
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Rocky Reflection

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There is a lot to see and do in Western Colorado. Curecanti NRA has plenty of campsites available, and we hear that the trout and salmon fishing is great in its three lakes. At left is a shot of Blue Mesa Reservoir, and Dillon Pinnacles.

After you have enjoyed your time at these parks, head back to Montrose, and take Highway 550 south to the scenic town of Ouray. Continue on south to Silverton and then Durango via the San Juan Skyway, one of the most scenic drives in the U.S. Or, head north from Montrose back to Grand Junction, and check out Colorado National Monument.

That is our trip to Black Canyon of the Gunnison and the Morrow Point Boat Tour. We enjoyed sharing our trip with you. Our hope is that our trip gives you some ideas on how to plan your own vacation adventure in Western Colorado. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Grand Canyon National Park

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  • Website link: Grand Canyon National Park.
  • Cost: $35.00 per car
  • Accommodations in the park: Lodges at the north and south rims. Campgrounds at the north and south rims.
  • Backcountry camping available.
  • Mule trips available at both rims.
  • Day hiking and many longer trails available.
  • Commercial and non-commercial river rafting trips available.
  • Restaurants, deli’s, stores available at both rims.
  • When to go: South Rim – anytime. North Rim is closed during the winter months.

For years, we shied away from Grand Canyon National Park. “Who wants to look at a big hole?” we would say, but then while on another trip, we decided to go. We arrived at the South Rim and were terribly disappointed when our first view was of…nothing! Zip, zilch, nada – no big hole at all! Turns out the canyon was experiencing a fairly rare weather phenomenon called an inversion. The entire canyon was full of gray clouds, which is kind of great now that we know we have witnessed a rare phenomenon, but it was disappointing at the time.

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Yep, this ↑ was our first ever view of the Grand Canyon. And to make matters worse, we were not prepared for high wind and torrential rain! (We are much better prepared travelers now, thankfully.) Finally, the storm blew past, the sun came out, and our trip was saved. Once we saw the breathtaking scenery, we couldn’t believe that we had been so stubborn about going. The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Everyone should see this park.

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Getting There

Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim) is approximately:

230 miles from Phoenix, Arizona280 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada410 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico

We are starting our trip in Phoenix, Arizona. Stock up on your road snacks, and let’s get going!

*Recommended hotels in Phoenix: Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn.

From Phoenix, take I-17 north to Flagstaff.

Bonus stop: Sedona, Arizona. Beautiful red rock scenery, lots to see and do. Great city to visit! (See our post about Sedona.)

At Flagstaff, take US Highway 180 to Highway 64. Take Highway 64 north to Grand Canyon National Park. Drive time between Phoenix, Arizona and Grand Canyon National Park: 3.75 hours.

⇒Alternate route: take a two hour and fifteen minute train from Williams, Arizona to the South Rim. The train leaves Williams daily at 9:30 am.

Destination: Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)

All of the roads on the south rim can be driven in your own vehicle, however, it is so much better for you (and for the park) to take the free hop-on hop-off shuttles. There is so much to see and do in this part of the park, you could stay for days and never see it all. With that said, we are only going to to be able to give you a taste of what you will see at the south rim.

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Hopi House at Grand Canyon Village (South Rim). Originally a workshop for making and selling Native American arts and crafts. Built in 1905.
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Historic El Tovar Hotel in Grand Canyon Village (South Rim). Wonderful food in the dining room here. Opened in 1905 as a Harvey House, and is now a National Historic Landmark.
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View of the Colorado River meandering through the Grand Canyon
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Desert View Watchtower (South Rim)
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Ceiling Artwork In Desert View Watchtower

While visiting (or before you go), you may want to learn about Mary Colter. She is the architect who designed many of the historic buildings at the South Rim, including Hopi House and Desert View Watchtower, among others. Her story is extremely inspirational, especially for young women and girls, as Mary Colter was a woman who was decades ahead of her time. While you’re at it, pick up a copy of The Harvey Girls – Women Who Opened the West, a wonderful book by Lesley Poling-Kempes. The book tells the story of the women who for years catered to travelers in many historic locations, including El Tovar Hotel and Bright Angel Lodge in Grand Canyon National Park. Very interesting read.

Now, let’s go to the the North Rim!

Getting There

The North Rim is approximately:

123 miles from Page, Arizona210 miles from the South Rim265 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada

We will start this trip from Page, Arizona since it is the closest city with an airport, though it is a small municipal airport with mainly tour and commuter type services.

*Recommended hotel in Page: Hampton Inn.

*Recommended restaurant in Page: El Tapatio – 25 S Lake Powell Blvd.

Campgrounds available in and around Page.

Travel tip: While in Page, check out the many activities this area has to offer, including Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam, or take a side trip to Monument Valley.

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Bison near the North Rim entrance

From Page, take US Highway 89 south for 2 miles. Bonus stop: Horseshoe Bend. Hike to the scenic viewpoint above the Colorado River for a breathtaking view. Be prepared for parking issues, large crowds, and high heat. Take water and good hiking shoes/boots.

Continue on US Highway 89 for 39 miles to Navajo Bridge. This is a very scenic drive to Marble Canyon, Navajo Bridge, and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.

Bonus stop: Navajo Bridge/Marble Canyon. Stop at the interpretive center for information about the area. The original Navajo Bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. Look for rare California condors along the Colorado River in beautiful Marble Canyon.

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Navajo Bridge and Vermillion Cliffs
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Marble Canyon view of the Colorado River from Navajo Bridge

Continue on US Highway 89 to Highway 67. Turn south at Jacob Lake, Arizona to Grand Canyon National Park. Drive time between Page, Arizona and North Rim: 2.5 hours. Drive time between Jacob Lake, Arizona and North Rim: 1 hour.

  • North Rim Website link: North Rim Grand Canyon.
  • Cost: $35.00 per car.
  • Accommodations: Grand Canyon Lodge and one campground located inside park.
  • Alternative camping available outside the park
  • Dining services available in the park.
  • North Rim has fewer crowds than South Rim.
  • When to go: May through October.

Destination: Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim)

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Stop at the visitor center for information about the park, then head to the patio at the Grand Canyon Lodge for exceptional views of the canyon. You might even get up close and personal with a cute little chipmunk, but remember: it is illegal to feed any wildlife.

Hike the trail to Bright Angel Point for the spectacular views. Or, drive the park roads to the other viewpoints at the North Rim. See the park map at the website link above.

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North Rim View

 

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View from Point Imperial (North Rim)

With everything there is to do and see at Grand Canyon National Park, it is easy to see why more than five million people visit the park annually. If you have never been to the Grand Canyon, we hope that you are now inspired to go see this amazing park. (Don’t be like we were and keep putting it off.) This is a fantastic vacation destination for the entire family! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye  

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018