38° 28' 41.95'' N 107° 52' 34.23'' W

Colorado’s Deepest Hole In the Ground: Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Aaron McHugh

In March 2017, my daughter and I road tripped to visit Colorado’s deepest hole in the ground, The Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Now a National Park, this rugged steep-walled river carved gorge is visited by less than 240,000 people each year, which is 95% fewer people than Grand Canyon National Park. You are guaranteed a peaceful, beautiful and uncrowded wilderness experience.

Go Deep

“No other canyon in North America combines the depth, narrowness, sheerness and somber countenance,” says geologist Wallace Hansen of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. It’s rumored that the deepest parts of the canyon receive only 30 minutes of sunlight each day.

Drive 12 miles into the park on South Rim Road to the dead end at High Point, and walk out to Warner Point. Plan two to three hours to explore the vertiginous overlooks. Stay overnight in the 88-spot South Rim Campground for $16 to $22 a night. nps.gov/blca

Next time

I want to hike the Inner Canyon and descent the gnarly routes down to the river bottom. I keep hearing dreamy stories of fly fishing the annual salmon fly hatch. I’m going back.

We woke to 2 inches of fresh snow. We ran out of water and the campground trucks in water for campers only during high season. We scrapped snow from the roof to melt for French press coffee.