Before doing some research of things to see in Colorado, we had never heard of Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park! But, it sure looked like a must-see, so it was definitely on the list while we were in the area.
The park is only 45 minutes from our campsite in Ridgeway State Park (Pa Co Chu Puk). However, the entrance is also on Highway 50 which has some major closures for renovations stretching into 2022, and we couldn't find any clear info on exactly which section of 50 was closed and if it prohibited entrance to the park. So, we just headed in that direction and hoped for the best. Turns out, the roads to the park were uninhibited from the west side of 50 and they now have that information on the national park website.
At 47 square miles, it's a fairly small park as National Parks go, but it is absolutely stunning, and there are plenty of overlooks (12 in total) and trailheads along the South Rim Drive.
Ouray, Box Canyon Falls, and Cascade Falls
In part one of our stay in Ridgeway, CO, we rode through Ouray to get to the Million Dollar Highway. It looked like such a neat little ski town that we wanted to go back and explore it a bit. So, it made a perfect place to meet up with our friends Dan and Eva again to eat and take on some hikes!
After eating at Ouray Brewery, we drove up to hike Box Canyon Falls. It's $5.00 per person to get on the trail up to the falls and well worth it! Box Canyon Falls is a 285 feet waterfall, with quartzite walls that extend almost one hundred feet past the falls. There are three trails in the park that range from easy to moderately difficult.
From the top of the hike, we can see across the canyon to our next target, Cascade Falls!
The trailhead starts right in the parking lot and there are no fees for this hike. It's a very short hike to the bottom of the falls and a little bit of a climb up to the part where you can go behind the falls. This part of the hike is not for the acrophobic! There were also people hiking up the steep cliffs where there ar no paths, but that was NOT in our game plan!
There’s also the Perimeter Trail which is a 6-mile loop around the perimeter of Ouray. Along that trail are four waterfalls, five bridges, up close geology, and a hidden troll. Hiking the perimeter trail involves approximately 1,600 feet of elevation gain and loss and will typically take 4-5 hours to complete. We did not do this hike, but it seemed like a good way to see a lot in a day.
We really enjoyed our time in the Ridgway area and Colorado in general. What a beautiful state!
Next up in our travels is Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon in Utah!
- Black Canyon Of The Gunnison: www.nps.gov/blca/index.htm
- Box Canyon Falls: www.ci.ouray.co.us/city_offices/city_resources/box_canon_waterfalls_vs2.php
- Cascade Waterfalls: www.ci.ouray.co.us/city_offices/city_resources/cascade_waterfalls.php