The East Portal Campground is located within Curecanti National Recreation Area, but is adjacent to and only accessible from Black Canyon National Park. The campground is located at the bottom of the canyon, along the Gunnison River. It is a small, tent-only campground shaded by box elder trees. East Portal is closed in winter, when the Bureau of Reclamation closes the East Portal Road.
Two general areas to camp - one in a more open setting with more sun, and one in a shaded area that has a pinch more privacy. We stayed in the latter. Unfortunately, there were no sites right by the river.
FYI - Put your car in low gear going down into the canyon. I had a jeep and didn't and I could smell the pungent smell of my brakes burning up.
Apparently, there is good fly fishing by the campsite too.
I've hesitated on if I wanted to post a review about this site or not. It's such a great site that not many seem to know about and sometimes you just want to keep those hidden/sorta secret sites to yourself. But since there is already another review guess I will add mine as well.
By far my most favorite site I've ever camped. It's quite the experience being able to camp at the bottom of this canyon after seeing it from the top side. The river is close for fly fishing, there is no RV's, mostly tent or van/truck camping due to the road being restricted to vehicles under 22'. There is a 16% grade and extremely sharp and narrow curves.
There is only 15 sites in two locations. One is a drive in and has about 8 sites. The other was closed when I arrived but looked like very nice sites as well. Only pit toilets in both and I saw no working water so bring in what you are going to need.
Saw and heard lots of wildlife. Deer for sure and a few bald eagles, the other critters heard and not saw, well who knows but mostly birds. There are bear boxes on site.
Picnic tables and fire rings.
I'm sure as the snow/cold weather comes in this campsite will be closed down due to road conditions so double check before planning a trip to be sure it's open.
And to top it off the fishing here is amazing. So many open areas to climb down to the river and just fish away with no crowds. It was magical! and then to have a Bald eagle watching you, couldn't ask for a better experience!
One last thing, you are at the bottom of the canyon so it is in the shade quite often so meaning it is a bit cooler down there than at the top.
We were thrilled to find this primitive camping area right by the river. There are fifteen spots, 7 of those have drive in access, the other 8 are a park and walk down a small embankment - but oh, what a setting - set in a grove of trees, it was beautiful. There are picnic tables, bathrooms and the roar of the river to sleep next too.
This campground is right at the edge of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, but because you take a steep, twisty ride down to the river, the elevation went from over 9000 to under 7000, a welcome change if you aren't acclimated to the altitude. We set up our OzTent on the upper level (the drive in section) and took a walk. The historical displays are well done, be sure to visit the Visitor Center at the National Park to get the rest of the story, and regardless of your age, pick up a Junior Ranger book and earn your badge.
We will definitely go back, just for the scenery.