Best Camping near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Camping near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

Camping near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado offers a unique blend of stunning natural beauty, dark skies perfect for stargazing, and a variety of camping experiences from established campgrounds to dispersed sites. Whether you're looking for a family-friendly spot with amenities or a more rugged, off-the-grid experience, there's something for everyone in this area.

With campgrounds located both within the national park and in the surrounding areas, you'll have plenty of options to choose from. Each campground has its own set of features and quirks, so it's important to know what to expect before you go. This guide will help you navigate the best camping spots near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, highlighting what campers love, what you should be aware of, and tips for making the most of your camping trip.

What to do

The area around Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is rich with activities for outdoor enthusiasts. From hiking and fishing to stargazing and wildlife watching, there's no shortage of things to do.

  • Hiking: The park offers numerous trails, including the popular Gunnison Route, which is accessible from the South Rim Campground. Becky M. mentioned, "This location is great for if you're planning to do any inter-canyon travel as it's close to the entry points."
  • Stargazing: The park is designated as a Dark Sky Park, making it an excellent spot for stargazing. Joel R. shared, "This is a dark sky park. Took photos of the stars."
  • Fishing: The Gunnison River is a prime spot for fishing, especially near the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground. Austin C. noted, "Lotsss of people fly fishing the river."

What campers like

Campers have a lot to say about the campgrounds near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Clean Facilities: Many campgrounds, like Elk Ridge Campground, are praised for their clean facilities. Kelly H. said, "Well maintained campground with clean facilities."
  • Great Views: The scenic beauty of the area is a big draw. Lauren M. loved the views at Elk Ridge Campground, saying, "I stayed in one of the walk-in tent sites on the edge overlooking the lake. It was absolutely beautiful."
  • Friendly Staff: Campground hosts and staff are often mentioned for their helpfulness. Lawrence P. appreciated the staff at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground, stating, "The Staff (including the Camp Hosts) are very friendly and helpful."

What you should know

While camping near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is generally a great experience, there are a few things you should be aware of:

  • Limited Shade: Some campgrounds, like Iron Creek Campground, have limited shade. Carrie R. advised, "The sun is unbearable here for a whole weekend without some shade!"
  • Noise Levels: Proximity to other campers can sometimes be an issue. Becky M. mentioned about South Rim Campground, "It's a bit noisy because of how close sites are to one another."
  • Wildlife: Be prepared for encounters with wildlife. Whitney L. noted at North Rim Campground, "There are nice sized BearSaver boxes at each site, plus a fire ring and large picnic table."

Tips for camping with families

Camping with kids can be a fun and rewarding experience, especially in such a beautiful area. Here are some tips to make your family camping trip a success:

  • Choose Family-Friendly Campgrounds: Campgrounds like Elk Ridge Campground are great for families. Jennifer D. said, "A great park for kids. I loved the activities, hikes, swimming, and absolutely stunning views!"
  • Bring Shade: Given the limited shade at some sites, it's a good idea to bring a shade tent. Carrie R. recommended for Iron Creek Campground, "We used a sun shade with a tarp on one side that we would keep rotating during the day to create shade."
  • Plan for Activities: Keep the kids entertained with activities like hiking and fishing. Lawrence P. at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground mentioned, "There is much to do here and in the surrounding area. Fishing, hiking, biking or just sitting and enjoying the campground is wonderful."

Tips from RVers

If you're planning to camp in an RV, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure a smooth trip:

  • Check for Hookups: Not all campgrounds have full hookups. For example, South Rim Campground does not have sewer hookups. However, Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground offers full hookups. Austin C. shared, "Had a nice pull-through site 217 with full hookups."
  • Be Prepared for Tight Spots: Some campgrounds have snug spots. Becky M. mentioned about South Rim Campground, "We had site A9 and it was a pretty snug spot, as is typical with national park campgrounds."
  • Plan for Noise: Proximity to other campers can sometimes be an issue. Becky M. noted, "It's a bit noisy because of how close sites are to one another."

Camping near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park offers a variety of experiences, from the well-maintained facilities of established campgrounds to the rugged beauty of dispersed sites. Whether you're a family looking for a fun weekend or an RVer seeking adventure, this guide will help you make the most of your camping trip.

Best Camping Sites Near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO (250)

    Camper-submitted photo from South Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from South Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from South Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from South Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from South Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from South Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

    1.

    South Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

    59 Reviews
    231 Photos
    257 Saves
    Montrose, Colorado

    Overview

    A camping trip to the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park makes for a beautiful getaway for sightseeing, stargazing, and hiking. The park protects the most dramatic section of the Gunnison River Canyon; no other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths of Black Canyon.

    Recreation

    Take one of many spectacular hiking trails such as the Oak Flat Loop Trail and watch for birds like the black-billed magpie. In summer, catch an evening educational program in the campground amphitheater.______ Winter activities include snowshoeing on Rim Rock Trail or go cross country skiing on South Rim Drive (South Rim Campground is first-come, first-served in winter).

    Facilities

    Take one of many spectacular hiking trails such as the Oak Flat Loop Trail and watch for birds like the black-billed magpie. In summer, catch an evening educational program in the campground amphitheater.______ Winter activities include snowshoeing on Rim Rock Trail or go cross country skiing on South Rim Drive (South Rim Campground is first-come, first-served in winter).

    Natural Features

    Perched on the South Rim of the Black Canyon, this campground is surrounded by scrub oak forests and sits atop ancient hard rocks. Deer, grouse, bears, and bobcats are known to frequent the area.

    Nearby Attractions

    Visit the Cimarron Canyon Rail Exhibit to see railcars and the last remaining railroad trestle on the Black Canyon of the Gunnison route. Head upstream to Curecanti National Recreation Area to enjoy water recreation on Colorado's largest reservoir.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • RVs
    • Tents
    • Group

    $34 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Black Canyon Dispersed Camping
    Camper-submitted photo from Black Canyon Dispersed Camping
    Camper-submitted photo from Black Canyon Dispersed Camping
    Camper-submitted photo from Black Canyon Dispersed Camping
    Camper-submitted photo from Black Canyon Dispersed Camping
    Camper-submitted photo from Black Canyon Dispersed Camping

    2.

    Black Canyon Dispersed Camping

    40 Reviews
    114 Photos
    1189 Saves
    Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

    Black Canyon Dispersed Camping near Montrose, CO, is a no-frills spot perfect for those who love the raw beauty of nature without the fuss of amenities. This area is open year-round and offers a simple, scenic escape just a stone's throw from the entrance to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

    The sites here are all dirt and nestled among the trees, providing a quiet and secluded atmosphere. You won't find any toilets, showers, or drinking water, so come prepared. Fires are allowed, but you'll need to bring your own firewood. Pets are welcome, and there's no need for a permit, making it a hassle-free option for a spontaneous getaway.

    Visitors have praised the stunning views and the abundance of wildlife. You might hear turkeys, chickadees, and woodpeckers during your stay. Some campers have even spotted deer and, on rare occasions, bears. The area is also known for its beautiful sunrises and sunsets, with panoramic views that are hard to beat.

    Access can be a bit tricky, especially if it rains, as the dirt roads can become rutted. Low-clearance vehicles might struggle, so it's best to have a high-clearance vehicle if you plan to venture beyond the first few sites. Despite the rough roads, many campers have found the effort worthwhile for the peace and beauty of the location.

    If you're looking for a quiet, scenic spot to pitch a tent and enjoy the great outdoors, Black Canyon Dispersed Camping is a solid choice. Just remember to pack out what you pack in and leave no trace to keep this beautiful area pristine for future visitors.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Phone Service
    • Tents
    • Dispersed
    • Alcohol
    Camper-submitted photo from North Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from North Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from North Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from North Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from North Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from North Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

    3.

    North Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

    18 Reviews
    59 Photos
    412 Saves
    Crawford, Colorado

    Overview

    Official NPS North Rim Website__ The North Rim campground is remote and has 13 sites dispersed among pinyon and juniper trees. Sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Elevation: 7767 ft (2367.4 m). The ranger station is open intermittently in the summer and closed in the winter. In the summer, maps and newspapers are available on the ranger station porch. The ranger station also has a self-pay station for the park entrance fee and a self-registration kiosk for wilderness permits.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Phone Service
    • RVs
    • Tents
    • Group

    $20 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Ridge Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Ridge Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Ridge Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Ridge Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Ridge Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Ridge Campground — Ridgway State Park

    4.

    Elk Ridge Campground — Ridgway State Park

    27 Reviews
    77 Photos
    271 Saves
    Ridgway, Colorado

    This is the most popular campground at Ridgway, located on the top of a mesa covered in Pinyon pine and juniper trees. Offering campsites 80-187, it is also part of the Dutch Charlie area of the park. RV campsites have electric hookups and shared water and there are 10 walk-in tent sites. The dump station is located down the hill at the entrance to the Dakota Terraces Campground.

    All campgrounds offer: Restrooms; also, during the high season, showers, laundromat (coin operated), snack machines and a change machine in a Camper Services Building A playground Additional restrooms Hiking and biking trails

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    Camper-submitted photo from Iron Creek Campground — Crawford State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Iron Creek Campground — Crawford State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Iron Creek Campground — Crawford State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Iron Creek Campground — Crawford State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Iron Creek Campground — Crawford State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Iron Creek Campground — Crawford State Park

    5.

    Iron Creek Campground — Crawford State Park

    13 Reviews
    53 Photos
    67 Saves
    Crawford, Colorado

    Welcome to Iron Creek Campground at Crawford State Park! This spot is a gem for anyone looking to enjoy the great outdoors with some solid amenities. The campground is open all year, so you can plan your visit whenever it suits you best.

    One of the standout features here is the availability of electric hookups, making it a great choice for RV campers. If you're bringing your furry friends along, you'll be happy to know that pets are allowed. And for those who enjoy a good campfire, fires are permitted, and there's firewood available on-site.

    Visitors have praised the cleanliness of the campground, especially the bathrooms and showers. The camp hosts are known for their friendliness and dedication, often going the extra mile to ensure the sites are well-maintained. You might even get a chance to chat with the rangers, who are great with kids and always up for a friendly conversation.

    The campground is near the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which is a must-see if you're in the area. The reservoir nearby offers plenty of opportunities for water activities, and there are some great trails for biking and walking between the camp loops. Just be prepared for the sun, as it can get pretty intense during the day. A sunshade or tarp can make a big difference.

    Whether you're here for a weekend or an extended stay, Iron Creek Campground offers a peaceful and enjoyable experience with plenty to see and do. So pack your gear, bring some cash for the self-serve pay station, and get ready to enjoy a fantastic camping trip!

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    • RVs

    $15 - $32 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Creek Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Creek Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Creek Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Creek Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Creek Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Creek Campground

    6.

    Elk Creek Campground

    28 Reviews
    72 Photos
    265 Saves
    Powderhorn, Colorado

    Overview

    Elk Creek Campground is on the north shore of Blue Mesa Reservoir. The lake is Colorado's largest body of water with 96 miles of shoreline and the largest Kokanee Salmon fishery in the United States. Elk Creek Campground is located off of US HWY 50 -15 miles west of Gunnison Co. at Mile Marker 142. The campground is part of the Curecanti National Recreation Area, which was named after a Ute Indian chief of the mid-19th century.__ The Elk Creek area is a hub for water based activities year round.

    Recreation

    Anglers delight in catching salmon and rainbow trout, while water sports fans find excitement in windsurfing and water skiing. Swimming is permitted throughout the 20-mile long reservoir and birders can find bald eagles here year round.

    Facilities

    Anglers delight in catching salmon and rainbow trout, while water sports fans find excitement in windsurfing and water skiing. Swimming is permitted throughout the 20-mile long reservoir and birders can find bald eagles here year round.

    Natural Features

    At an altitude of 7,540 feet, Elk Creek is surrounded by a vast expanse of sagebrush. Trees are minimal because the reservoir gets less than 12 inches of rain a year. Curecanti National Recreation Area is sandwiched between the towns of Montrose and Gunnison, Colorado. It spans three reservoirs, named for corresponding dams on the Gunnison River. These include the Crystal Reservoir, Morrow Point Reservoir and Blue Mesa.

    Nearby Attractions

    Visit the Cimarron Rail Exhibit to see railcars and the last remaining railroad trestle on the Black Canyon of the Gunnison route.

    Charges & Cancellations

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • RVs
    • Tents

    $34 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from East Portal Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from East Portal Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from East Portal Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from East Portal Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from East Portal Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from East Portal Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

    7.

    East Portal Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

    9 Reviews
    45 Photos
    286 Saves
    Montrose, Colorado

    Overview

    The East Portal Campground is located within Curecanti National Recreation Area, but is adjacent to and only accessible from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The campground is located at the bottom of the canyon, along the Gunnison River. It is a small campground of 15 sites (10 are tent-only), shaded by box elder trees. East Portal is closed in winter, when the Bureau of Reclamation closes the East Portal Road. Elevation: 6526 feet (1990 m). NOTE: Black Canyon of the Gunnison charges a $30 per vehicle entrance fee which you will pay upon arrival (or purchase in advance ). The park also honors interagency passes for entry (e.g., senior, access, Golden Age, 4th grade, etc.).__

    Natural Features

    East Portal offers plentiful shade and nearby access to the Gunnison River. Spectacular views of Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Curecanti are abundant.

    • Fires
    • RVs
    • Tents
    • Group
    • Cabins
    • Standard (Tent/RV)

    $20 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground — Ridgway State Park

    8.

    Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground — Ridgway State Park

    15 Reviews
    67 Photos
    205 Saves
    Ridgway, Colorado

    Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground in Ridgway State Park is a solid spot for anyone looking to enjoy the great outdoors in Colorado. This place is open from mid-May to mid-September and offers a mix of tent and RV accommodations. It's got all the essentials: drinking water, electric and sewer hookups, showers, and toilets. Plus, you can bring your pets along, and there's firewood for sale if you want to get a campfire going.

    The campground is pretty big-rig friendly, so if you're rolling in with a larger RV, you won't have any trouble finding a spacious spot. The hosts here are known for being super friendly and helpful, which always makes the stay more pleasant.

    One of the standout features is its proximity to some fantastic fishing spots. The river nearby is popular for fly fishing, and there are stocked ponds just a short walk from the campground. If fishing isn't your thing, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails to explore, and the views are nothing short of spectacular.

    Visitors have mentioned that the restrooms and laundry facilities are kept clean, which is always a plus. The campground is also close to towns like Montrose, Ridgway, and Ouray, so if you need to stock up on supplies or just want to explore the local area, you're in a good spot.

    Overall, Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground offers a great mix of natural beauty and convenient amenities, making it a top choice for a relaxing getaway.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    Camper-submitted photo from Dakota Terraces Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Dakota Terraces Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Dakota Terraces Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Dakota Terraces Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Dakota Terraces Campground — Ridgway State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Dakota Terraces Campground — Ridgway State Park

    9.

    Dakota Terraces Campground — Ridgway State Park

    16 Reviews
    85 Photos
    120 Saves
    Ridgway, Colorado

    Dakota Terraces Campground in Ridgway State Park is a gem for anyone looking to enjoy the natural beauty of Colorado. This campground offers a mix of tent, RV, glamping, and yurt accommodations, making it a versatile spot for all kinds of campers. One of the standout features here is the stunning view of Courthouse Peak, which you can enjoy right from your campsite.

    The campground is equipped with electric hookups and drinking water, and there's a sanitary dump station on-site. Showers and clean restrooms are available, which is always a plus. If you're bringing your furry friend along, you'll be happy to know that pets are allowed. Fires are permitted, and you can even buy firewood on-site, making it easy to enjoy a cozy evening by the campfire.

    Visitors have mentioned that the campground is a great base for exploring nearby attractions like Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton. The reservoir offers opportunities for kayaking, paddle boarding, and boating, although it can get windy at times. The campground itself is well-maintained, with clean facilities and friendly park staff.

    While the sites are generally spaced out, providing a sense of privacy, there isn't much tree cover, so be prepared for some sun exposure, especially in the summer. Some sites have shelters over the picnic tables, but bringing a pop-up canopy might be a good idea for extra shade.

    Overall, Dakota Terraces Campground offers a fantastic mix of natural beauty, convenient amenities, and proximity to some of Colorado's most charming towns and outdoor activities. Whether you're here for a night or a week, you're bound to have a memorable stay.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    Camper-submitted photo from BLM Cottonwood Grove Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from BLM Cottonwood Grove Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from BLM Cottonwood Grove Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from BLM Cottonwood Grove Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from BLM Cottonwood Grove Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from BLM Cottonwood Grove Campground

    10.

    BLM Cottonwood Grove Campground

    9 Reviews
    53 Photos
    158 Saves
    Lazear, Colorado

    Situated among mature cottonwood trees along the Gunnison River, this campground has six campsites, including one ADA accessible site with an adjacent accessible fishing pier. Site amenities include a boat ramp (non-motorized watercraft only), shade structures, picnic tables, fire rings and a vault toilet. Camping is free with a 7 day/6 night maximum stay length. Sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please contact the Montrose Public Lands Center at 970-240-5300. __

    • Phone Service
    • RVs
    • Tents
    • Group
    • Standard (Tent/RV)
    • Dispersed
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Frequently Asked Questions

What camping is available near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?

According to TheDyrt.com, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park offers a wide range of camping options, with 250 campgrounds and RV parks near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and 67 free dispersed camping spots.

Which is the most popular campground near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?

According to TheDyrt.com, the most popular campground near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is South Rim Campground — Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park with a 4.5-star rating from 59 reviews.

Where can I find free dispersed camping near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?

According to TheDyrt.com, there are 67 free dispersed camping spots near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

What parks are near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?

According to TheDyrt.com, there are 14 parks near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park that allow camping, notably Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests and Curecanti National Recreation Area.