view of the canyon with river at the base and snowcapped mountains in the background
Black Canyon's is a story of deep geologic time, starting back 1.8 billion years ago.

NPS photo

The story of Black Canyon can be summed up in three words: grow, blow, and flow. About 60 million years ago, a small area of land uplifted (grow), bringing 1.8 billion year old metamorphic rock to high elevations. This is called the Gunnison Uplift. About 30 million years ago, large volcanoes erupted on either side of this uplift, burying it in volcanic rock (blow). Then, as early as 2 million years ago, the Gunnison River began flowing in force (flow). The river and time eroded all of the volcanic rock and cut a deep canyon in the metamorphic rock below. What you see today is a deep, steep, and narrow canyon: the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Canyon Dimensions

How far down to the river is it? How do we compare to other canyons?

The Geologic Story

"Page" through the in-depth story of Black Canyon.

Canyon Minerals

What is that pink rock? How does it compare to the black?

Last updated: October 22, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

102 Elk Creek
(GPS/physical address = 9800 Highway 347, Montrose, CO)

Gunnison, CO 81230


(970) 641-2337 x205

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