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Contact: Sandra Snell-Dobert, 970-641-2337, ext. 227
The mountain bluebirds are back, the ice is melting, and it’s time for the National Park Service to prepare for the summer. Ever wonder what it takes to get a park or recreation area ready for the summer rush of visitors? Along with hiring and training our seasonal staff, we turn on water systems, test them and make sure they are fully functioning. We clean up after the long winter of snow drifts and broken tree limbs, getting campsites ready and fixing what broke. Roads and trails are checked and work is scheduled for repairs. Boat ramps are readied, inspection stations prepped, and courtesy docks poised to slide into the water. Toilet paper stocked and cleaning supplies ready. There is a lot more to it than many folks think. Keeping all that in mind, here’s what to expect this spring.
At Black Canyon:
The South Rim Drive is planned to open April 16 pending any weather disruptions. North Rim will open as soon as roads are dry and spring preparations are complete. South Rim Campground Reservations begin May 23 and can be made at recreation.gov.
Beginning May 1 Black Canyon entrance passes will be available on recreation.gov. Purchase of passes online will enable faster processing through the entrance station and give you more time to enjoy the park. Campground reservations are also strongly suggested as they are filling up fast.
The South Rim Visitor Center is currently open 9-4 daily with hours expanding to 8-5 daily beginning April 25. Summer hours are scheduled for 8-6 daily beginning May 28. Ranger guided programs, including talks, guided walks, and amphitheater programs will begin Memorial Day weekend. Free reservations are required for ranger programs while we have COVID-19 restrictions. Please make them by calling (970) 249-1914, ext. 423 no more than one week in advance or make them in person at the South Rim Visitor Center.
Visitors are reminded that masks are required in federal facilities like our visitor centers and wherever you cannot maintain six feet of distance between you and others not of your household. Please help us protect our staff from COVID. We talk to hundreds of people every day and appreciate your cooperation with our safety protocols.
Please be aware of road work on US Highway 50 between Curecanti (Gunnison) and Black Canyon (Montrose). For schedules of road closures see us50info.com
Boat ramps and inspection stations will open in what looks like a more normal pattern this year. The first Friday after ice off a ramp will open, either Elk Creek or Lake Fork. Others will follow as conditions and staffing permit.
The Elk Creek Visitor Center is under construction, so look for staff at the temporary trailer in the parking lot. Hours are 9-4 Monday through Friday, expanding to 8-6 daily on May 1. Restrooms are available in the campground and marina. There will no longer be overnight parking in the parking lot. Though we will not be offering the Morrow Point Boat Tour this year due to construction of new docks and road delay concerns, watch for evening programs in the Elk Creek Campground beginning around Memorial Day.
Campground reservations will be available through recreation.gov beginning May 21. Reservations are HIGHLY recommended as camping is becoming more popular.
Last updated: April 12, 2021