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Contact: Lori Rome, (970) 641-2337, ext. 227
Montrose, CO – Winter weather has arrived in the Rocky Mountains. Park operations at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area are adjusting with the season and offering limited services. Winter is a wonderful time for the adventurous winter traveler to experience the parks with less crowds. Visitors need to be aware of challenges and prepared for changing conditions.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (BLCA):
Black Canyon offers much to discover in the winter. Visitors can enjoy canyon views accessed by snowshoes and discover how wildlife adapt in the icy conditions. Many enjoy the groomed ski trail under a full moon. East Portal and the North Rim roads are closed to vehicle traffic for the season. The following services are open to the public during the winter.
- The South Rim drive is open for vehicle traffic to the visitor center. The road beyond is closed to vehicles and open only to hikers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers. Pets are not allowed on the closed section of the South Rim drive. Park staff may groom a cross-country ski trail as time and weather conditions allow.
- Leashed pets are allowed on the Rim Rock Trail and on the East Portal Road (which is plowed intermittently).
- Books, maps, information, sales items, and exhibits are available at the visitor center and Western National Parks Association (WNPA) park store. Both are open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and closed for lunch at noon. The building is closed on winter federal holidays.
- Hiking trails and routes remain open for use. Free wilderness use permits are required for inner canyon routes. Traction footwear is strongly advised due to icy and snowy conditions.
- Loop A of the campground remains open. Water has been turned off for the winter. Bring your own water and other needed supplies. Vault toilets are available.
- Ranger-led snowshoe programs may be offered this winter season, contingent upon on snow, safety, and staffing levels. COVID19 pandemic restrictions and required safety measures will be practiced when snowshoes programs are offered. Check the park’s website or social media for updated information and program announcements.
- Check with outdoor stores in nearby communities for snowshoe and ski rentals.
Curecanti winters bring winds and extreme cold temperatures and provide the well-prepared recreationist a variety of experiences such as ice-fishing, hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Some access roads, campgrounds, and parking areas are closed and will not be plowed including Hermits Rest, Pioneer Point Overlook, Ponderosa Campground, Gateview Road and Campground, Red Creek Campground, East Elk Road and Campground, Dry Gulch Campground, and Stevens Creek Campground. Foot traffic can access trails. The following services are open to the public during the winter.
- The Elk Creek Visitor Center construction is nearly complete. The renovated building is scheduled to re-open to the public this winter. Winter hours of the temporary visitor center are 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday and closed at noon for lunch. Park staff are available for phone calls at (970) 641-2337 x 205. Park staff share information and updates on both Black Canyon and Curecanti.
- Most areas on the lake side of US Highway 50 will be open for winter and fishing access, including Lake Fork, Elk Creek, and Iola. Ice is forming on the reservoirs. Please exercise extreme caution on ramps and on the ice. Check conditions prior to recreating and remember that the ice is never safe
- While many access roads are closed for the winter season, visitors are welcome to utilize trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
- Loops A and D in Elk Creek campground are open year-round. Loop D has electricity. Water has been turned off for the season. Bring your own water and other needed supplies. Vault toilets are available in Loop A
Water is not available at Black Canyon or Curecanti during the winter. Bring your own water.
Masks are required in all federal facilities. Masks should be worn wherever you cannot maintain six feet of distance between you and others not of your household. Please help protect staff and others from COVID19. Park Rangers talk to hundreds of people every day and appreciate your cooperation with safety protocols.
Winter driving conditions in Colorado can be hazardous. Please be prepared and informed before departing. For Colorado road conditions call 511 within the state or check www.cotrip.org. Be aware of road work on US Highway 50 between Curecanti (Gunnison) and Black Canyon (Montrose). For schedules of road closures visit www.us50info.com.
Winter recreation has challenges and hazards that visitors must mitigate. You are responsible for your own safety. Use extreme caution on frozen lake areas as ice depth may be unknown. When in doubt, stay off the ice. Enjoy the winter.
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.
Last updated: December 16, 2021