2023 Reservation System:
In years prior, Red Rock Canyon Wilderness permits were available through a mail-in lottery system. For 2023, the park is working to update this process to make it easier and more accessible for visitors. Red Rock Canyon permit reservations will be available online through www.recreation.gov, hopefully by early spring. This will be a first-come, first-served reservation system, not a lottery. More detail is available in the news release here. Updated information will be posted on this site when it becomes available. Please note: If there are delays in implementation of the online reservation system, there is still a chance that we will revert to the mail-in lottery system. This decision will be made no later than April 3, 2023, and more information will be provided at that time, if needed.
Red Rock Canyon is located on the southwestern side of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It is a popular destination for anglers. Hikers also enjoy this trail as an alternative to the steeper routes in other parts of the Black Canyon. The trail is three and a half miles long and descends 1,330 feet to the Gunnison River. Access is by wilderness permit only.
The first mile of the route follows a double-track road from a small parking lot to the trailhead. The route continues into Red Rock Canyon along a shallow creek. Numerous stream crossings are necessary and can make finding the route a challenge. The trail is not marked or maintained. Poison ivy is prolific along the lower section of the trail. Hikers are expected to find their own way and should not expect to be rescued. While descending the trail observe your surroundings carefully. This will make the return easier. Upon approaching the Gunnison River campsites will become visible upstream and downstream.
Leave no trace principles apply to Red Rock Canyon in addition to National Park Service regulations. Pack out all trash including human waste. WAG bags are available at the trailhead. Only one car is allowed per group. A Red Rock Canyon parking pass (provided with the permit) must be visible on the dashboard of the vehicle.
Rules and Regulations
- All Black Canyon Wilderness regulations apply. Practice “Leave No Trace” principles in the canyon. This includes packing out human solid waste in an appropriate WAG bag (Waste Alleviation Gel) system. Or, bury waste in at least a 6” deep cathole and at least 100 feet from water (200 feet recommended when possible). All toilet paper and hygiene products must be packed out.
- Open fires, pets, livestock, and bicycles are not permitted in Red Rock Canyon.
- Please be respectful of the area. No smoking is allowed and no overnight camping in the parking area.
- Only one vehicle per group is permitted at the parking area. Additional parking is available at the junction of highways 50 and 347 or on the South Rim of the Park.
- Commercially guided trips are not permitted in Red Rock Canyon.
- Gold Medal Water fishing regulations apply, as stipulated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.