Winter Activities

 
Snowshoer hikes along tree-lined trail with views of canyon.
Snowshoeing in winter at Black Canyon

NPS Photo

Visiting in Winter

Although services and access is limited during winter, the park provides recreation opportunities for winter enthusiasts.

Open Areas

  • Tomichi Point and Gunnison Point Overlooks
  • South Rim Visitor Center
  • South Rim Campground (Loop B only)
  • Hiking trails (may be icy or snow-covered)

Winter Closures

  • East Portal Road
  • North Rim Road
  • South Rim Drive (past the visitor center)

Winter Ranger Programs

Depending on snow conditions, January to mid-March is a great time to join a ranger for guided snowshoeing. Park rangers offer guided snowshoe programs among the oaks, open meadows, and along the canyon rim of the Black Canyon. Geology talks are also offered daily. Check the calendar for program times.

Cross-Country Skiing

In winter, South Rim Drive is closed to vehicles beyond Gunnison Point. Rangers groom the remainder of the road for cross-country skiing (skate and classic) and snowshoeing (as staffing and conditions allow). The road becomes the South Rim Ski and Snowshoe Trail. It is 6 miles (4 km) one-way, and allows access to more overlooks. Parking is available at the South Rim Visitor Center. Rentals are not available in the park. Check the current conditions page for snow and grooming updates.

Snowshoeing

Visitors can snowshoe in various locations depending on snow conditions and experience level:

  • South Rim Ski and Snowshoe Trail (beginner level)
  • the upper part of the Oak Flat Loop Trail (intermediate level)
  • Rim Rock Trail (best with more snow; exposed rocks can damage snowshoes)

Please be courteous to other trail users by not snowshoeing or walking in the ski tracks or the flat area groomed for skate skiing along the South Rim Drive. Dogs are not permitted along the South Rim Drive when the road is groomed as a ski trail.

Snowshoes are only available for loan on guided ranger tours. Visitors should bring their own or rent from local communities.

Winter Survival

Irregular weather, lack of experience, or unpreparedness can turn a park visit into a hazardous or risky situation. Stay warm, prepared, and ready to enjoy winter on the canyon rim:

  • Wear adequate clothing. Wool and synthetics will keep you warmer than cotton. Hats, mittens, and extra layers are a must.
  • Bring traction devices during shoulder seasons for potentially icy conditions.
  • Be prepared. When possible, travel with a companion. Tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back.
  • Check the weather forecast and the snow and ice conditions where you plan to go.
  • Together with the bare essentials like water and food, bring sunglasses and sunscreen, first aid kit, map and compass.

Hypothermia is a constant threat to people in the outdoors. Knowing the symptoms and what to do can save someone's life. Symptoms can range from uncontrolled shivering to drowsiness and loss of consciousness. When someone shows one or more symptoms you should:

  • Get the patient to a dry, sheltered place.
  • Remove wet clothing and replace with dry, warm clothing and/or blankets.
  • If the patient is awake, slowly give warm non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Transport to a medical facility as soon as possible.

Winter Scenery

Curious what the park looks like during winter? Check out images of snow-covered canyon walls, trails, and a slightly buried visitor center.

 
 

Things to Do in Winter

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    Last updated: May 29, 2024

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    Contact Info

    Mailing Address:

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

    Gunnison, CO 81230

    Phone:

    970-641-2337

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