Winter Activities

Map graphic of winter trails at the south rim.
Winter trails map on the South Rim.

NPS

NOTE: Drinking water is not available in the park during winter.

Winter Ranger Programs

Snowshoe programs are over for the 2021-2022 winter season. Please check back for updates later this year. Each winter, park rangers offer guided snowshoe programs among the oaks, open meadows, and along the canyon rim of the Black Canyon. Learn more about these programs.

Cross Country Skiing
In winter, the South Rim Drive is closed to vehicles beyond Gunnison Point. Rangers groom the remainder of the road for crosscountry skiing (skate and classic) and snowshoeing. The drive is 6 miles (one way), and allows access to the overlooks. Park at the South Rim Visitor Center. Cross country skis can be rented or purchased in local communities.

Snowshoe Trekking
The Rim Rock Trail is an excellent trek for snowshoeing. The upper part of the Oak Flat Loop Trail is also recommended. However, the lower part of the Oak Flat Loop Trail drops approximately 400 feet into the canyon and is particularly difficult in the winter with the elevation change and some steep sections with no switchbacks. If you decide to do the lower portion of the trail, consider snowshoeing it in a clockwise direction (as displayed on the park map) as the descent will be primarily on switchbacks and the very steep ascent has no switchbacks.

Take in the incredible views of the snowy canyon that these two trails offer. Snowshoeing is also encouraged in any part of the canyon's rim. Going into the inner canyon, however, is not recommended.

Please be courteous to other trail users by not snowshoeing or walking in the ski tracks along the South Rim Drive. Dogs are not permitted along the South Rim Drive in winter.

Snowshoes are not available for loan at the park, but can be rented or purchased in local communities. When rangers are providing guided tours, park snowshoes may be borrowed just for the formal program.


Winter Backcountry Camping
Camping along the closed South Rim Drive is permitted beyond Pulpit Rock Overlook. All wilderness regulations, including no wood fires, apply. A free wilderness use permit is required.
Permit information »


Winter Survival
'Tis the season to be extra careful. Irregular weather, lack of experience, or carelessness can turn a nice outing into a fight for survival. The following easy steps can help you make yours a safe, fun filled adventure.

  • Wear adequate clothing. Wool and synthetics will keep you warmer than cotton. Hats, mittens, and extra layers are a must.
  • 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 victim to a dry, sheltered place.
  • Remove wet clothing and replace with dry, warm clothing and/or blankets.
  • If the victim is awake, slowly give warm non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Transport to a medical facility as soon as possible.
 

Winter Activities at Black Canyon

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    Last updated: March 18, 2022

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

    Gunnison , CO 81230

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