Inner Canyon Wilderness Use

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Duration:
8 minutes, 22 seconds

Learn what to expect and how to prepare for hiking an inner canyon Wilderness Route in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

 
ChrisWheeler
A hiker stands on a boulder at the edge of the Gunnison River within the Black Canyon Wilderness.

Chris Wheeler

While some may be satisfied with peering into Black Canyon from the rim, others seek the rugged experience of venturing into its depths. Exploring the inner canyon is a rewarding adventure like no other, but requires skill, experience, and preparation to be successful. The inner canyon is also a designated Wilderness area and requires a permit to enter. The notices for the Wilderness permits, under OMB Control No. 1024-0022, can be viewed here.

Please take a few minutes to watch the general orientation video for hiking the Wilderness routes, located at the top of this page.


Be Prepared

Inner canyon activities are located in remote portions of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison Wilderness Area. Any rescue operation within the park is difficult and requires extended periods of time. Park visitors should carry the equipment necessary to endure an unexpected night in the wilderness. Each activity will require different essentials, but a good list to keep in mind in any wilderness area is:

  • Valid Wilderness Use Permit
  • 4 quarts of water per person per day, or a water filter if filling up at the river (NOTE: From late fall through mid-spring, drinking water is NOT available in the park.)
  • High-energy food, enough for the planned trip plus an extra day
  • "WAG Bag" or personal waste pack-out system
  • Layers and rain gear
  • Sturdy hiking boots or shoes
  • Map, compass (GPS devices often don’t work in the canyon)
  • First aid kit; you must be prepared for self-rescue for at least 24 hours
  • Sun protection
  • Flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries

How to Get a Wilderness Use Permit:

Permits are required for all inner canyon wilderness use - both day and overnight trips. Permits are available at the South Rim Visitor Center and North Rim Ranger Station.

North Rim Permits:

  • Free: distributed on a first-come, first-served basis
  • Limited number of permits per day
  • Limited number of people allowed on each route
    • SOB (Pinyon) Route: 20 people
    • Long Draw: 5 people
    • Slide Draw: 15 people
  • Must be obtained on the day of your activity (no reservations)
  • There is a permit self-registration kiosk with instructions when the ranger station is closed. Be sure to thoroughly complete the permit with accurate and legible information.
  • When you have finished your trip, check out with a ranger or, if the building is closed, place your permit in the self-registration box to “check out” of the inner canyon. Warning: inner canyon users without a permit may be cited and/or fined.

South Rim Permits:

  • Free: distributed on a first-come, first-served basis
  • Limited number of permits per day
  • Limited number of people allowed on each route
    • Gunnison Route and Tomichi Routes: 15 people
    • Warner Route: 20 people
    • Red Rock Route: 8 people (groups of 4 people maximum)
  • Available during the off-season for hikers on Tomichi, Gunnison, and Warner Routes at the South Rim Visitor Center the day of their trip, either from a ranger during visitor center hours, or by self-registration. Dates of the off-season are dependent on weather, staffing and visitor numbers - in the ballpark of mid-October to mid-May.
  • Available during the busy season for hikers on Tomichi, Gunnison, and Warner Routes at the South Rim Visitor Center 1.5 hours before closing the day before the trip or during visitor center hours on the day of the hike. There is no self-registration permitted on these routes during the busy season.
  • Climbers and kayakers must obtain their permit on the day of their adventure. There are permit self-registration kiosks with instructions when the visitor center is closed. Be sure to thoroughly complete the permit with accurate and legible information.
  • For questions about permits please email us.

When you have finished your trip, check out with a ranger or, if the building is closed, place your permit in the self-registration box to “check out” of the inner canyon. Warning: inner canyon users without a permit may be cited and/or fined.

Wilderness Regulations and Safety

Know before you go!

 

How to Explore the Inner Canyon

 
BLCA Wilderness Route Location Map

Wilderness Route Map (pdf)

Basic map showing general locations of the Wilderness routes.

Last updated: August 4, 2022

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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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