Red Rock Canyon Info & Reservations

Red Rock Canyon approach with steep canyon walls, rock scree field, and blue sky with clouds above
Red Rock Canyon approach is still steep and involves navigating on loose scree and stream crossings.

NPS/Ethan Crump

2024 Season Dates

For 2024, Red Rock Canyon permits will open in two reservation windows on (dates are subject to change):

  • On April 1, 2024 at 8:00am MT, reservations will open for May 1 - July 31, 2024.
  • On July 1, 2024 at 8:00am MT, reservations will open for the remainder of the season: August 1 - October 31, 2024.

Previous Reservation System:
In years prior, Red Rock Canyon Wilderness permits were available through a mail-in lottery system. Starting in 2023, the park moved all reservations and permitting to to make the process easier and more accessible for visitors.
This is a first-come, first-served reservation system, not a lottery. More detail is available in the news release here.



To use, you must create an account and be logged in to the site. Taking care of this in advance will help you to be prepared when reservations open for your desired trip dates.

The official name on is "Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP Red Rock Canyon Wilderness Permits" -- searching for this name, or just "Black Canyon" should get you to the correct page.


  • Maximum number of people per day/night = 8.
  • Maximum number of groups/permits per day = 4.
  • Maximum number of people per group = 4.
  • Maximum length of stay = two nights per group.

The park's $30 vehicle entrance fee applies to all users of Red Rock Canyon. Federal interagency passes (such as annual, senior, access, etc.) and Black Canyon annual passes are acceptable. The fee can be paid online in advance through or in person at the park entrance.

Red Rock Canyon wildlife
Leave Red Rock Canyon unimpaired for the enjoyment of this and future generations.

NPS/Joel Evans

Route Overview

Red Rock Canyon is located in designated Wilderness on the southwest side of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It is a popular destination for anglers. Hikers also enjoy this route as an alternative to the steeper routes in other parts of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison Wilderness. The route is 3.5 miles (5.6 km) one-way and gradually drops 1,300 ft (396 m) to the Gunnison River. Access is by wilderness use permit only.

The first mile (1.6 km) 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 may be necessary and can make finding the route a challenge. The route is not marked or maintained. Poison ivy is prolific along the lower section of the route. Hikers are expected to find their own way and should not expect to be rescued. Upon approaching the Gunnison River, campsites will become visible upstream and downstream.


Red Rock Canyon Safety

  • The river is extremely cold, swift, and dangerous. Do not attempt to wade or swim. Flooding is possible from mid-May to mid-July. Before departing for your trip, check the USGS web page for Gunnison River stream flow data below the Gunnison Tunnel.
  • Bring one liter (1 qt) of water per person for each hour of hiking or treat Gunnison River water upstream of the canyon route. Do not use water flowing along the trail as it may contain harmful bacteria.
  • Poison Ivy is prevalent on the lower third of the route and all along the Gunnison River; can be shoulder high in some spots.
Red Rock Canyon trailhead sign with green shrubs and some rocky cliffs

NPS photo/A. de Anguera

Rules and Regulations

  • All Black Canyon Wilderness regulations apply.
  • Practice “Leave No Trace” principles in the canyon. Pack out all solid human waste in a commercial, landfill safe bag (i.e. WAG bag system). All toilet paper and hygiene products must be packed out.
  • Open fires, pets, livestock, and bicycles are not permitted.
  • Please be respectful of the area. No smoking is allowed and no overnight camping in the parking area.
  • Trailhead parking is very limited. Only one vehicle per group is permitted at the parking area.
  • Commercial use (including guided fishing, hiking, or camping) is strictly prohibited in the inner canyon zone of Black Canyon of the Gunnison Wilderness.
  • A valid Colorado fishing license is required. Colorado Gold Medal Water regulations apply.
  • Hunting is prohibited.

Last updated: May 22, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

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

Gunnison, CO 81230



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