Your Guide to the National Park


Your Guide to the Death Valley National Park


Travel Itinerary to the Park

All the national parks of the United States of America offer access to scenic landscapes and beautiful wonders of nature. The Death Valley National Park, despite its difficult desert area and extreme temperatures, is not an exception. If you are someone who loves to explore landscapes of unfathomable scale and stunning sights, you should start planning a trip to Death Valley National Park. Most of the top attractions are not located at a lot of distance from each other so you can have a very well planned visit without having to spend much of your time traveling in the park. This travel itinerary can help you plan a perfect trip to the Death Valley National Park with all important aspects of the itinerary considered.

Best Time to Visit the Death Valley

The hottest temperature on earth was recorded in July, 1913 at Death Valley. The extreme temperatures in summer keep visitors away and a number of hotels, restaurants, and campgrounds remain closed during summer. That said, the weather conditions in fall, winter, and spring are generally suitable for a trip. You can plan your trip from late November to April for most suitable daytime temperatures. Even in the month of December, the weather is quite pleasant with average temperature of 65 degrees. Spring brings beautiful wildflowers and if you manage to plan your visit to the park in the super bloom year, you can find gorgeous beds of wildflowers in the park.

How Long to Spend in the Death Valley

You can plan your itinerary to the park for 1-3 days. If you do not have much time to spend at the park, then you should try and spend at least one full day at the park. If you are planning just a day long visit to the park, you can start off early in the morning and stay overnight to enjoy stargazing as well. However, a one day trip has to be in a rush if you want to visit all the top attractions of the park. Planning a 2-3 day trip to the park can allow you to visit all the sites easily along with long hikes and other activities that the park has to offer.

Entrance Fees

The vehicle entrance fee to the Death Valley National Park is $30 for a week. This allows a single private, non commercial vehicle with passengers to leave and enter the park as many times as they want during the week starting from the day of payment. The motorcycle entrance fee to the par is $25 valid for a week. The individual entrance fee to the park is $15, valid for a week. This pass allows the individual to enter or exit the park as many times as they want over a period of a week.

Apart from these entrance passes, the park also offers a Death Valley Annual Pass at $55 which is valid for a whole year. It allows free entry to the park for a period of 12 months.

Sightseeing in the Death Valley

The Death Valley National Park has a lot of scenic landscapes to offer sightseeing at various locations in the park. You can access these views by merely hiking or by private vehicles including four-wheel drives, bicycles, mountain bikes, etc. The Badwater Road, State Route 190, roads to Dante’s View, Scotty’s Castle Road, and Wildrose can all take you directly to the most fascinating views in the park. You can also watch the important historic points inside the park.

Hiking in Death Valley

There are some constructed trails in the park for hiking but due to the barren desert land, most hiking trails in the park are up canyons, cross country, or along the ridges. Since the summer temperatures are extreme, the most suitable months for hiking in the park are November through March. Even during spring and fall, the heat sometimes becomes unbearable for hikers. The high peaks of the mountains in the park are pleasant to spend your time at in summers. They are covered in snow during winters and spring. The climate of the Death Valley is hot and dry, so it is important that you remain properly hydrated during your trip and carry sufficient water with you during a day’s hike. There are some springs in the park but do not rely on that water source.

Camping in the Death Valley

Another interesting activity to plan for your trip to the Death Valley National Park is camping. With clear, dark skies overhead, you will absolutely love to sleep under the canopy of stars at night. The NPS have nine campgrounds in the Death Valley with almost 800 sites available. Many of the campgrounds in the park have the facilities of grocery stores and restaurant near by which can make the most difficult part of camping i.e. arranging a meal, feel like a breeze. Most of the campgrounds also have water facility and over half of the campgrounds have flush toilets and RV dump stations. You can camp inside or outside the park with the same spectacular experience either way.

Drive on Backcountry Roads

Death Valley National Park has more miles of roads as compared to all other national parks. Although 93% of the park’s area is wilderness area without roads, almost 1000 miles of paved and dirt roads give you a great opportunity to take an adventurous ride on the backcountry roads through the park. The weather conditions can cause a lot of trouble on these roads sometimes so we recommend you to do some planning for the trip beforehand. Carry a shovel and extra supply of water and food with you on the drive. You might require tire chains if you are to drive on higher elevations in snow. Moreover, one of the most common problems on such trips is the issue of flat tires due to rough roads and terrains. Before you head out to Death Valley,make sure you carry off-road tires with you to make the most of your trip without any problems.

Backpacking in the Death Valley

Death Valley National Park also offers the opportunity of backpacking in the park. It can be quite challenging but the wonderful chance to experience fascinating vistas, majestic night skies, and the astounding geology of the 3 million acres of wilderness in the park are all worth trying. There are some constructed trails in the park but backpackers can follow the canyons along the ridges and dirt roads to go around different sites in the park. You will have to acquire a free backcountry permit from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center or the Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station. Overnight group sizes are to be not more than 12 people with 4 or less vehicles. Large groups are required to split up and camp at half mile distance from each other.

Visit the Star Wars Filming Locations in the Park

Certain scenes of the iconic Star Wars Episode 4 and 6 were filmed in Death Valley National Park. You can visit different locations where the scenes of these movies were filmed many years ago. You can explore the different locations of Tatooine at Golden Canyon, Artists Drive/Palette, Desolation Canyon,Twenty Mule Team Canyon, Dantes View and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. You can check out these locations to find out how many of these you recognize.

Stargazing in the Death Valley

Death Valley National Park is also famous for a very suitable location for stargazing with its clear, dark skies at night. The darkest skies are in the northwest sites of the park like Ubehebe Crater. In spite of the remote location of the park, the light pollution from nearby Las Vegas affects the night visibility of the sky. You can observe the Andromeda Galaxy and the Triangulum Galaxy with the naked eye. The Milky Way also casts shadows like zodiacal light or false dawn are also visible to the naked eye in these locations. Most southern regions of the park are average dark sky sites.

With such a vast area to explore and a great number of recreational activities to experience, Death Valley National Park can be a very exciting adventure for your vacation. We recommend you to visit the visitor’s center of the park before setting out on hikes or camping to learn everything you need to know about the park. With a little planning and some research, you can plan a memorable trip to one of the largest national parks in USA.

Top Attractions at Death Valley National Park

Contrary to its name, Death Valley National Park is a fascinating and exciting area of unique landscapes and beautiful scenic views. From sand dunes to mountains, salt flats to lakes; it has all the elements of dramatic scenery. With an area that covers about 3000 square miles of difficult terrains, Death Valley is known for its extremes. The hottest and lowest point in North America has colorful sandstone canyons and below sea-level salt flats. It is one of the best destinations for a vacation to enjoy breathtaking vistas, discover wildlife and enjoy the ultimate wildflower show.

We have put together the top attractions of the Death Valley National Park for you to include in your itinerary.

Furnace Creek Visitor Center

Currently, there’s only one operational visitor center in Death Valley National Park—Furnace Creek Visitor Center. It is located in the Furnace Creek resort area on California Highway 190. It is the main visitor information source in the park. You can find out information about all aspects of the park from the staff at the information desks.

Every half an hour, the visitor center presents a 22 minute long slide program for the visitors. From November to April, park rangers offer informative tours, talks, presentations, etc about the park’s geological and paleontological history. The visitor center also exhibits different displays regarding the wildlife, climate, and geology of the park. The visitor center also has some sections on early human history. The Death Valley Natural History Association also maintains a bookstore at the visitor center where you can find extensive literature on the park’s natural and cultural history. The Furnace Creek visitor Center is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm.

Harmony Borax Works

In the late 19 century, a borax mine with the name Harmony Borax Works was significant in introducing Death Valley to workers and traders, and later on to tourists. Nowadays, it is one of the top attractions of the park to learn about the mining history of this area.

About 40 employees worked in the mine and it was very challenging to keep the mining team motivated to work in such a hot and desert environment every day. It was even more difficult to get the product out into the market. Harmony Borax Works thus came up with a solution for this problem and became commonly known for its large mule teams and double wagons. These animals along with men travelled the difficult overland road to the closest railroad station, Mojave. The mining operations at Death Valley were hence characterized by the twenty mule teams.

The remains of the Harmony Borax Works plant are open for visitors now to learn about the mining history of the region. It is situated just outside of the Furnace Creek and has a trail that gives you a tour around the mine. You will also come across an old mule wagon along the trail. This Death Valley tourist attraction is also a part of the National Register of Historic Places.

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point is the most famous viewpoint of Death Valley and it is also one of the most visited areas of the park. It is an elevated overlook that offers a spectacular view of the colorful and undulating landscape of the Death Valley and the salt flats beyond. You can enjoy the beautiful landscape by passing by the viewpoint on foot or while taking a longer hike towards the Golden Canyon.

Pacific Coast Borax Company built this famous attraction in the 1920s and named it after its vice president, Christian Zabraskie. This site was initially built for visitors to watch the Manly Beacon which was an important landmark of the Death Valley canyons.

The famous 1970’s movie, Zabraskie Point was shot at this overlook. In the past, people were able to drive to the edge of the overlook but now a new larger car park has been constructed so people have to take a short walk uphill. It offers a fascinating view to the visitors of the beautiful dunes and salt flats.

Dante’s View

Another famous overlook of the Death Valley National Park is Dante’s View which offers panoramic views of the park’s vast and beautiful landscape. Being at an elevation of 5,475 ft on the Black Mountains, it is a place of stark contrasts and mesmerizing scenic views. Just below Dante’s view, you can see the Badwater Basin which is the lowest point in North America while across the valley, you can see Telescope Peak which is the highest point in the park. Whichever direction you turn, you will find spellbinding beauty. You can also get a bird’s eye view of the vast valley and even get a chance to marvel at the striking mountain range across.

To get to Dante’s View, you will have to drive for 11 miles from Furnace Creek, taking a right turn on Dante’s View Road and then continue driving for 13 miles to find Dante’s View at the end of the road.

Salt Flats at Badwater Basin

The Badwater Basin in Death Valley is at 282 ft below sea level. You can find it 20 minutes south of the inn along the Badwater Road. It is a 200 square mile area of salt flats and it is among the largest reserves of salt flats in the world. An easy boardwalk trail from the parking lot can take you to the Badwater Basin where you can find the valley floor covered with delicate salt flats. Although the salt flats do not support plant or animal life, the crystals are delicate enough to get crushed easily by merely walking over them. The thin upper crust of the salt layer breaks through to the mud layer below, leaving foot prints and tire tracks. Due to their fragility, it is not allowed in the park to drive a vehicle off the established roads.

Artist’s Drive

Artist’s Drive is a 9 mile drive that crosses a steep mountainside of beautiful colors. These vibrant colors of the mountains are due to the presence of rich metals. Artist’s Drive is a one way road from south to north that is above the Badwater Road and offers a beautiful view of the salt flats. It is also a side hiking track to the Furnace Creek for people who are coming from the Badwater Basin. The main stop of the drive is the Artist Palette which is one of the most unique landmarks of the park. After getting off the road, you can park in the parking lot of the Artist’s Palette and head towards the colored mountains on foot. You will find a gorgeous view of the mountainside in vibrant colors. The beautiful view of the rainbow bands that color the soil of these mountainsides is what has given the name of Artist’s Palette to this spectacular site.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

The 100 ft high Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes is another amazing element of the diverse landscape of Death Valley National Park. The Eureka Dunes are the tallest sand dunes of the park but Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are the most accessible for the visitors. Walking on the silky, rippled sand dunes can be a wonderful experience for you. The wind makes the silky sand dunes shift continuously, therefore, there is no marked trail in the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. You can wander through the sand dunes as you like and how far you want to wander is also up to you. The most suitable time of the day to visit this attraction is just before sunrise or close to sunset. The soft light and long shadows will give you a wonderful setting for photography. You can also find animal tracks on the sand dunes early in the morning including those of rodents. Full moon nights are also mesmerizing in the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, but you will have to watch out for rattlesnakes at night.

Devil’s Golf Course

Devil’s Golf Course can be another short stop on the drive between Badwater Basin and Furnace Creek. It is full of salt formations that are spread all over the arid landscape far and wide. You can reach it by a half a mile drive on a dirt road and you can find signs that can direct you to Devil’s Golf Course. You will find a sea of rugged salt formations and some plaques with information about this attraction of Death Valley National Park.

Best Hikes in Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is a great spot for hiking all through the year. It is interesting that the park has even more options in the winter and spring than its hot summers. For hikers and adventurers who are looking for a hiking destination from fall through spring, Death Valley National Park is one of the best options to choose.

When you think about Death Valley as a hiking destination, images of flat sandy landscapes might pop into your mind. With that said, however, Death Valley has varying landscapes of 11 ft mountains, beautiful golden sand dunes, and much more. It is thus an adventurous destination for hikers because of its unique and unusual terrains. Here are the best hikes in the Death Valley National Park.

Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch Loop Trail

Starting slow and easy with a moderate hiking trail like Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch Loop Trail is recommended for people who are new to hiking. This trail is near the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and is a 4 mile loop trail. Unlike most of the trails in Death Valley, it has a paved road to the trailhead, therefore, you would not need a 4x4 vehicle to reach the trailhead.

You can go up the Golden Canyon and down Gower Gulch. You can have an exciting experience hiking through the Golden Canyon and past the famous ruins of borax mining. You can also enjoy the scenic views from Zabriskie Point and the stunning beauty of the Red Cathedral. It is best to start your hike in the morning for adequate light and temperatures. November through March is the most suitable time for hiking on this trail.

Hungry Bill’s Ranch

Hungry Bill’s Ranch is a difficult trail for hiking. It has a historic significance in the region and is related to the biggest silver rushes in the area. It is a 3.3 mile loop hike that passes through the Johnson Canyon which is one of the most watered canyons in the Death Valley National Park. You will have to take a rough four wheel drive to get to this trail. Despite all the effort and difficulty, it has some of the most spectacular views of the canyons and hand-built rock walls.

Telescope Peak

At an altitude of 11,049 ft, the Telescope Peak is the highest peak in Death Valley. It is a 14 mile round-trip hike to the top and is categorized as a strenuous hike. You need a four wheel vehicle to get to the trailhead which is just outside of the Mahogany Flat Campground. In winters, the trail has snow over it due to the elevation, therefore, it is best to choose this trail for hiking in summers, spring and fall. This strenuous hike offers a stunning view from the top. You can enjoy the views of the Badwater Basin and the Mountain Whitney from the Telescope Peak.

Panamint Dunes

The hike to the Panamint Dunes is the most straight forward hike in the Death Valley National Park because there is no foliage or hills to make navigation difficult. It is an 8 mile round-trip that takes you to the most beautiful dune field in the Death Valley. It is a rarely visited trail because there is no signage or route information regarding this trail. It is on the side of a mountain and you can find a fascinating view over the Panamint Valley. You will have to take a drive on a four wheeler to reach the trailhead and the road conditions can sometimes get worse because of the weather. Cooler months like from November to March are the most suitable for this hike.

Sidewinder Canyon

Another easy hiking trail in the Death Valley National Park is the Sidewinder Canyon. It is a 5 mile round-trip with no signs or genuine trail to follow. The hike is not well maintained but it offers a great opportunity for exploration and fun. It is important to come prepared on this trip and do some research about Sidewinder Canyon beforehand. Usually, most hikers start from the main canyons but there are many side canyons with twisted terrains of rocks to explore. Some area where the canyons are above the track gets dark so we recommend you to bring a flashlight on this hiking trail. You will have to hike through different slot canyons, twisting arches, sculpted narrows and hollows at the base of the Smith Mountain. You can find the trailhead in the south of the Badwater Basin off of Badwater Road.

The weather conditions in Death Valley can be extreme and the hiking trips can be difficult. So, it is important that anyone who wants to hike in the Death Valley should go to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center first and check in. It can help you to get necessary information regarding the trail you are going to take for hiking and help you prepare for the trip.

Accommodation Options

Death Valley has vast acres of remote lands and the distances between the top attractions and lodgings can sometimes be long. There are various lodging and camping options for visitors in Death Valley National Park but it is important to consider the locations that you are to visit in the park while picking the best lodging option. We have made this a whole lot easier for you by compiling the best options for lodging and campsites for your trip to Death Valley.

The Inn at Death Valley

The Inn at Death Valley is mid-range lodging in the heart of the Death Valley. It is a historic hotel located at the feet of the Funeral Mountains and overlooks the desert salt pans as well as the Panamint Range. Although it was renovated in 1997, it still has the characteristic feel of the 1920s. The Inn has a lot to offer including tennis, golf, horseback and carriage riding, pool, air conditioned rooms, etc. It remains closed from mid-May through mid-October.

The Ranch at Death Valley

The Ranch at Death Valley is also mid-range lodging which is a former working ranch turned family-friendly resort inside the Death Valley Park. It has comfortable guestrooms with patios or balconies, a swimming pool, and some courts for various sports. It offers horseback and carriage rides and allows guests to rent Jeeps to explore the park. It is located just beside the little town square where you can find restaurants, an ice-cream parlor, a coffee shop, as well as a store for essentials.

Camping Sites

Death Valley National Park also has various camping sites for visitors. In summer, there are usually very few campgrounds that are open due to the extreme temperatures. The campground at higher elevations can be full on busy weekends and on holidays. Except the Furnace Creek campground, the open campgrounds are all first-come, first-served with no available staff. You will have to travel to the camping sites yourself, find an empty spot and then pay at the self-help kiosk with a credit or debit card. NPS has 9 campgrounds in Death Valley with about 800 sites with most of them having water and more than half of them have flush toilets and RV dump stations. You can find three campgrounds near the Furnace Creek Resort, a privately-run Stovepipe Wells campground in the north of the Furnace Creek and other options including; Panamint Springs Campground, camping in the backcountry or outside the Death Valley Park.

Safety Tips for your Trip

Your trip to the Death Valley National Park can be exciting and full of adventure. Yet, due to the park’s extreme temperatures and vast remote area, there can be some dangers. With some safety measures provided here, you are all prepared to set out on your adventurous trip to Death Valley National Park.


Death Valley can be dry and hot. You should drink at least one gallon of water per day in Death Valley to avoid dehydration from sweating. Balance fluid and electrolyte levels. Avoid hiking in low elevation areas in the heat. Keep a check on any warning signs like feeling dizzy, nauseous or having a headache. In any such situation, immediately find shelter from the sun and drink lots of water. You can also dampen your clothes to lower your body temperature in such a situation.

Traveling Precautions

While travelling in a car, carry extra water with you. Stay on paved roads in summers and in case your car breaks down, stay with your car until you find help. It is also important to follow driving rules inside the park including speed limits, shifting to lower gear on steep downhill terrains, and wearing seatbelts. All of these precautions can help you avoid any kind of accidents. We also recommend you to avoid canyons in rainstorms and if you are in such a situation, quickly move to higher ground. If you are driving, be alert for water running in washes and flash flooding.

Safety from Dangerous Animals

The park has many rattlesnakes, scorpions, and black widow spiders. While hiking or travelling on foot, do not put your hands or feet where you cannot see first. Narrow openings can be a hiding place for such animals, so do make sure to keep an eye out for dangerous animals while travelling.


Located in Southeastern California, Death Valley National Park is about 186 miles north of Los Angeles and 149 miles west of Las Vegas. While the region was generally avoided in the mid 19th century owing to the terrain and extreme temperature, it is now much easier and exciting to visit the Death Valley region. You are very unlikely to run into any risks as long as you follow important safety tips when traveling to Death Valley.

Death Valley National Park is full of unique and fascinating formations and a variety of different landscapes including mountain ranges as well as sand dunes. From white salt flats to artistic mountains of pastel colors, the park has breathtaking views and picturesque scenery to offer to its visitors. You can also find it a great opportunity to engage in a number of recreational activities like hiking, horseback riding, golfing, camping, etc. Plan an itinerary for a memorable trip to Death Valley National Park and make sure to visit the Furnace Creek Visitor Center before visiting the top attractions in the park.

Safe Travels!

Your Complete Guide To Acadia National Park

Your Complete Guide To Acadia National Park


Planning A Trip To The Park

Just like any other destination, visiting the Acadia National Park requires proper planning and preparation. The preparation for the trip mostly depends on the season you are planning to visit, as well as the activities you want to do. You will have to pack clothes and gear accordingly. For instance, if you are planning on exploring the hiking trails, you must pack comfortable hiking shoes and other gear. If you are visiting during the peak season, then it is ideal to book your guided tours in advance. Make sure you are aware about all the rules and regulations about the park and follow the instructions given to you by the park personnel to have an enjoyable and stress-free trip.

When Should You Visit the Park?

The ideal time of visiting Acadia is from mid-September to early October, once the summer crowd has left and before winter arrives. However, there isn’t any right time to visit this park; it mostly depends on the type of activities and vacation you are looking for.

For a great summer family vacation – July and August are ideal. Want to experience the stunning fall foliage? October is the month to plan your trip. If you are hoping to visit between March and May, be prepared for rain and fog by packing waterproof gear.

Typically, people overlook spring and winter season, but there are still plenty of fun and adventurous activities offer in the park during these seasons.

How Much Will the Visiting the Park Cost?

To visit Acadia, you will have to buy a weekly or annual pass. There is also a lifetime pass available. Typically, visitors opt for a weekly pass as it gives them sufficient time to enjoy all the facilities and places inside the park.

Here are the different options available:

  • Per person - $15 (pedestrian, hiker, biker)
  • Per vehicle - $30 (non-commercial, private; 15 passengers or less)
  • Per motorcycle - $25 (non-commercial, private; 2 passengers)
  • Annual pass - $55 (pass holder and passengers in a vehicle)

How Long Should the Trip Be?

To explore the park properly, you should plan to stay for three to four days. However, if you want to visit the nearby places and villages, as well as the Schoodic Peninsula area of the park, then it is best to extend your trip by a few days.

Do You Need Special Permits?

You only need a special permit for activities which are beneficial for an organization, group or an individual, instead of the general public, as well as for the activities which will need to be managed by the National Park Service to protect public interest and park resources.

The events and activities for which you will need a special permit, includes:

  • Military operations

  • First amendment events or activities (25+ participants)
  • Pageants, attractions, or sports events
  • Commercial photography or filming events
  • Weddings (10+ participants)
  • Memorialization
  • Group events, including bicycling and running, walkathons, motorcycle rides (20+ participants)
  • Stationary events, including family reunions and picnics (30+ participants)

All the areas which are accessible through trials are restricted to groups of a maximum of 20 individuals. For holding events at Frazer Point in Schoodic District, a special permit is needed for 30 and more participants. You don’t need a permit to hold an event at Schoodic Education and Research Center. It is best to consult the concerned authorities before you plan the event to avoid any delays and disappointments.

Must-See Attractions and Things to Do

There is plenty to do in Acadia National Park since there are various attractions and places to visit inside the park. The majority of the park in located on Mount Desert Island, but it also covers some parts of Isle au Haut and Schoodic Peninsula. Each section of the park has its own unique characteristics and qualities.

Carriage Roads

The carriage roads were created between 1913 and 1940 by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and are undoubtedly one of the most beloved and unique features of this national park. The roads are 45 miles long and have been designed for visitors to experience the breathtaking view of the park in horse-drawn carriage rides, away from the usual hustle and bustle.

This is surely an experience you don’t want to miss. The roads are seamlessly blended in the rocks and woods leveraging the natural landscape. The carriage roads are also great for biking during fall, summer, and spring season. However, in the winter season, these roads are groomed only for skiing. Micro-vehicles and electric bikes are not allowed on these roads.

Sand Beach

If you are hoping to get a good swim, or just laze around enjoying the sun then sand beach is perfect. It is the perfect place to have a small picnic with your family. This beach features around 300 yards of sandy shoreline with beautiful granite cliffs.

Even if you are looking for a place to meditate or spend some alone time drawing, painting, journaling, or capturing pictures then sand beach is the ideal spot for you. What better way to spend a day lying on the sand, listening to the birds chirping and waves crashing!

Kayaking, Canoeing, and Sailing

There are many safe places in and around Acadia Park for water sports. You can opt for a guided kayak tour from Bar Harbor towards the western side, where wildlife sightings are rather common. The transportation and equipment is provided, and your guide will give you all the instructions. There other guided wildlife excursions offered at the Southwest Harbor that will take you in Somes Sound, Blue Hill Bay, Western Bay, as well as a short stop at a beach. These excursions are four hour long, so plan your trip accordingly. Shorter tours are also offered, which are ideal for families with kids.

Would you rather go for quieter paddling? You can rent paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes at the Long Pond to explore on your own. At Somes Sound, you can also rent out motorboats and sailboats. Sailing lessons are also offered for beginners.

Thunder Hole

This is probably the most remarkable spot in the park. The natural rock formation has formed a small cavern under the water surface. When the waves retreat, it creates a space in the cave for air to enter. When the next wave crashes on the cave, it smashes with the air and creates a thunderous roar. During high tides, the water shoots up to almost 40 feet in the air! It is certainly an awesome sight to behold. Be prepared to get wet when visiting the Thunder Hole – bring a towel or an extra pair of shirt along.

Bubble Rock

A long time back, a massive boulder was dropped by a glacier on the eastern side of the South Bubble Mountain. Now, it is one of the most popular sights in Acadia Park. The large boulder has been resting precariously on the edge. It is certainly an excellent glacial erratic example. The location is a short hike away from the Bubbles parking lot and offers scenic views of Penobscot Mountain, Pemetic Mountain, Jordan Pond, and Seal Harbor.

Schoodic Peninsula

This is a secluded part of the park offering less crowded and unspoiled scenery. You can witness the stunning thick forest with granite formations. The must-visit spot is the Schoodic Point, a rocky barren tip offering breathtaking view of the Mount Desert Island and Atlantic Ocean. Other points of interests include the Raven’s Nest, Schoodic Institute and Education Center, Frazer Point, The Schoodic Loop Road, Visitor Center and Schoodic Woods Campground, Blueberry Hill, and Little Moose Island.

Abbe Museum

This museum is situated at Sieur de Monts Spring and displays a vast collection of art and artifacts of Wabanaki. You can learn about the Native Americans and how they lived their life about 12,000 years ago. All the exhibits highlight the history and culture through interactive displays and multimedia.

While you are visiting the Abbe Museum, don’t forget to visit the Wild Gardens of Acadia to view the small gardens loaded with native plants from different habitats. These gardens boast over 400 plant species which are maintained by volunteers.

Isle au Haut

This is one of the most beautiful islands in Maine and is accessible through mailboat. If you want to spend some time in a quiet place to recharge and do some exploring, then this is the most remote area of the park. Almost half of the island is in Acadia and the rest have private residences. There are around 20 miles of hiking trails on this island and it also has camping area.

Cruises and Boat Tours

Since the island is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and three bays, the park is an ideal place for boat excursions and sea adventures. Many of the islands near the Acadia Park are connected by cruises or ferries. This means that aside from exploring the park through canoeing, kayaking, and sailing, you can discover the other islands and enjoy the view of the park from the water.

You can go on the whale watching cruise, the puffin cruise motor launch nature tour, or windjammer sail from Bar Harbor. There are lunch cruises that can take you to the Blue Hill Bay Island to the Frenchboro fishing village, nature cruises for seal and dolphin sightings, and ferry ride to take you to Swans Island and Frenchboro. From the Southwest Harbor, you can even opt for deep-sea fishing from Northeast Harbor, head to Cranberry Island, or take a Friendship Sloop to either one of them.

No matter what type of activity you are looking for, Acadia National Park has something for everyone.

The Best Trails in Acadia National Park

Acadia is filled with hiking trails throughout the park, and that too, with different levels of difficulty. This means whether you are a beginner or an expert, you will find a beautiful trail for hiking. All the trails offer a unique scenic view and even opportunities for wildlife sightings. Let’s have a look at the six best trails in the park and what makes them special:

The Beehive Trail

This is one of the most popular trails in Acadia. The Beehive Trail is situated right opposite the sand beach and basically forms a loop. You can enjoy the view of the beach and hear the waves crashing as you explore the trail. However, be warned that trial is definitely not for beginners. The difficulty level is the highest as you will have to take the assistance of handrails, iron rungs, ladders, and granite boulder steps to go through this path. Moreover, this hiking trail will lead you to the highest cliffs which is why it is better not to attempt hiking on this trail if you have fear of heights or are a beginner hiker.

After all the hard effort to reach the cliff, you will be rewarded with an amazing view of the Frenchman’s Bay and Sand Beach. The view is particularly stunning on a clear day and it is surely the best one in the entire park. Keep in mind that you don’t have to go all the way down the Beehive, but instead continue on hiking the loop to the Bowl trail from where you will reach the starting point of your hike. If you are an intermediate hiker then you might be able to hike this trail from the backside to catch the glimpse of the views.

Length: Less than 2 miles for the complete loop

Difficulty: Strenuous, not recommended for beginners

South Bubble to Bubble Rock

You would definitely want to see the massive Bubble Rock boulder sitting at an edge. The rock seems to be at the brink of tipping over but amazingly has been in that position for years. It is bigger than you would even imagine and is certainly worth the hike. You will also get to enjoy the great views of the surrounding mountains and the Jordan Pond from up there.

Make sure you take this hike on a clear day so you can enjoy the views beyond the Bubble Rock. It is impossible to see anything else aside from the famous boulder when the weather is foggy. It is best not to take children or pets on this trail since there are plenty of steep drop offs.

Length: Just a mile

Difficulty: Moderate

Ocean Path

This is a family friendly hiking trail which goes through the Park Loop Road and the coast, beginning from Sand Beach and ending at Otter Point. Best of all, you get to enjoy many of the popular spots of Acadia during this hike, including the Thunder Hole and Monument Cove. There are various parking lots on this trial, which means you don’t have to complete the entire hike if you are short on time or if the kids are getting tired. You can also drive up most of the way and start hiking from the point you want to.

The entire hiking trial is almost leveled so it is safe for the entire family, including your pets! This is a must-try hike, especially if this is the first time you will be visiting Acadia Park.

Length: 2 miles for the complete hike (one way)

Difficulty: Easy

Jordan Pond Path

The Jordan Pond is the most beautiful part of the park, and is also another great family friendly hiking trial. The Bubble is located at the end of the lake, providing a scenic view while you rest and enjoy some snacks with your family. The hike forms a loop around the pond and stays very near the shoreline. The pathway is level all the way so it is easy for beginners and families. There is plenty to explore here, including a beaver dam!

Length: 3.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Cadillac Mountain Loop

When visiting Acadia National Park, you must see the Cadillac Mountain. Whether you plant to hike or not, catching the sunrise or the sunset from the top of the mountain is something you won’t want to miss. This is also a family friendly hike so you can enjoy the trail with the whole family.

To thoroughly capture and enjoy the beauty this mountain has to offer, you should hike the Cadillac Mountain Loop. This paved, short trial will take you all the way to the top of the mountain with breathtaking views on all sides. You can spend as much time as you want on the mountain, but be sure to follow any warnings, signs or roped off areas to protect the fragile plants.

Your hike up the mountain has various stops, each with great views of the surrounding areas. If you want to drive up, then there are plenty of parking spaces for cars. There is a gift shop, as well as restrooms at the top. However, it might be difficult to find a spot if you are visiting during the summer season.

Length: 0.5 mile

Difficulty: Easy

The Precipice Trail

This trail is the hardest and steepest one Acadia has to offer, and certainly has the best thrill factor. You will have to use ladders and iron rungs during this hike, more than the ones you’d experience while hiking the Beehive Trail. The views are definitely worth the effort, but this hike is not for everyone. If you are a beginner hiker or have a fear of heights then leave this one out.

Length: 1.6 miles

Difficulty: Highly Strenuous

Whichever hiking trial you plan to go, make sure that you are well-prepared. Always bring a water bottle with you, along with some high protein snacks. Wear comfortable clothes and hiking boots. Keep yourself hydrated at all times, especially if you are hiking during the summer season. Follow all instructions provided to you by the park’s personnel and never ignore any warning signs, if any, posted around the hike. When you are properly prepared for the hikes, the experience is bound to be highly rewarding.

Accommodation options

It usually takes at least four to five days to explore Acadia National Park and the surrounding areas, which is why there are plenty of accommodation options available in and around the park. You can select a camping site to have a great camping experience, stay at a hotel if camping is not your thing, or you can do both!

Let’s have a look at all the accommodation options available to the visitors.

Camping Sites

There is no shortage of camping sites in Acadia. There are various campgrounds located all over the park, one each on Schoodic Peninsula, Southwest Harbor, Bar Harbor, and on Isle Au Haut Island. The most popular time for camping starts from May to October, which means you would have to reserve a tent early on to avoid disappointments. Most of these campsites can feel like peaceful retreats, and some also offer onsite ranger-led programs.

Blackwoods Campground

In this campground, you will see various recreational vehicles, including vehicle campers, pop-ups, RVs along with tents. The Blackwoods campground also has various restrooms with running waters; you can also take showers there. The reservation for this campground is usually half the price in April and November since there are only limited facilities available and no ranger staffing. From December all the way to March, the reservations are free at certain primitive sites. However, the winter campers must be prepared and self-sufficient for Maine winters.

Schoodic Woods Campground

An hour away from Bar Harbor, the Schoodic campground offers 203 wooded camping sites for both TVs and tent camping. The place is open from mid May all the way until Columbus Day. This campground is an ideal place for a relaxing retreat in the woods. Restrooms are also available here.

Seawall Campground

This campground is situated about 25 minutes drive away from Bar Harbor. The Seawall Campground is has plenty of room for drive-up and walk-in campers, including RV and other camper vehicles. The campsite is open for campers from May to September. It also has a sufficient number of restrooms.

Duck Harbor Campground

Duck Harbor on Isle au Haut can be accessed through mail boat or you would have to hike all the way there. It is open from 15th May to 15th October. There are five camping sites available here. You will have to make advanced reservations for to get a spot. The facilities on this campground include pump water and compositing toilets. The mail boat runs from June to September, but during off-season, you will have to hike towards the campground from Town Landing.

Make sure you get all the information you need to determine which campground would work best for you. It is ideal to reserve a spot in advance to get a good spot. Campfires are traditional all over Acadia’s campgrounds. However, you can only use local wood that help in keeping non-native insects away from the Acadia forests. You can get the firewood from Schoodic Woods, Seawall, and Blackwoods campgrounds

Hotels Nearby

If you prefer staying at a hotel while you explore Acadia National Park then there are various options available for you. Following are five hotels near the park that you can consider for your stay:

Balance Rock Inn

This hotel is situated on top of a rocky peninsula with breathtaking views of the Frenchman’s Bay. The Balance Rock Inn has the best possible scenic view any hotel near the park has to offer. It is a historic building located in a rural wooded area with a waterfront, offering privacy and seclusion to the visitors. Since the hotel is within walking distance to the town, the visitors can easily explore Bar Harbor.

All the suits and guestrooms have antique and handcrafted furnishings and décor. Few rooms also have porches, whirlpool baths, saunas, and fireplaces. There is a Verandah Bar in the hotel where you can enjoy its stunning design with the ocean view, while eating delicious food.

There is also a sundeck overlooking flower gardens and lawns. It is also furnished with a fire pit, shaded gazebo, and heated pool. The hotel offers a breakfast buffet in the morning and a round of freshly cooked food in the afternoon. You can also keep up with your fitness in the well-equipped gym. They even offer a variety of outdoor and sailing packages to the visitors.

Quimby House Inn & Spa

Just like most of the hotels, the Quimby House also has the antique design but with modern touches and facilities. This is an ideal lounging if you want to have a quiet time to relax and unwind from the usual hustle bustle of city life. It is near enough to the town for you to walk around and explore the main attractions, but far enough to enjoy a peaceful time with its beautiful forest views.

Highbrook Motel

This hotel is located at Bar Harbor on a secluded wooded hillside, ideal for a peaceful vacation. It is also near the town, making it convenient for you to head towards the downtown area and the Main Street to explore the attractions and interact with the locals. The hotel also provides easy access to Acadia Park through the West Street Extension which is right behind the hotel property. The place has 26 units with flat-screen TVs, armchairs, and private bathrooms.

The Highbrook Motel also offers mini-suites and deluxe rooms with secluded locations, double vanities, and extra space. All these rooms have front door parking, a furnished porch, and come with complimentary facilities like grab-and-go breakfast options, hot beverages, and WiFi access.

Holiday Inn Resort Bar Harbor

The Holiday Inn is the most ideal place to stay for traveling families. Children can stay and eat for free (do have a look at the terms and conditions first). The resort has its own private marine on the Frenchman’s Bay. The outdoor pool, oceanfront lounge, and even the surrounding gardens offer scenic views. There are two tennis courts in the resort as well.

There are a range of different accommodations offered in this resort, including suites with living areas, kitchen, and an outdoor deck. You can also get complimentary infant beds or cribs if you have young children. For larger families, adjoining or connecting rooms are also available. There are plenty of children’s activities arranged in the resort to keep them entertained while you relax at the spa or enjoy other facilities.

Dining options include Encota and La Bella Vita, while the Splash bar offers refreshing drinks and causal snacks. The Stewman’s Lobster Pound offers the authentic seafood experience and their lobster bisque and clam chowder is a must try!

Lindenwood Inn

This inn served as the home of a sea captain during in the 1904, and was later converted into a public lodging. The cottage has maintained its wooden floors and architecture, while offering era-specific rooms for the travelers. This place is ideal for visitors looking for a coastal down-to-earth getaway. The Lindenwood Inn is located on the Southwest Harbor of Mount Desert, which the most secluded and quieter areas of the island. If you are looking for total escape then this is the right choice. They even offer home cooked breakfast, along with an honor bar, and a cozy pool area.

These are among the many accommodation options available to you when you plan your visit to Acadia National Park. Make sure that you go through the terms and conditions of the place you are selecting and reserve the room in advance, especially if you are visiting during the peak season.

Tips For a Safe and Stress-Free Trip

To have an enjoyable trip to Acadia, it is essential to keep a few things in mind during your visit. Safety should be your number one priority, especially if you are planning to go on hikes. Since Acadia National Park is among the most popular parks in the country, with over 3.5 million people visiting annually, you should be prepared for large crowds.

General Advice

  • Always be cautious when walking near cliffs.
  • Make sure a friend or a family member has your itinerary.
  • Pick out a prominent spot in the park to come back to in case the group gets separated.
  • Have insect repellent with you at all times.
  • Make sure everyone has a map with them to avoid getting lost.
  • Ask a ranger for directions or instructions whenever in doubt.

Climbing and Hiking Safety

If you are hiking or climbing, then keep these tips in mind:

  • Always have a water bottle with you.

  • Keep a map, flash light, and a first aid kit in your bag.
  • Wear the right clothing, especially hiking shoes.
  • Keep a warm jacket with you in case of sudden rain or change in weather.
  • Be sure to follow the blue colored trail blazes.
  • Never modify the cairns. If you make any changes in the trail markings then it might endanger other hikers.
  • Pick the trial as per your experience, limitations, and physical abilities. Never opt for a hiking trail which might be too challenging for you.
  • Climbers are responsible for their own safety. Never neglect any warnings or instructions on the park signs.
  • When climbing Otter Cliff, use the fixed anchors provided by the park instead of the trees.
  • If you notice safety concerns, immediately notify the rangers or park personnel immediately.
  • Check the weather and tides forecasts before you head out on hikes or climbs, especially at Otter Cliff and Great Head. The climbs are extremely dangerous in heavy rain or high tides.

Safety on Carriage Roads

There might be heavy trucks or machinery on the carriage road for maintenance purposes. Here are a few tips to follow:

  • You must give way to others if you are using a bike.

  • Whether you are hiking or biking, you must give way to the carriages as the horses get startled by sudden movements.
  • Never speed as you might have to make sudden stops.
  • Keep towards the right side of the road.
  • When stopping, make sure to move towards the side to give space to other users.

Poison Ivy Protection

Poison Ivy is present all around Acadia. It isn’t an exotic plant but is a native component of Maine’s plant community. It usually flourishes well when growing on areas of disturbance, including along shoreline. The berries from Poison Ivy are highly nutritious to animals and plants. The plant itself offers protection and cover to the soil.

Since it is beneficial to the natural inhabitants of the park, Poison Ivy is preserved. Therefore, the visitors must follow the precautions to avoid getting in contact with the poison ivy. Here are some tips:

  • Learn to identify the vine. If a plant has leaves with three petals, it might be Poison Ivy. Stay clear.

  • If you or your family member accidently touches the ivy, wash the affected part with water and soap.
  • Wash all your clothes if you might have brushed the poison ivy with your clothes.
  • Immediately get medical attention in case of a rash.

Tick Prevention

  • To avoid ticks while you hike, stay on the middle of the pathway to avoid tall vegetation, wear light colored clothes, tuck your pants inside the socks, and keep a repellent spray with you.

  • Wash your clothes after your hike to remove any tick that might have crawled on your clothing.

More Useful Tips

Here are a few more tips for travelers to enjoy a stress-free time exploring the park:

  • Buy your passes online if you are visiting during the popular seasons. This will help you in avoiding standing in queues to get the ticket. Having a smooth start to the vacation will ensure a pleasurable visit.

  • Check the timings of the park whenever you are visiting and plan the entire day accordingly.
  • Before heading to the park, check and reconfirm any tours you have booked for any changes.
  • If you plan to participate in any of the recreational activities then book your spot well in advance.
  • Since the parking typically fills up early, it is ideal to arrive early or opt for the fare free shuttle services to get reach the hiking trails, carriage roads, and Park Loop Road.
  • The parking areas which are typically congested during peak seasons are Echo Lake Beach parking, Acadia Mountain parking, Sand Beach Parking Lot, Park Loop Road, Jordan Pond area, and Cadillac Summit Road. Arrive early if you want to get a parking spot in these areas.
  • Roadside parking is not allowed.
  • Using and possessing firecrackers or fireworks is prohibited in the park.
  • Download the Island Explorer app that shows the location and arrival times of the buses. These buses are fare free and can be taken to reach different parts of the park. Be sure to look at the map.
  • Reserve a spot for your preferred campsite beforehand to get a good place to camp. You can make the reservations online. There are various private camping spots available but since they are limited, they can only be booked through reservations.
  • Map out the things you want to do in Acadia and also have a backup plan ready. This way, in case the activity you wanted to do looks too crowded, you will still have other things to do.
  • It is ideal to visit the park during the off season to avoid the crowd and properly enjoy the facilities.
  • Hike the popular hiking trails early in the morning, so you can take in the beautiful views and increase your chances of wildlife sightings.
  • Always have a water bottle with you, along with a few energy snacks to refuel yourself during hikes.
  • Be aware of your surroundings throughout your hike to ensure your safety. Buy the hiking guide from the visitor’s center and follow it closely to avoid any hurdles.
  • Checkout Acadia’s online calendar for ranger-led activities and book your spot online.
  • Always clean up the campsite before leaving so that others can enjoy their camping experience as well.

When you plan your trip to Acadia National Park properly, you will have a better time enjoying the park. Follow these tips to keep yourself and others safe.

Final Words

Acadia National Park is definitely one of the must-visits parks in the country. No matter what time of the year to plan your visit, you are bound to have an amazing time. It provides the ideal blend of comfortable modern lodgings and thrilling outdoor adventures. The park has something for everyone, making it an ideal family vacation spot.

To maximize your experience, you should plan an itinerary as per the season you are visiting in and the activities you are planning to do. Be sure to reserve your accommodations and book the tours beforehand for a smooth experience. Pack your luggage according to the season to be comfortable throughout your trip and always follow the instructions and guidelines highlighted by the park personnel.

With all the useful information from this guide, you will surely have a fun-filled and relaxing time exploring the wonders Acadia has to offer.

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National

Your Complete Guide To Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National


Planning a Trip to the Park

When Should You Visit the Park?

The ideal time to visit this national park is during the summer, especially since the Main South Rim road, ranger station, and North Rim roads are closed from November to April. Winter is also a good time to explore this park as there are plenty of winter activities organized here, including snowshoeing, downhill and cross-country skiing.

How Much Will the Visiting the Park Cost?

You will need an annual or a weekly pass to visit this park. Typically, visitors opt for a weekly pass as it gives them sufficient time to enjoy all the facilities and places inside the park.

Here are the different options available:

  • Per person - $10 (pedestrian, hiker, biker)
  • Per vehicle - $20 (non-commercial, private, single vechicle)
  • Per motorcycle - $15 (non-commercial, private; 2 passengers)

For commercial buses:

  • Bus with seating capacity of more than 26 passengers - $100
  • Bus with seating capacity of 7 to 25 passengers - $40
  • Bus with seating capacity of 6 or less passengers - $25

The annual pass is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase, but only covers the entry fees.

  • Annual pass - $40 (pass holder and passengers in a vehicle)

How Long Should the Trip Be?

Since there is so much to explore in this park, it is best to set aside at least three days to properly enjoy what it has to offer. The drive from South Rim to the North Rim itself is about two hours long, so make sure to plan the trip accordingly.

Do You Need Special Permits?

You only need a special permit if you want to hold an event in the park, including ceremonies, entertainment, spectator attractions, pageants, memorial services, weddings, motorcycle/automobile club rallies, large group rendezvous or camps, and organized rides or tours. You can get a special permit for a group activity which is short-term, and:

  • Benefits an organization, group or individual instead of general public
  • Needs written authorization or certain management control to protect the public interest and park resources
  • Isn’t prohibited by regulation or law
  • Isn’t conducted, sponsored, or initiated by NPS
  • Isn’t managed under a concession contract

It is essential to note that the space in the park for such activities is provided on the first-come-first-served basis. It typically takes 10 business days for a standard request to be processed. For events that require some other environmental compliance, the minimum processing time is four weeks.

Top 10 Must-Do Things in the Park

Here is a list of the top ten things you must do during your visit to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park:

Enjoying the Scenic Views

The drive on both the South and North Rims roads offer stunning views, with plenty of overlooks where you can stop and admire the view. You can get a glimpse of the sheer black cliffs of the Black Canyon from these overlooks. There are 12 of them just on the South Rims. You don’t want to miss the overlooks on the Sunset View, Pulpit Rock, Painted Wall, and the Chasm View.

Heading Back in Time

Visiting Cimarron, a historic town, is a must thing to do here. It used to be a train depot but now takes you back in time. Start with the visitor center to gather all the details, and head towards the rail yard exhibit to learn how things were at the Black Canyon during 1882. You can even glimpse at the last remaining truss bridge.

Getting the Camping Experience

If you are looking for a fun-filled camping experience, then there are plenty of campgrounds in the Black Canyon National Park to choose from. For the thrill-seekers, hiking towards the river from the canyon rim is a good choice. This trial is not suitable for amateur hikers since the trail isn’t marked clearly and is rather steep. Be prepared to face frequent hazards, like stinging nettle, ticks, and poison ivy. Make sure you have the right equipment and experience before opting for this hike towards the campground. Start early and take a large refillable water bottle along with you, especially if you are hiking during the summer season. Other campgrounds are easily accessible through a drive or an easy hike. The Gunnison Route is ideal for first-time hikers and campers.


There is a boat tour that takes you to the Black Canyon through the Curecanti National Recreation Park. A park ranger leads this tour and shares fascinating geological, wildlife, and historical information as the boat gently floats down the river. This trip is 1.5 hours long, where you get the chance to explore the inner canyon.

The trip starts around 40 miles west of Montrose and 25 miles east of the Gunnison River. It is a wonderful way of discovering the north rim of the Black Canyon. However, you will have to make a reservation well in advance to get a seat on the boat. You can call in to make the reservation or head to the park visitor center. They don’t accept walk-ins. So, make sure you reserve your spot to avoid disappointments.

Make sure you are well prepared for the Colorado weather. What might seem like a perfect summer day can suddenly transform into a harsh rainy one. Make sure that you pack rain gear, sun protection, snacks, warm jacket, and drinking water before you head for the boating tour.

Watching the Sky

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is also known as the International Dark Sky Park, which means it is an ideal location for stargazing. There are plenty of opportunities offered by the park for constellation tours and night-sky viewing. These also include telescopes! Be sure to check out the schedule for the upcoming tours and viewings.

Exploring the North Rim

The North Rim of this national park is not as developed as its South Rim. There isn’t any visitor center here, and its ranger station has few staff members. However, this also reduces the amount of traffic on this side of the park and boasts more stunning views as compared to the other side. The cliffs in the North Rim are sheerer with incredible trails. Don’t miss out on exploring this side of the park, but be prepared for longer hikes.

Heading to the Hiking Trails

There are plenty of hiking trails all over the Black Canyon Park. All the trials have stunning views, particularly on the North Rim. The trails on this rim are usually secluded, making them ideal if you prefer the quiet. These trails are also rather challenging so prepare accordingly and avoid if you are a beginner. The hiking trails on the South Rim also offer beautiful views and are easier as compared to the strenuous ones on the North Rim.

Participating in the Ranger Programs

Different ranger-led programs and activities are organized within the park, including historical sessions, night sky viewings, seminars, or workshops on nature, geology, and more. Make sure you stop by at the visitor center, visit their website, or call in for the schedule to plan your trip accordingly.

Rock Climbing

This national park is one of the most popular climbing areas in the country, offering chills and thrills to the rock climbers. The Black Canyon has a Chasm View Wall with its classic long routes, as well as the ever-popular Painted Wall. Both of these walls provide the climbers a challenging climb that they are sure to enjoy. You must ensure that you get the updated information about the routes before you head towards the climb.

Catching Fishes

The Gunnison River is among the Gold Medal Water Rivers, meaning that the river offers outstanding opportunities to catch trophy-sized trout. The fishing starts from around 200 yards downstream from the Crystal Dam and runs with the North Fork, the north end side of the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area.

You will need to attain a fishing license to fish here. Moreover, anglers are only allowed to use lures or flies to catch the trout. If you are an expert hiker, then you can descend towards the strenuous canyon trials to reach the river. Otherwise, you can reach the lake by driving down the East Portal Road. There is also a campground here, making it an ideal fishing base camp. The Blue Mesa Reservoir situated nearby provides another opportunity for trout fishing.

The Best Trails in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

This national park is truly a sight to behold; all of the hiking trails here boast scenic views. On the inner side of the canyon, the hiking trails are so dangerous and steep that the National Park Service hasn’t even designated them as trials. It is certainly not an easy task to venture into the canyon. There are several great hikes along the North and South Rim of the park with different levels of hiking difficulty levels. You will also find several overlooks throughout the drive within the park.

If hiking is one of your prime activities for this trip then consider hiking on the following trials:

North Vista Trail

Adding a short urge trial towards the Exclamation Point while heading upwards to the Green Mountain is undoubtedly the greatest hike within the park. Keep in mind that this is not an easy trail, but you will be rewarded with the best view of the canyon. This trial is hardly ever crowded since it is a difficult one. The North Vista trail is near the ranger station on the North Rim.

Length: 6.5 miles

Difficulty: Strenuous

Warner Point Nature Trail

The majority of the viewpoint trials in this park are barely more than a stroll from the car parking. This trail might require you to put in a bit more effort to explore the deep side of the canyon from the Warner Point. You will be able to enjoy the West Elk Mountains towards the north and the San Juan Mountains towards the south side of the trial. This one is one of the most picturesque trails within the park.

Length: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Red Rock Canyon Route

Only eight hikers are allowed to hike on this trail every day. While it is the most managed trial that leads to the inner canyon, it goes through a private property, which is why there is limited access. However, this trial is also difficult. There isn’t any true trail here, so you will have to track your steps. Also, be on a lookout for poison ivy. The trailhead of this hike is near the Bostwick Park Road parking lot.

Length: 3.4 miles (one way)

Difficulty: Strenuous

Oak Flat Loop

This loop is a great trial for individuals hoping to enjoy the dramatic views of the canyon without having to descend to the bottom of the canyon. It is somewhat narrower in certain sections, and the path back towards the start is a bit rough.

Length: 1.3 miles in a loop

Difficulty: Moderate

Rim Rock Nature Trail

This nature trail is self-guided and follows the canyon’s South Rim. It is a fairly easy trail, suitable for all skill levels. You can enjoy the scenic views of the Gunnison River, as well as the sheer walls of the Black Canyon. The trailhead of this hike is right next to the Campground Loop, near the Visitor Center on the South Rim.

Length: 1.8 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Gunnison Route

If you are unable to hike the Red Rock Canyon Route, then this is another thrilling and popular hike that will take you to the inner canyon. It also includes an 80” chain almost one third down the hike to help the hikers in ascending or descending the steep path. The trailhead of this trial is off the Oak Flat Loop near the Visitor Center of the South Rim.

Length: 1 mile (one way)

Difficulty: Strenuous

No matter which trail you want to hike in, make sure that you are prepared for it. Take a large bottle of water and protein snacks. Always wear hiking boots and comfortable clothes when going on a hike. Be sure to get all the information from the park personnel before leaving for the hike. Follow their instructions carefully, and don’t ignore any warning signs posted within the park. Avoid hiking in bad weather, especially if you are planning to take one of the strenuous trials as the path will become more dangerous during the rain or storm.


Since it will probably take you two to three days to explore the Black Canyon of the Gunnison national park, you will need to find the right accommodations. There are plenty of accommodation options that you can select. You can reserve a campsite in the available campground in the park or book a nearby hotel to stay the night while you explore the park during the day. Let’s have a look at all the accommodations available to the visitors.

Camping Sites

There are three main camping grounds in this national park. It is best to reserve a spot in your preferred campground early on to avoid disappointments. Here are the campgrounds available for the campers:

East Portal Campground

This campground is situated within two miles downstream of the Crystal Dam of the canyon. Take the right turn after the entrance of the park and head on to the East Portal Road for five miles to reach the campground. Numerous box elder trees provide shade to almost the entire camping area. It is near the Gunnison River Diversion Tunnel, which means you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the river and even do some fishing.

There are a total of 15 spaces in this campground, which are all strictly first-come-first-served. If you are taking an RV or a trailer, keep in mind that vehicles over 22’ feet length are not allowed to enter due to the 16% steep grade of the road and narrow curves. This campground is open from May till October. Water is available only during the summer season.

North Rim Campground

This camping ground is situated about 16 miles south of Crawford, the last seven miles of the path is not paved. The Pinyon-Juniper forest provides shade to all the camping sites. Moreover, the campground often fills up fast during the fall and spring season, and sometimes in the summer. Spots on this site are also first-come-first-served. You can camp on this ground for a maximum of 14 days consecutively.

Each of the sites can accommodate eight or fewer people and two vehicles. Vehicles over 35’ feet are not allowed within this campground. The ground is open for campers from April to November. There are a total of 13 campsites in the ground. Water is available only from May till mid-September.

South Rim Campground

This campground is situated around six miles north of the CO Highway 347 intersection. All of the camping sites are within the oak-brush forest. The use of the generator is not allowed in this campground, but a few electrical hookups are available only in Loop B during the summer season. You can camp on this campground for a maximum of 14 days consecutively. The site can easily accommodate eight people or less and two vehicles. Loop C is first-come-first-served, but reservations can be made for Loop A and Loop B at least three days in advance. Loop A is open for campers all year long. There are a total of 88 camping spots here. Water is available from mid-May to mid-October. During the summer season, ranger programs are also offered.

Dogs are allowed on this campground. However, you are not allowed to take them out for walks. Moreover, you shouldn’t carry around your dog around the Rim Rock Trail or South Rim Campground because of aggressive deer protective of their fawns.

Hotels Nearby

If you rather stay at a while exploring the stunning sights of the Black Canyon, then there are various options available for you. Following are eight hotels near the park that you can consider for your stay:

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Montrose

This hotel is situated 20 miles drive away from the park. They offer a free airport shuttle, and their room features complimentary Wi-Fi and cable TV. There are plenty more amenities you can enjoy here if you want to take a break from your Black Canyon adventures or can’t go hiking due to bad weather.

Hampton Inn Montrose 

This hotel is situated 35 minutes' drive away from the Black Canyon National Park and merely 5 minutes drive from the Montrose Regional Airport. You can enjoy onsite Jacuzzi, indoor pool, and gym. You can even park your vehicle here free for an entire week! They also offer a complimentary airport shuttle.

Rodeway Inn Montrose 

 Located 20 minutes away from the Black Canyon National Park, this hotel offers daily breakfast and cable TV in all of their rooms. They also have an onsite seasonal pool. You can stay at this hotel at very affordable rates.

Days Inn by Wyndham

This hotel is another affordable accommodation near the national park. You can enjoy a continental breakfast, which they serve every morning. The hotel is situated in a central location, which will make it easy for you to explore the nearby areas as well.

GreenTree Inn

This hotel is located close to the airport and also offers airport shuttle services. If you are looking for pet-friendly accommodation, then this is an ideal hotel for you and your furry friend.

Double G Guestranch

Ideally situated near the Black Canyon of the Gunnison national park, this hotel boasts stunning garden views and even has a horse ranch. Free parking is also available for guests. You can even request dinner in advance and the owners will have it prepared for you on time.

Super 8 by Wyndham Montrose 

This motel is located around 12 miles drive away from the national park. You can enjoy a continental breakfast here every morning. It is not only affordable but also offers scenic views from the rooms.

Hotchkiss Inn Motel 

This model offers free Wi-Fi for the guests and serves delicious continental breakfast every morning. The Black Canyon Park is 54 miles away from this place. After your adventures in the park, you can relax on the patio of this motel overlooking the mountains. There are also various restaurants near this motel where you can enjoy a hearty meal.

These are some of the many accommodations available near the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. You can reserve a campsite or rooms in your preferred hotel. Whichever accommodation you select, ensure that you go through the terms and conditions and reserve the room in advance, especially if you are visiting during the peak season.

Tips for a Safe and Stress-Free Trip

To have the best experience exploring the wonders of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison national park, you must be well-prepared and be vigilant about the safety guidelines. Since this park has various unmaintained trials for hiking and steep walls for climbing, safety must be your priority.

Safety Precautions to Take

There are various safety guidelines that you should thoroughly go through and follow throughout your time at the park.

Encountering Wild Bears

Occasionally, black bears roam around the campgrounds of the park, looking for food. It can indeed be a rather exciting event in any campers' life, and you will be tempted to leave food for them. However, any bears that gradually become habituated to the humans and their food will, unfortunately, have to be killed. Therefore, the campers are discouraged from feeding the bears any food to ensure their longevity.

Here are the rules of the campgrounds you must follow:

  • Always make use of the bear-proof lockers available to store your food in, as well as other scented products. These include bug repellant, sunscreens, tobacco, deodorant, toothpaste, and beverages (except for water)
  • If you can’t find an empty locker, keep the food and scented items in your vehicle. Be sure to lock your vehicle and secure the windows shut.
  • Always clean up the table and campsite after you are done eating
  • Be sure to lock the dumpsters securely after depositing the trash

Encountering Other Wildlife

The visitors are requested to watch the wildlife from a safe distance. You should never try to feed, approach, or disrupt the wildlife. During your hikes, avoid making any loud noises so that you don’t disturb or surprise any wildlife. Make sure you always have your backpack within arm’s reach. While it is rare to see a mountain lion or a black bear in the park, it is still best to know what to do if you encounter them. Here is how to behave in such cases:

  • Ensure the lion or bear has a path to escape. The majority of animals avoid confrontation.
  • If the lion or bear are with their young, give them additional space since they aggressively protect their young
  • Swiftly hold on to or pick up any child who is with you
  • You should make eye contact with the lion, but never with a bear
  • Be calm and composed. Firmly speak to the animal.
  • In case the lion or bear doesn’t leave, slowly start backing away to leave the area. Never run or turn your back

General Safety Precautions

Here are a few other safety precautions you must follow in the park:

  • When you are on an overlook, keep in mind that there will be several rock climbers or hikers below any of the overlooks. Therefore, never throw anything from the overlook. Even a tiny rock can prove fatal for someone.
  • Children must be supervised at all times. The edges of the rim are hazardous, so be vigilant.
  • Always keep dogs on a leash
  • The peak of the canyon is about 8,000 feet above the level of the sea. Always walk or climb slowly and keep yourself hydrated.
  • All the climbing routes are a bit complex. You might find clear lines and clean crack, but soon enough, they can disappear. It can get you off the route and into a dangerous situation. So always be careful about the surroundings.
  • There are various loose rocks in the Black Canyon, make sure to double-check the holds before you climb forward.
  • Always wear a helmet when climbing as you might be in danger of loose rocks falling from above.
  • If the climb seems too dangerous or overwhelming for you, don’t be afraid to climb back down. Make sure you are aware of your abilities. Don’t play with your life just to show off.
  • While there is a rescue team available, it can take time since the paths are highly technical. Be prepared for a self-rescue, and avoid relying on others to help you out.

RV Camping Tips

If you are heading to the park in your RV, then the following tips can enhance your experience:

  • Determining the location to camp with your RV – all the4 campgrounds in both the rims in the park are RV friendly. Therefore, it is up to you to decide where you want to camp. The South Rim is open for campers all year long. Make sure to reserve your spot beforehand. Make sure you check any specific requirement for the vehicles allowed in the campground before you head out to avoid any disappointments.
  • Always make sure that you check out at the specified time. Just like hotels, the campgrounds have set check out times. There might be other campers who have reserved the spot after you. So make sure you have packed up well before your checkout time.
  • Make sure you clean up thoroughly before leaving. How would you feel if you excitedly arrive at your reserved camping spot to find it littered? Since you expect the spot to be neat and clean when you arrive, so do the campers arriving after you. Clear off the trash and excess food, and leave the site clean and ready for the next family to enjoy.
  • Avoid making loud noises while you are camping. Be mindful of other campers who want to enjoy the peace of the park. If you are using an entertainment center, keep the volume low. Make sure all the noises are at the minimum.
  • Always respect any boundaries, safety rules, or other guidelines provided to you by the park’s personnel.
  • Keep a good distance from other campers to respect their privacy.

When you follow the specified safety precautions and rules, you will have a better time enjoying the park. Follow these tips to keep yourself and others safe.

Final Words

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of the national parks in the country you wouldn’t want to miss – especially if you are an adventure seeker. There is plenty of exciting activities to do around the park while enjoying the stunning view of the canyon and the river. The deeper you head towards the inner canyon, the more mesmerized you will get with the beauty and wonder of this massive canyon. Whether you want to climb,camp, or hike, this is a great place to indulge in an adrenaline rush.

To make the fullest of what this park has to offer, make sure you thoroughly plan your itinerary, along with the activities you are planning to do here. Reserve your accommodations beforehand, and check the upcoming ranger-led programs in the park. Pack your luggage according to the season to be comfortable throughout your trip and always follow the instructions and guidelines highlighted by the park personnel.

Follow all the details and suggestions in this guide to have a memorable time exploring the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

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