Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of Colorado’s lesser known treasures. A solid 4.5 hours drive from Denver, this National park is so much less crowded than it should be. After touring the park’s south rim with my jaw on the floor, I asked the rangers at the visitor center why more people don’t come here to see this amazingly dramatic gorge – and the rangers put their fingers to their lips and said “shhhh!” But I truly believe that majestic landscapes SHOULD be visited and appreciated. (Sorry guys!) And if you create a special memory there, joining your life to your beloved’s – even better. So – let me take you on a virtual tour of one of Colorado’s most stunning places to elope!
Black canyon of the Gunnison is divided into three sections – the south rim, the east portal, and the north rim. The North rim and the East Portal are closed in winter. Most of the south Rim is also closed after November, but it is possible to snowshoe beyond Gunnison point for a magical winter elopement at Black canyon of the Gunnison. (omg! Can you imagine how pretty that could be??) The East portal road has a steep 16% grade, so only attempt it if you know your vehicle can make it down and back up, but the river access and camping at the bottom is to die for. I hear there are otters in the river, ample shade from big cottonwoods, and it’s basically heaven on earth in the fall. Painted Wall, the most famous and iconic section of the canyon, rises 2247 feet from the river floor. It’s the highest cliff in Colorado, and one of my favorite viewpoints in the park.
There’s so much to see here that you will want to spend a few days. There are a few local campgrounds within the park from which to plan your adventures. I loved the Grand Canyon, but found this Colorado canyon to be more interesting and diverse, and now I’m dying to shoot an adventurous couple’s elopement at Black canyon of the Gunnison! It’s also one of the few locations that could be photographed at any time of day and look good – so if you’re not up for a sunrise elopement, you can still have incredible elopement photos in Colorado. Surrounded by mountain ranges, the area is similar to the Maroon Bells in that the weather can change in an instant, and rain showers are common. I wouldn’t let this deter you, as the storms pass quite quickly and leave the canyon gleaming with sparkling sunlight and, if you’re lucky, rainbows for days. YUP, THIS IS REAL LIFE.
The park’s south rim is the best place to elope between May and October. The rim drive is as scenic as it gets, and the many pull-offs provide plenty of options to explore and plan an intimate elopement at Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The steep and narrow section of the canyon is take-your-breath-away stunning, but every single viewpoint has a different view, each seeming more stunning than the last. Some observation areas have decks that would be perfect for an elopement ceremony, others have ugly railings, and most have natural terrain as well. One thing is guaranteed: it will make for incredibly epic Colorado elopement photos!!
You will need a special use permit to elope at Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and plan to apply at least four weeks in advance. Call the ranger station to highlight how your plans will have minimal impact to park resources and not to interfere with other park visitors. The cost for your special use permit is $100-300. Because this park is seldom used for these events, you’ll want to have as much location information as possible when you contact the park to make it easier for them to approve your request, so chat with me first about which viewpoint and time of day might be right for you. If you are looking for an amazing hidden gem with world class scenery for your destination elopement in Colorado – you’ve found it.
Here are all the spots I’d recommend for an epic elopement at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. To make this map interactive, please shoot me an email and we’ll chat about your goals, and I can go over which of the view points might suit you best in each season. What do you say? Ready to start your Black Canyon of the Gunnison elopement plans with me?