If you’re planning to visit the park, there are a few specific things you’ll want to know. There’s not much cell service in the park nor is there much in the way of amenities (there are no places for food or drink and few ranger stations), so you need to be a bit more prepared than you would for a park like Yosemite, where you can get basically anything you need within the park boundaries.

    • Avoiding poison ivy along the river is nearly impossible. If you hike, camp, or kayak by the river, know that you’re likely to cross poison ivy’s path. In this area, the irritant can grow up to five feet tall.
    • Leashed pets are allowed at Black Canyon OTG. They’re allowed at campgrounds and overlooks and on three trails: the Cedar Point Nature Trail, North Rim Chasm View Nature Trail, and Rim Rock Trail.
    • Hikes into the canyon are not a good place to test yourself if you’re inexperienced or unsure. Only venture down if you’re confident in your navigation and hiking skills. Remember that what goes down must go up. It’s remote and trails aren’t maintained. Carry a map, GPS, plenty of food and water, and possibly a satellite comms device
    • All water sources in the park (other than the fill-up stations) are contaminated with giardia. Purification tablets or equipped water bottles are a must if you plan to camp or might need to refill your supply.
    • Black Canyon is a unique bubble of untouched wilderness. Please keep it that way. Always remember to leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photos. Bring an extra bag to hike out any trash you find on the trails.
bear on a dumpster in colorado

Photo: Carla Ferro/Shutterstock

  • Be mindful of the wildlife here and don’t feed them or get close. Larger animals, such as mountain lions and black bears, live here. You need to store anything with a scent (including lip balm and deodorant) in a bear locker or bear bin. Make noise when you’re moving around tight corners with poor lines of sight, but don’t bother with a bear bell (they can be quite annoying to other hikers). Familiarize yourself with what to do in the very rare case that you do have a close encounter with a large animal.
  • There are no places to eat within the park, but you can buy some very basic snack bar-type snacks at the shop at the visitor’s center. But you’d be better served buying snacks in Montrose or Gunnison, but keep in mind you’ll need to use a bear-proof food storage locker (available at most parking lots) rather than leaving food in your car.