When we searched Google Maps for a place to ride while we are in Colorado, we found what looked like a cool little road just outside of Montrose. Little did we know at the time we would be riding right into a National Park!!!
As we rode up RT 347 expecting to find winding roads leading to
After paying the entrance fee and obtaining a map, we decide to make our way over towards the visitor center. Before we got to the visitor center we stopped into the first of many scenic overlooks.
Overlooking The Gunnison River
The scenery was absolutely stunning. There we stood overlooking the Gunnison River wondering if we could get down to it. As luck would have it a park ranger just happened to stop by. After drilling him for information, we found out there was a road that
There Is Camping
In order to check out the campground and road down to the river, we would have to turn around and back towards the entrance booth. We decide to move forward towards the visitors center and explore the campground and river later in the day.
When we arrived at the visitor center we realized since this is a national park, it must have a cancelation stamp. We than realized after a few times of visiting national parks and forgetting our book to get stamped, this time we actually had it!!! Our new storage place was in the camera case. After all, we are never without the camera when we are out exploring!!!
Check Out The Short Movie
After stamping our book and looking at the displays in the visitor center, we decided to watch a short movie on the history of the park and river. We’re such tourists…lol.
At the rear of the visitor center was a deck with more incredible views and around the side were a couple of picnic tables. Off the rear deck were a couple of short trails that lead to observation areas. Yup, more photo ops. We spent a while on the trails exploring a couple of different paths and no matter where we were the views were just incredible.
Time For Lunch
After walking the trails, which were not exactly level, we decided to grab the lunch box we always carry in the bike and utilize the picnic tables on the side of the building. What a great way to enjoy a relaxing lunch!!!
After heading out from the visitor center we continued down the only road in this part of the park. It turns out it goes a few miles down and dead ends to a parking area with numerous trails you can hike. Along the way to that parking area is about a half a dozen or so pull offs with scenic overlooks.
That Would Be To Easy
These scenic overlooks are not what you’re thinking. You don’t pull over, get out of your vehicle (or off your vehicle in our case…lol), and start snapping pictures. Oh no. That would be to easy. Once you pull in an overlook parking area, there is a short to medium hike out to the overlook.
As with the visitor center, they are not flat. You’re either heading up on your way out and down on your way back or vice a versa. They also vary in distance from about 100 yards to 6 or 700 yards. One thing was common to all, the scenery was fantastic.
End Of The Road
Once you reach the end loop/turn around there is a fair amount of parking, hiking trails, and a restroom. There are awesome views from multiple areas of this parking lot.
Now it’s time to head back towards the entrance gate and campground. The camping section is made up of 3 loops. There are no hookups. It is suggested that you fill your water tanks before arriving at the campground.
Make The Left Just Before The Exit
Once you leave the camping section and are heading back towards the booth/exit, you will notice a road on your left side that is just before the booth. If you make the left onto this road it will take you down to the water and dam.
Be advised it is a sharply declining road with many twists and turns so be careful on your brakes or they will heat up and you will loose them. There is a dirt parking area about 3/4 down. If you feel you want to let your brakes cool a bit, this is a good place to stop.
Time To Stretch/Relax/Grab some Photos
Once at the bottom you will be at the banks of the Gunnison River. There are a few picnic tables and restrooms available. Although you can see the dam, it is fenced off preventing you from getting in to close. It’s still a great area for photo ops. You will also be at the site of the Gunnison tunnel.
Although when we first set out for our ride we thought we were just going to ride a winding road, we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in a national park. You can spend as much or as little time as you want but either way you will be rewarded with some awesome scenery. Would we return?
Absolutely yes!!! As a matter of fact, our entry fee/ticket was good for 7 days and we did return. The first time we filmed the ride and the second time we actually got off the bike and checked out every scenic overlook.
There Are 167 Photos Of This National Park
Date Of Visit: June 5th, 2019
Entrance Fee: $20 Auto/ $15 Motorcycle
Designated a National Park: October 21st, 1999
Pet-Friendly: Click Here for Pet Restrictions