Black Canyon of the Gunnison Inner Canyon Three-Day Backpack (5/3 to 5/5)

RESCHEDULED DUE TO WEATHER

Explore the Black Canyon of the Gunnison on this three-day backpack to the inner canyon wilderness area.   So deep that it is difficult for sunlight to penetrate to the bottom, the inner canyon of the Black offers a wealth of activities to those willing to make the journey. Be warned, however: access to the inner canyon is through routes (not trails), which means that backpackers will be faced with steep slopes, unsure footing, difficult route-finding, and Class 3 scrambling.  The reward for the effort will be a unique perspective of North America's steepest, deepest, and narrowest canyon.

The Inner Canyon as viewed from the canyon floor

Important: If you RSVP for this trip, use the Meetup message system to e-mail me the information requested below. Once the information is received, I will respond with a confirmation e-mail. If I do not receive this information from you in a reasonable timeframe, I will remove you from the RSVP list to make room for others. As always, please consider carefully whether you can attend before you RSVP.

Requested Information: Name / e-mail address / cell phone # / emergency contact name & number

 

Here's the plan:

  • May 3 @ 10 am: Arrive at the Mammoth parking lot (39°[masked]'N / 105°[masked]'W) at I-70 & Hwy 40 near Golden, CO to arrange carpools. Depart at approx. 10:30 am for the five-hour drive to the North Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, stopping for lunch on the way.
  • May 3 @ 4 pm: Arrive at the North Rim Campground (38°[masked]'N / 107°[masked]'W).  Leave the vehicles behind and hike 1.75 difficult miles down S.O.B. Draw (sounds lovely, right?), dropping 1,800 feet in elevation during the process.  Hike downstream along the canyon bottom to the beach beneath the Painted Wall and set up camp.

The Beach Beneath the Painted Wall

  • May 4: Explore the inner canyon.  Opportunities include hiking, world-class rock climbing, Gold Medal fishing, kayaking, and wildlife watching.  For myself, I plan on hiring a professional guide to lead a 5.9 rock climb in the area of S.O.B. Draw.  If others would also like to participate in guided rock climbing, the cost will be approximately $275 per person when the climber to guide ratio is 2:1; for a ratio of 1:1, the cost is approximately $395 per person.  Contact me if you would be interested in this and we will make arrangements offline.  Further details on the rock climb route can be found below.
  • May 5:   Pack up camp and hike S.O.B. Draw back up to the vehicles.  Return to civilization.

 

Waiver and Release:

Please Note: Participants attending this trip must sign the Colorado Backpackers and Campers Meetup Group - Terms of Understanding and Signup Sheet. This can be found on the site under: More - Files - Terms of Understanding and Signup Sheet. Your e-mail to me with the requested information will act as your electronic signature & acknowledgment that you have read and understand the Terms of Understanding and Signup Sheet . If this is not received, I cannot guarantee that you will receive all the trip info including trail head location, time changes, carpooling info, or other final planning information. If no response to this you will be removed.

Make sure you can attend before you RSVP 'Yes' for this trip. Please read the RSVP Policy at the bottom! The RSVP Policy is also located in our "About" section.

  • Scenery: 5 - Unbelievable
  • Difficulty: Difficult and strenuous - the route to the inner canyon is only 1.75 miles long, but it is very steep and will often require that both hands and knees are on the ground.  The National Park Service recommends that only individuals in excellent physical condition attempt this hike
  • Solitude: Hoping for a 5 (Not Another Soul)
  • Trail Length: 3.5 miles roundtrip; 1.75 miles daily
  • Elevation Gain: Max gross elevation gain of 1,800 ft in any one day

The Painted Wall - Photo by Lightvision (Panoramio)

Additional information:

  • Topographic maps of the route can be provided upon request.
  • Water: The Gunnison River at the canyon bottom will provide a treatable water source.
  • Elevation range: 5,800 ft to 7,600 ft.
  • Expected temps: Average temperatures in early May on the canyon rim are 40°F as a low, 68°F as a high.  Temperatures in the inner canyon are typically 8°F warmer than at the rim.
  • Trail: S.O.B. Draw is famous for its abundant poison ivy; long pants and gloves are recommended.  The route also has short ledges to climb (8 to 12 ft).  At the bottom of the canyon, scrambling over large rocks and potential fording of the river may be required.
  • Rock climbing: I plan on climbing the Maiden Voyage, which is a 5.9 multi-pitch traditional climb.  The guide outfit I'm using are the Crested Butte Mountain Guides.  Further details on the Maiden Voyage are here: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/the-maiden-voyage-aka-the-red-dihedral/105750415
  • Dogs: Dogs are not allowed in the inner canyon.
  • Permits: A free wilderness use permit will be required.  It can be filled out upon arrival.
  • Fees: There is a $15/vehicle entrance fee to the park. We can minimize our costs by consolidating into as few vehicles as possible before entering the park.
  • Carpooling: Yes...backpackers are invited to carpool from the Mammoth Parking lot in Golden. If more convenient due to your location, you may instead meet us directly at the North Rim Campground.
  • Campfires are not allowed in the inner canyon.
  • We will follow the PACK-IT-IN PACK-IT-OUT LEAVE NO TRACE and current Wilderness regulations.
  • If you don't know what to pack see the SUGGESTED Backpacking List under More - Files on the Meetup site.
  • Don't forget your camera!

The Inner Canyon as viewed from the canyon rim

Contact: I will send out planning/reminder/coordination emails to all the 'YES' RSVP participants. These emails will contain my personal contact information so all participants can easily contact me with questions. I will expect a timely response to these so that I know you haven't forgotten, are still going, know what is going on and what is expected of you as a participant. If I don't get your response within a reasonable time frame, you'll be removed from the 'Yes' RSVP slot so others can sign up.

Join or login to comment.

  • Chris B.

    2 · May 15, 2013

    • Paula R.

      BTW CSprgs rescued Longmont man!

      1 · May 15, 2013

    • Jared D.

      I was wondering when I'd see this in the news. Thanks for posting Chris!

      May 15, 2013

  • Chris B.

    Just a quick update. I went to the orthopedic doctor today. They took the splint off and said it looked good. No drainage, etc. I was fitted with a boot and go back next Friday to have the staples removed.

    3 · May 9, 2013

    • Chris B.

      Jared: I believe, yesterday, I removed my RSVP on that BP trip. Even though I might think I might be ready by then, it's best I not put myself in a situation that soon.

      Little by little, I can tell my ankle is ever so slowly getting better. My range of motion is improving. I took a photo of the incision point and counted 25 staples. I look like Frankenstein. I can post the photo if anyone is curious...but not sure if anyone here is "that interested". LOL

      May 10, 2013

    • Jared D.

      Chris: After seeing your injury, I'm astounded that you could be ready to get back on your foot again as early as June. That's great progress! As for the photo of the staples, yeah I think we may want to leave that off Meetup ; )

      May 11, 2013

  • Charlie

    Overall this was a epic trip. Jared should be praised for how he lead this trip. We did have a fall on the first day, but it brought us all together intensely. It was wonderful to be around such incredible individuals.

    1 · May 6, 2013

    • Chris B.

      Charlie....I need to reimburse you for the expense of the crutches you had purchased for me. Thank you for your time and effort in helping me. If you have PayPal I can make a transfer or a mailing address? My email address is [masked]

      Thanks,
      Chris

      May 7, 2013

  • Jared D.

    Beautiful but treacherous; that’s how I’d describe the Black Canyon. I want to commend everyone for making the best of the situation we found ourselves in. I was totally impressed with the positive attitude everyone maintained throughout the weekend (and this goes double for the individual who was injured). Every one of you made valuable contributions that helped mitigate the emergency we experienced. And of course, many thanks to the National Park Service’s Search-and-Rescue team: they are AWESOME! I hope you all enjoyed our adventure...I know I’m going to remember this trip for a long, long time.

    3 · May 6, 2013

    • Chris B.

      I never expected the weekend to unfold as it did. Especially when we were within 20 minutes of the camp site. A crisis is always immune to experience, strength or courage; however, it takes those three to over come one.

      Charlie, Paula, Steve, Dustin and, especially, Jared....I can't thank all of you enough for everything you did as a team effort to help make my ordeal as comfortable and safe as possible. A group of six people that were more or less perfect strangers all stepped in at a time of need to help one of their own. It was quite a remarkable experience that I certainly will not forget.

      NPS Ranger Vic and Medic Mike were equally just as professional in their time spent in my rescue. Forgoing nearly two days of sleep, along with everyone else, they were there every step of the way to pull me out of the canyon.
      ...

      3 · May 7, 2013

    • Chris B.

      ...continued...

      I can't even describe the feeling of being pulled in a basket by so many people that I've never met that all had the same goal of getting me to safety. The final moment of being pulled over the rim and then being hand passed by what seemed like an endless line of men and women involved in the rescue was a very life changing experience. To see all the faces of those that risked their own safety to pull me to safety was the most humbling experience I had ever encountered. One I certainly will never forget.

      I'm not even sure if I will ever have the opportunity to personally thank all of those within the Search and Rescue Teams who came from all over the state. They were the finest example of a coordinated team effort that executed their rescue plan that didn't endanger anyone. I highly salute each and every one of them.

      Chris

      3 · May 7, 2013

  • Jared D.

    Okay everyone, here’s your weather forecast for the weekend. We can expect sunny or mostly sunny weather each day. High temperatures should be in the low 60’s at the canyon rim, with low temperatures forecast to be in the mid-to-upper 30’s. The Park Rangers tell me this is going to be a great weekend to visit the Canyon!

    Charlie and Paula are planning on driving straight to the Black Canyon from Colorado Springs. I presume everyone else is planning on meeting at the Wooly Mammoth parking lot near Golden. Dustin will be taking his own vehicle, and I think everyone else can fit in mine. Let’s plan on meeting in the parking lot right across the road from the Conoco gas station.

    Cell phones don’t work in the canyon. If you have a two-way radio, I suggest bringing that. I’ll be bringing a pair with me.

    So you tomorrow!

    1 · May 2, 2013

    • Jared D.

      Chris: Boy, that's hard to predict. I do think that, unless we make it a very early morning on Sunday, we will be arriving back in the metro area very close to the 6pm mark. This is simply because the NPS says it takes three hours to ascend out of S.O.B. Draw and it is almost a five hour drive.

      May 2, 2013

    • Chris B.

      Jared...Yeah, that's what I was thinking on both accounts. I'll just have to pick her up Monday. No sense in rushing things. :) Thanks.

      May 2, 2013

  • Chris B.

    Has the recent snow impacted the plans for this trip?

    May 1, 2013

    • Jared D.

      Chris: The Black Canyon did get some snow this morning, but the good news is that is has melted already. Check it out on the live webcams here: http://www.nps.gov/bl...­

      It will be cold at night, but the forecast isn’t calling for any further precipitation until Sunday. So for now the trip is still a go!

      1 · May 1, 2013

  • Jared D.

    Hope you are ready, because the Black Canyon trip is just around the corner! Listen: we are all familiar with the phrase "pack it in, pack it out" right? Well, when it comes to the Black Canyon, that phrase can also be applied to human waste. Due to the limited shore space, it is sometimes difficult to maintain the minimum 200-foot distance from the water that the NPS asks visitors to observe when “heeding nature’s call” in the inner canyon wilderness area.

    So what am I getting at here? Well, the NPS recommends that visitors utilize personal travel toilets for overnight camping trips, and haul the waste out when they leave. You can get one for pretty cheap at REI; I think they call them “wag bags”. Since we’ll be a relatively large group, I want to make sure we do everything we can to tread lightly…we want to be good stewards of this amazing place!

    1 · April 30, 2013

    • Chris B.

      Funny that you bring up the point about total pack it out. I was curious about that since the proximity to the water source. Thanks for covering that point.

      April 30, 2013

  • Dustin

    Getting pumped about the trip this weekend! I plan on meeting at the Wooly Mammoth lot and taking my car to Black Canyon. Someone can ride with me there, but I'm heading to TX afterwards for work... See ya Friday!

    April 29, 2013

    • Jared D.

      Yes, I'm excited too. Things are still looking a bit cooler than normal for this time of year, but I think the forecast is good enough to give this trip a shot.

      Glad you mentioned your driving plans. Since you won’t be coming back to the Mammoth Parking lot, we’ll need to make sure we bring enough vehicles to shuttle everyone without your car. I’m able to fit myself and five other passengers in my vehicle, so I’m thinking a total of three vehicles (mine, yours, and one more) should do it.

      April 29, 2013

    • Steve J.

      I only have a gas hog van with one passenger seat so I'll need to ride with someone

      April 29, 2013

  • Andy D.

    I did the SOB Draw descent/ascent yesterday and it was a glorious hike! Bring a good pair of gloves as you'll be grabbing angular and sharp rocks the whole time. Wish I could spend a few nights down there; maybe later this Spring.

    April 28, 2013

    • Andy D.

      Perfect weather! The night was a bit chilly, maybe low-40's. The day was t-shirt weather; maybe mid-70's, although the afternoon sun and workout made it feel somewhat hotter. The total trip, including about an hour eating lunch & getting water, took about five hours. We took our time, as my girlfriend isn't as fit as she should be

      April 29, 2013

    • Jared D.

      lol, glad you had a great time. And I won't tell your girlfriend you said that ; )

      April 29, 2013

  • Talya

    Jared, just clarifying...the route is challenging but not technical, right? thanks

    April 26, 2013

    • Jared D.

      Talya: That's right. The route down S.O.B. Draw is steep and difficult, but it won't require any technical climbing skills or ropes

      April 26, 2013

  • Steve J.

    next weekend is good for me as well!

    April 23, 2013

  • David

    Saw the change, I am still in.

    April 23, 2013

  • Dick M.

    Schedule conflict- maybe next time.

    April 23, 2013

    • Dick M.

      I think the scheduling was spot on - the weather is not. But, I am developing a bad case of cabin fever and have three vaction days scheduled. I am pulling out the maps.

      April 23, 2013

    • Jared D.

      Understandable; it’s been a long winter for me, too. When you get your plans together, you should consider letting Anca know; I know her and her friends were hoping to get out this weekend as well.

      April 23, 2013

  • Caroline

    If I am able to go, I am interested in doing some easier rock climbing... Do you know if there any top rope sites that don't require a guide?

    April 23, 2013

    • Jared D.

      Caroline: Unfortunately for beginner rock climbers, there are no top rope climbs in the Black Canyon (if there were, I'd definitely be doing that!). All climbs are multi-pitch traditional routes, with the easiest being rated 5.8

      April 23, 2013

  • Jared D.

    The Black Canyon has received plenty of snow in the last week. Temps are forecast to warm into the 50’s next week, likely melting the snow before our trip. Problem is, it could make S.O.B. Draw a muddy mess, which will result in the hike being that much harder. Also, right now the forecast I’m looking at is calling for temperatures about 10 degrees lower than normal.

    I plan on contacting the park rangers early next week to ask about conditions in the inner canyon and the forecast for the weekend. If conditions aren’t looking favorable, I’ll be pushing the trip back one week (to May 3rd through the 5th) in order to allow the route to dry out and things to warm up a bit. If conditions still aren’t looking good by then, then due to my schedule I’ll need to push the trip all the way back to May 31st through June 2nd.

    Just wanted to give you a heads-up on the potential schedule changes for the trip. If the dates do get changed, I hope you can all still attend!

    April 19, 2013

    • Steve J.

      This weekend or any of the afore mentioned dates look good for me! Looking forward to an awesome experience and am psyched to pushing myself to and beyond boundries... Life is short -bring it on!!!!!

      April 20, 2013

  • Anca

    My two friends are joining from Grand Junction--which way are we planning on driving, I'm wondering where they can meet us if possible. Also, is anyone going from Northern area, I will be coming from Ft Collins and can carpool from up here.

    April 6, 2013

    • Steve J.

      Her's my info: Steve Janney

      April 20, 2013

    • Steve J.

      Steve Janney-[masked], [masked]... emergency contact: Jennifer Janney,[masked]

      April 20, 2013

  • Anca

    If conditions are questionable for the Canyon, would anyone be interested in a different area maybe around grand junction/Moab, the Sand Dunes or some other place?

    April 20, 2013

    • Chris B.

      Hi An ~ Sounds like a good possibility. Something spectacular would be great since the commute is a great distance.

      April 20, 2013

  • Chris B.

    If anyone is interested, I came across the NPS web page that gives a little more info. This will be my first BP trip in many years and looking forward if conditions permit.

    http://www.nps.gov/blca/planyourvisit/hikinginnercanyon.htm

    April 20, 2013

  • Dick M.

    FWIW: The quad for this trip is Grizzly Ridge. The USGS has that map on the print to order list. They need about a half hour to print it at the federal center.

    April 18, 2013

  • Julie

    I would love a topo map as well so I can check it out and be prepared! DreamingAlong at gmail - Thank you!

    April 17, 2013

  • Lindsay

    would also love a topo map. rugbysuperman at gmail - thanks!

    April 16, 2013

  • Julie

    Sadly, we have to back out of this trip. Hope our spots fill quickly. Apologies.

    April 11, 2013

    • Jared D.

      Sorry to hear that Julie. See you on a future trip!

      April 11, 2013

    • Julie

      Me, too, Jared. Thanks and hope to see you soon.

      April 11, 2013

  • Keith F.

    Jared, I can't make this trip but would appreciate the topo map if it's in digital format. I'd like to try it this summer some time. I plan to spend much of the summer in CO, hanging out and hiking. email: [masked] Thanks.

    April 11, 2013

  • Ali B

    should we bring a helmet? I can't remember if you said you were bring rope.

    April 10, 2013

    • Jared D.

      Ali: I will be bringing a helmet because it is needed for the rock climbing I plan on doing. For everyone else, bringing a helmet would be a good idea (to protect from accidental rockfall) but it is not required for the hike down S.O.B. Draw; neither is a rope. The video near the bottom of the following webpage should give you a good idea of what to expect on this route: http://www.nps.gov/bl...­

      April 10, 2013

  • Jared D.

    I’m not trying to frighten anybody off of this trip, but a backpacker recently perished in the Black Canyon and I felt it should be mentioned if only to reinforce that treks to the inner canyon are difficult and potentially dangerous. Article here: http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_22988257/body-believed-be-missing-hiker-found-black-canyon

    Based on the limited information in the article, it sounds like the deceased was backpacking by themselves and likely fell from the south rim. I don’t know if it would have made a difference in this case, but to me this confirms my belief that you should not backpack alone. I’m sure the desire to increase our safety while in the backcountry is why many of us joined this group in the first place. My intent mentioning this unfortunate event is to remind us all to take safety seriously, not only on this trip but on all trips we attend.

    April 9, 2013

  • Sean

    Sounds awesome...I might go...will know for sure around the 1st of the month..I'd just be hiking and taking pics...haven't been in the canyon since a kid

    March 22, 2013

  • Lila

    I want to participate in the guided rock climbing.

    March 22, 2013

  • Julie

    I'm definitely interested! I would probably just be interested in hiking around and exploring on April 27. I have backpacking, climbing, alpine and mountaineering experience as well.

    March 20, 2013

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sometimes the best Meetup Group is the one you start

Get started Learn more
Katie

I'm surprised by the level of growth I've seen since becoming an organizer, it's given me more confidence in my abilities.

Katie, started NYC ICO

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy