Visiting the Busier Side of Black Canyon of the Gunnison: the South Rim, Colorado

Even though we could see the South Rim every time we visited the North Rim of the Black Canyon, it was a bit of a trek to actually get there. However, given that the only visitor’s center and gift shop were at the South Rim, we ventured over twice: once as a family on a very rainy, cloudy day, and once just me and Bird as a Saturday adventure.

Just outside of Montrose, Colorado, the South Rim is, generally speaking, the more accessible side and thus is the much busier side. Where we could visit the North Rim and see virtually no other visitors, the South Rim was bustling on both our visits (like elbow-to-elbow in the gift shop…ew).

On our visit as a family, we made quick work of it as the rain and clouds engulfed the canyon. Even though most overlooks are a short distance from the road, it was pretty miserable getting to them, and we only ended up going to one together then I ran to another just to snap a few pictures. However, we accomplished our primary objective: visit the gift shop and get our usual postcard, sticker, and token.

Our schedule throughout the summer was challenging in that Will’s and my weekends did not align. While I could occasionally alter my schedule to take a Tuesday or Wednesday off so we all could spend the day together, I also really needed consistent time on those Tuesdays and Wednesdays to get some work done. Because of that, Bird and I were able to go on some amazing adventures, including hiking the Warner Point Nature Trail.

For us, Montrose was the closest “city” with all the stores, but at over an hour away, it was not necessarily an easy trip. Getting to the South Rim from there was another half hour, or so, again, it was a whole thing.

Bird and I decided to make a day of our adventure, starting with a few errands to pick up some lunch, enjoying a nice hike on the trail, and ending with a much-needed Target run.

The trail is advertised as a 1.5-mile out-and-back trail. While I knew this was at the higher end of Bird’s capabilities, we were both up for the challenge. And she did absolutely amazing. There were more steps than I had envisioned, and even though I did give her a few short piggyback rides, she hiked the majority of the trail on her own. In the sparkly shoes she insisted on wearing.

The views at the end of the trail were breathtaking (mostly because they were beautiful but also because I was with a 3-year-old and we were a little close to the edge of the canyon), and we found a great rock to sit on, relax for a few minutes, and enjoy a snack (aka “nackie”)…just a short distance from where we had to stop and rest and enjoy our lunch.

Obviously, the views from the South Rim are different than what we enjoyed on the North Rim, but given the drive to get there and the undoubtedly large number of people we would encounter, the North Rim was the side that really captured our hearts.

I am so grateful for our summer of Mama/Bird adventures that pushed me out of my comfort zone and also proved that we love a good adventure, especially when we get to go together.

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