Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park


Backcountry Nordic Skiing – Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Ski out 'n back on the S. Rim Road

  • Mon, Jan 15, 2024
  • Gore Range Group
  • Backcountry Nordic Skiing
  • Adults
  • Easy to Moderate
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 6.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 8,300 ft
  • Pace: 1.5

Ready to ski at 10:30 AM from the South Rim Visitor Center parking to ski the S. Rim Rd. I expect the  National Park entrance fee to be waived at this time, but if you have NP pass, bring it just in case. 

Ski out 'n back on the S. Rim Road- We will ski to as many overlooks on the S. Rim Rd as the group pace & ability allow. Max distance is 12 mi round trip, with up to 1450' elevation gain. Cutting the trip short at 6 mi would also cut the elev gain by about half.

Leader has not done this trip. Explore with me! Altho the NPS states the road is groomed, I expect backcountry touring skis would be best for the conditions. I will bring kicker skins as well.  

Be prepared for variable weather and trail conditions.

Reference links: 

This link has some great photos and description of the trail as far as Pulpit Rock at just under 2 mi out.

"The South Rim Cross Country Ski trail is located in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park near Montrose, Colorado. During the winter months between November and April the Park Service maintains the road for vehicle travel only as far as the South Rim Visitor Center. As soon as the snow gets deep enough the remaining 6 miles of the road, all the way to High Point, is groomed for cross country skiing. As a bonus they currently waive the entrance fee during that time."

National Park Service link:

"Cross Country Skiing
In winter, the South Rim Drive is closed to vehicles beyond Gunnison Point. Rangers groom the remainder of the road for crosscountry skiing (skate and classic) and snowshoeing. This winter road becomes the South Rim Ski and Snowshoe trail. It is 6 miles (one way), and allows access to more overlooks. Park at the South Rim Visitor Center. Cross country skis can be rented or purchased in local communities. Check the current conditions page for snow and grooming updates."

Boilerplate: Participants' email addresses may be shared with other participants, and trip images may be shared on Facebook or other media. If you have known medical conditions that may manifest themselves during this activity, please notify the leader before the trip. If you have known exposure to a COVID-positive case within 5 days of this trip, do not come. Do not come if you are sick. If applicable, bring money for ride sharing. No pets. 10 essentials and clothing appropriate for the weather, trail lunch/snacks.


Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Appropriate touring cross country ski gear.

Winter ten essentials. No Avy required. 

Food, clothing layers and preparation for spending up to 4-5 hours in the elements.

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