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Black Canyon with young children

Denver, Colorado
1 post
Black Canyon with young children

My husband and I will be camping in BCGNP mid July with our 2 young boys (15 months and 4 years). What are your suggestions for traveling here with children of this age? What camp site would you recommend? What activities would be appropriate? If we did not have our children with us we would be hiking, climbing, rafting, boat trip, ect. We would love to do hiking and boating with the kids but it needs to be age appropriate for them. We would also like to go fishing so any suggestions on that would also be helpful? Does the visitor center offer any nature programs or preschool programs or guided tours, jr. ranger programs?

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
Level Contributor
20,221 posts
48 reviews
1. Re: Black Canyon with young children

Check the official link for tons of information. I have not visited there with a kid so can't help much on that, we just never made it there! http://www.nps.gov/blca/index.htm

I would stay at the South Rim CG, you can get reservations if you want. There is a Junior Ranger Program, probably great for the 4 year old but not geared toward the toddler. There also are ranger talks, walks and evening programs.

Colorado Western...
Destination Expert
for Ouray, Outdoors / Adventure Travel, Montrose
Level Contributor
617 posts
15 reviews
2. Re: Black Canyon with young children

To be honest, you aren't going to find any appropriate boating/rafting WITHIN the park with children. And there are only a couple of hikes that might be kid-friendly, due to the steep drop-offs and ruggedness of most trails & "routes" down to the river.

I think you may want to change locations just a little and go to Curecanti National Recreation Area instead, which is just up-stream from the National Park.


Fruita, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Fruita, Grand Junction
Level Contributor
5,526 posts
201 reviews
3. Re: Black Canyon with young children

Yep, while the Black Canyon is cool, beautiful and a delight, it is not kid friendly. From the NPS website - " Many trails pass by steep dropoffs, so be cautious and keep a close watch on children." There are warnings at some trailheads that let people know that if you get into trouble on the trail and it gets dark nobody is going to come to help you until daylight due to the difficulty of the terrain.

WingLady's suggestion is a good one or you might want to go to Ridgway State Park which is not much farther from where you would be and has lots of kid friendly areas.


Destination Expert
for Colorado
Level Contributor
9,300 posts
149 reviews
4. Re: Black Canyon with young children

I love the Black Canyon and have taken many kids there but I agree that it may not be the best place for spending several days...maybe an overnight to attend a ranger program, watch for wildlife, and do some stargazing after the rim drive, stopping at several overlooks. Most of the short trails to overlooks along the south rim drive are fine for kids as long as you are keeping a close watch, but you might ask the rangers which ones you might be better off to avoid. The longer trails (except a nature trail and Warner Point) are only for expert, experienced hikers who are prepared to spend a night or two at the bottom of the canyon if need be.

The campground at the bottom of the East Portal has big trees and lots of shade with fishing nearby in the river, but again you have to keep a close watch on the little ones as the river is very swift and cold. Also, I believe it is first come first served. You might do better to reserve a campsite on the south rim so that you'll be convenient to the evening ranger programs.

The Curecanti boat tour would be fine for the whole family. Check with RIGS in Ridgway and Toad's in Montrose to see if one of their short trips would be okay for your littlest. Toad's Town Run might be, but if not, maybe one parent could take the 4 yr old and the other could take the little one to play at one of the parks (Buckley Park's playground has the most shade, but Baldridge Park is by the river and is bigger. There's a little "creek" that runs through the park where a little one might dabble in the water.) The library or the Aquatic Center would be other options for the little one while the older one goes on a float trip.

Chipeta Lake just south of Montrose is stocked and a good place to take kids plus there are tepees to explore at the Ute Indian Museum nearby, but I would second the recommendation to move on to Ridgway State Park, where they actually have a limited supply of fishing equipment for the kids. And there's a swim beach there, as well as easy hiking/walking trails. Take the 4 year old to see the giant eagle statue at Dennis Weaver Memorial Park, and visit the Ridgway Railroad Museum to see a Galloping Goose.

5. Re: Black Canyon with young children

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