We chose the North Rim because it has the longest trail along the rim – the North Vista Trail. This trail follows the mesa as you get to peer down into the canyon, and also leads to Green Mountain (8,563 ft).
The best time of year to visit here is Spring and Fall, when the temperatures are cooler and the trails are dry.
From Grand Junction, CO head south on HWY 50. In Delta, UT turn East following HWY 92. In Hotchkiss, CO keep following HWY 92 towards Crawford, CO. Once in Crawford, turn right on Dogwood Ave, then immediate left on Fruitland Mesa Rd. Follow this for 3.2 miles. At the “Y” in the road, continue left on to 7745 Road for 1.2 miles, then turn right on Black Canyon Rd. Turn right again onto Black Canyon Road. By this point you will see the brown National Park signs, which you can follow. In 2 miles turn left onto Black Canyon Rd, then stay on here for another 5 miles until you reach the ranger station, where the North Vista Trail begins. Total driving time from Grand Junction to the North Rim is roughly 1.5-2 hours. The last best place for gas, food, and water is Hotchkiss, CO.
Here is a driving map.
Distance: 7 miles RT
Elevation gain: 954 ft
Time: 3-4 hours
Dog friendly? No, dogs are not allowed on this trail
Kid friendly? Yes
No permit is required to hike this trail but there are entrance fees:
$20 per car (which covers all people in a single, private, noncommercial car and is valid for 7 days)
$15 for motorcyclists
$10 for bicyclists
$80 for an annual National Park Pass (you can’t purchase them at this location but if you already have a pass then it’s free)
Entering Black Canyon!
North Rim Ranger Station
The North Vista Trail starts behind the port-a-potty to the left of the ranger station.
The trail is very easy to follow. It’s one of the most popular trails in the park.
Pass the official sign!
We got our first glimpse of the canyon only 5 minutes into the hike.
The first overlook is a worthy stop and only takes a few minutes. There’s no official name for it.
“Overlook” – I think they could have come up with a better name like The Deep Canyon Overlook or Question Mark Point haha (in reference to Exclamation Point).
Keep hiking past the first overlook, and you’ll see the trail split for Exclamation Point. It takes about 10-15 minutes and is the highlight of the hike, and my favorite as well.
Exclamation Point really does live up to it’s name – WOW!
This is definitely one of the best views in the park! Be careful with all the ledges and rocks!
Eeek! Don’t look down!
Back on the mail trail, headed for Green Mountain.
You can actually see the summit from Exclamation Point. The summit doesn’t really stand out, but is only another 2 miles from the point and worth the time. If you are super short on time I would only suggest doing the point, then turn around.
Hiking up a few steps. Thankfully there was some shade – it was so hot!
Working our way up really long switchbacks.
Views from the summit.
Yay, we made it to Green Mountain! We always have to bag a peak where we go.
It was so hot we took a break in the shade. I stuffed my face while Christa looked at the park brochure and map.
On the way back we stopped by Exclamation Point one more time!
Chasm Nature Trail
Miles: 1/2 mile RT
Elevation gain: flat
Time: 15 minutes
This is a very short “hike” – dogs are allowed on this trail but must be leashed. Bring water as there is little shade on this walk. This would be a great walk for little kids as there are railings and the walk is very short.
The main overlook into the canyon.
WOW! That is Exclamation Point on the other side, where we just were.
Dayum, Black Canyon, you surprised us with your beauty! We were really impressed by this national park!
All sites are $16/night, and there are only 13 campsites. They are big enough for most RVs. Read more about camping on the North Rim here. Thanks random person for letting me take a photo of your tent!
My track via Gaia GPS – the best tracking app! Get your app here for a discount.
Hiking the Crag Crest Trail, Grand Mesa, Colorado
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