Black Canyon of The Gunnison Nat’l Park: Boondocking with Parky

During our recent trip to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado, we made this video for Winnebagolife’s blog:


While the video shows highlights of Black Canyon of the Gunnison park throughout, it’s really more about how the van functions during a 3-day boondocking trip. We checked in on the tank levels and battery status each day… so, if you’re curious how Parky performed OR about seeing the park, give it a look.


Our Experiences At Black Canyon of the Gunnison:

For my fellow parks trivia lovers: The “Black” in the park’s name comes from its near-perpetual state of darkness. Parts of the canyon floor only receive 33 minutes per day of direct sunlight at most.



This was our first time actually IN the park, but it’s not our first time seeing this magnificent canyon. We’ve bicycled Highway 92 before, which is a less-traveled road that meanders along the ridge of the canyon on its east side. With its incredible scenery of the canyon below and the fun twisty turny nature of the road itself, Highway 92 was one of the most breathtaking bike rides we’ve ever done.


There were some parts of the road with some pretty terrifying drop-offs; but as always, take that with a grain of salt and remember who’s writing this (me, a self-declared heights fearing chicken). The drop-offs didn’t phase James a bit.

That trip, we camped at the lovely Blue Mesa Reservoir, which was the perfect base camp for biking highway 92. Highly recommend this ride and camping destination!


Isn’t Lucy a beauty?!? Oh and the canyon back there isn’t too shabby either.


THIS trip, however, there was no biking. In fact, biking isn’t allowed on any of the trails within Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. That’s okay though, it made things simpler.


YAYYY for simple!!!


We started our time at the park in the more popular south rim section. We did two short and intense hikes: Warner Point and Oak Flat.

We were only on each trail just short of an hour, but as challenging as they were it made them extra fun with lots of cardio-testing steep climbs and switchbacks that reward you with the most stunning views. The trails were a great way to see the dramatic depth of the sheer cliff walls, in places the walls dive more than 2,000 vertical feet almost straight down to the river below.


I had tried to reserve a campsite over a month in advance for two nights at the south rim campground, and could only get a site for the first night. We hoped to get a spot at the first-come first-served north rim campground on the second night, but no luck.

We were bummed, especially since it’s a two hour drive from south rim to north, but I’m still so glad we made the trek. Gang, the north rim is AMAZING!!! The scenic drive along the north rim is a real gem. The roads are gravel, there’s hardly anyone else around, and you pretty much can pull off right at the cliff’s edge!!!


So even though we didn’t get to camp on the north rim, we were enchanted by that whole area and grateful for the experience.

We left the north rim and drove 30 minutes to Crawford State Park with our fingers crossed… luckily we got the last site left. One look at our spot and suddenly we weren’t feeling so bummed about no Black Canyon sites.


Plus we scored showers!!! (The things that make RVers happy, lol…)

After our night at Crawford, we headed to Paonia to bust out the mountain bikes on their lovely trail system. While I mostly took my bike for a walk (as always), I didn’t mind one bit:


So! Another incredible national park experience and adventures beyond: CHECK!!! I will say this; when visiting these parks I’m so thankful we’re rolling in a compact coach! Oftentimes there’s very little parking and since we can fit into any regular parking spot, we’ve been parking problem-free.

Happy RVing, all! Go give your parks some love!

Stef spent 15 years as an educator in both the public K-12 setting and at the University level in Special Physical Education before making the leap to her true passion… the fitness world. She’s currently a personal trainer and wellness coach with a specialty in working with people with medical conditions and injuries. Stef has been a running enthusiast her entire adult life, and shares James’ love of cycling. She feels lucky they have a shared hobby in bicycling that enhances their RV lifestyle.

    12 thoughts on “Black Canyon of The Gunnison Nat’l Park: Boondocking with Parky

    1. Ted

      Maybe you could write something on “Forest Bathing, the Japanese concept of Shinrin-yoku”. (It’s no where near being “naughty” the way it sounds)

    2. Joseph Goodgame

      I have a question on Parky’s tires. I really like the tire and wheel combo and am thinking of upgrading my current travato nexens. How do the tire and wheel combo compare. Great video by the way.

      1. James

        I can’t say how they compare to Nexens because we haven’t been using the Nexens for a couple of years now. On our own rig, we have the Michelins, and are very happy with that choice.
        Having said that, the K02s are much quieter on the road than you would expect, given their aggressive tread design. I was pleasantly surprised by that.
        This wheel and tire combo can rub on the mud flap brackets. Winnebago deals with that on their rigs, but if you were to install these yourself, you would need to come up with something.

      1. James

        Hi Paul –
        Nope – same cameras we’ve been using for a while now (we use two main ones).
        Maybe I just finally got it right? Lol!
        Glad you liked the vid. Cheers!

    3. Steve

      James – do you plan to share with us your manufacturing of the added Lagun Table you added to Parky? Hoping so and thanks for sharing the latest video!

      1. James

        Hadn’t really planned to share anything about the table because I more or less just bought a rectangular piece of wood for the top and followed the instructions that came with the table for mounting. It wasn’t terribly difficult.
        I did it during my “24 hour non-stop mod-fest”, so there wasn’t any time to take pictures or make a video.
        You can do it, trust me. Go for it!

    4. Nathan P Anton

      We were at the South Rim in 2016 and the North Rim last year. The park is amazing. I hope you took the drive to the bottom on the south rim, it is a neat drive. Not much to see down there, except the view looking up.
      We got the very last site (at 9pm no less) on the North Rim. There was an ambulance tearing out of the campground when we came in and a car fast on it’s tail. So we got lucky someone else didn’t… I love to tell everyone about the hidden gem that is the black canyon, but I also want to keep the secret all to myself.

    5. Danielle

      Thanks for that helpful review!! While watching, the issue of drinking water came to mind. Are you using your Berkey in Parky and if so, where do house the Berkey in the K model.


      1. James

        We don’t have a Berkey water filter. And in Parky, since he’s just a loaner, we haven’t looked at custom storage areas or gone crazy with mods. This is temporary for us.

        In Lance, we got an improved filter cartridge for the under sink filter and we just drink the water from the tap. In Parky, we have been bringing a large jug, that we fill with “good” water whenever we find it. Sometimes we buy it, sometimes the campgrounds have awesome water.


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