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  • Writer's pictureDan Wagner

Visit Painted Wall in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

One of the most dramatic views in all of Colorado, the Painted Wall in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park stands as a testament to the immense geological forces that have shaped the landscape over the last nearly 2 billion years. Rising 2,247 feet from the Gunnison River, it holds the distinction of being the tallest cliff in the state and one of the most awe-inspiring in North America. Accented by vibrant bands that inspired its name, the geological marvel ranks among Colorado's most photographed locations, and rightfully so. The best part? Accessing the view is incredibly easy.


Painted Wall Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Trailhead elevation 7,782'

Water None

Don't miss Sunrise and/or sunset



View Painted Wall in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

To catch a glimpse of Painted Wall, visitors to the park can find their way by taking South Rim Road to the overlook trailhead, just a short drive from the South Rim Entrance Station. En route, they'll pass by several other South Rim overlooks including Tomichi Point, Gunnison Point, Pulpit Rock, Cross Fissures, and more. While each offers stunning panoramic views of the canyon and are definitely worth stops at, none quite rival the grandeur of Painted Wall.


Upon reaching the roadside parking area, visitors will spot a sign on the north side of the road indicating "Painted Wall 200 yards." From this point, guests can enjoy a short leisurely walk along a well-defined path flanked by juniper and sagebrush, guiding them to the overlook. Upon reaching the overlook, visitors will find a fence positioned along the cliff's edge, serving as a safeguard to prevent falls from the more than 2,000-foot vertical drop. Those who wish to take in a less constrained view can find a spot to the left or right of the fence, but should do so with caution.


Painted Wall Black Canyon of the Gunnison

The sight of Painted Wall is striking at any time, yet it is particularly beautiful during sunrise and sunset. In the morning, as the sun ascends, its gentle rays gradually illuminate the canyon walls, transforming the once shadowed facade with a warm glow. During the evening, as the sun sets below the horizon, Painted Wall fades into darkness, presenting a slightly different perspective of the canyon.


Painted Wall Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Painted Wall showcases miles of streaking igneous rock bands. These bands formed around 1.7 billion years ago when molten rock began seeping through fissures in the surrounding rock. As the molten rock solidified, minerals developed, shaping the light-colored bands that adorn the wall today.


Chasm View Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Whether it's sunrise, midday, or sunset, the view of Painted Wall never fails to astound. Throughout my four visits to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, I've consistently made a point to spend time at the overlook, focusing most of my time to sunrise and sunset.

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