Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Just For Kids

Ninth-Twelfth Grades

Black Canyon-ology (Field Trip)
Join our rangers as we explore the geology and history of the Black Canyon. This field trip can be offered on either the North or South Rim of the Black Canyon. (3-4 hours)

Boating and Water Safety - This lesson, based on the Colorado Boating Safely course, discusses water and boating safety. (90 minutes)

Note: This lesson does not certify students to legally operate a powerboat in Colorado.

To schedule this program, please call (970) 641-2337 extension 206.

Distance Learning Opportunities

The "Journeys to Wilderness Canyons" program aired and webcast 4 half-hour videos for middle school students from around the globe. The program had subscribers from every state in the United States and several other countries. A total of 6.1 million watched and participated in the program every Wednesday in March, 2001. More than 24 million have participated so far, and the webcast portions are still available online.

The shows featured Park Rangers from the Park and 10 Gunnison Middle School students exploring the ecosystem, geology and history of the area. The program also featured comparisons from around the world like Petra canyon in Jordan, the Three Gorges in China and even a canyon on Mars.

Journeys to Wilderness Canyons is a four-part learning experience designed to meet national science standards. Through inquiring and problem solving activities, students follow a journey through time to discover how these canyons have become such a powerful illustration of natural forces and human impact. The series will address (1) What is a wilderness canyon? (2) How have forces of nature shaped wilderness canyons? (3) What plants and animals live at Black Canyon? and (4) What are the human influences on wilderness canyons?

In the event you missed the initial broadcast, Journeys to Wilderness Canyons is available for download at:

One Planet Education Network

The program is also available in Spanish.

The program was provided by the NPS, the Satellite Education Resource Consortium (SERC), One Planet Education Network (OPEN), KLVX-PBS Las Vegas, the Weather Channel, Western National Parks Association, the Dept of Education's Star Schools Program, University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University and the National Park Foundation.

For Kids


Help take care of your national treasures!

Anyone between the ages of 5 and 12 can become a Junior Park Ranger at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. There are challenging activities in our Junior Ranger Book that you can do when you visit the park. Learn more about the stuff that makes up the scenery.

Stop by the South Rim Visitor Center for more information and to pick up your free Junior Ranger Book.

Advanced Junior Ranger Summer Camp

Giggling with excitement, several third and fourth grade students pull on knee-high rubber boots and step bravely into the cold water of the Gunnison River in search of aquatic insects. These Colorado students are participating in the third annual Advanced Junior Ranger summer camp at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area.

Throughout this seven week program, the Advanced Junior Rangers conduct experiments, create geologic models, hike on the canyon rim, participate in Leave No Trace activities, use GPS units to find scavenger hunt locations and track animals using radio telemetry equipment. One third grader commented that "last week I got to make a bug out of play-dough and help it survive by giving it adaptations like wings and camouflage."

The children become immersed in nature during their weekly activities, which results in a feeling of appreciation for our National Parks. "I wish I could stay in the national park every day. It's so peaceful here and I'm always learning about cool things," continues the third grader. "I'm going to be an Advanced Junior Ranger next summer, too."

Local teachers have been supportive of the summer program, as the rangers incorporate math, language arts, physical education, art, and science into the program activities. Parents frequently comment that if not for this program, their children might be indoors during the summer months, playing video games and forgetting what they've learned during the school year.

As Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has said, "Children need to be inspired to leave their iPods to see a real pod of whales. Children should take a break from their Podcasts to cast a fly for a rainbow trout. Children should interrupt their channel surfing to see the Channel Islands." The Advanced Junior Ranger Program celebrates this philosophy, and brings youth into a wild environment to explore, discover, and make connections between the national parks and their own lives.

A highlight for many of the participants is the end-of-season family campout and awards ceremony. At this event, eager children proudly display their shiny badges, pointing their families in the direction of their exciting nature discoveries. It's an inspiring sight to witness a group of youth pledging to protect our National Park sites and the natural and cultural resources, after having fully immersed themselves in the parks throughout the summer. The Advanced Junior Rangers are truly creating a bright future for the National Park Service.


Advanced Junior Ranger Camp

Fun Summer Program For Kids!

Do you know 3rd and 4th grade students from local communities who are looking for a fun and exciting way to spend their summer? We’ve got just the program! The Annual Advanced Junior Ranger Camp invites local youngsters to explore their national parks through games, hikes, hands-on science, skits, and demonstrations.

The seven week program has been a great success. Students create a model of the Black Canyon using play-do, and cut away layer after layer while learning about geology, rock formation, and erosion. They watch a volcano bubble over, and learn how volcanic rocks are formed. The Advanced Junior Rangers don knee-high rubber boots and learn first hand what aquatic critters can tell us about stream quality.

Participants learn about local plants and animals, animal migration, water, geology, conservation of natural resources, habitats, and how to respect the outdoors by following the ethics of Leave No Trace. The summer culminates with a family camping trip, during which time the participants are presented with their official Advanced Junior Ranger badge.

This annual summer program is open to third and fourth graders, and is available at either Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park or Curecanti National Recreation Area. We ask that the participants commit to attending at least 5 of the 7 weekly activities to successfully earn their badge.

If you have any questions about the program, or would like to register your child, please contact Supervisory Education Specialist Susanna Ausema at (970) 641-2337 ext. 203.

For Teachers


National Park Service Mission: conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area Outreach Education Programs are committed to creating an awareness of and fostering an appreciation for the mission of the National Park Service and the natural, cultural, and historic resources of the two parks.

Programs are provided for over 10,000 preschool, K-12, college/university students, and lifelong learners in eleven communities and six school districts.

All of the K-12 outreach education units are linked to Colorado Content Standards, the National Science Teachers Association standards, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards, using primary National Park Service themes.

The parks' natural resources are appropriately used in experiential learning challenges. These education units are developed using the UCLA-Madeline Hunter method for unit design. Assessment models have been implemented for all educational units.

The parks' outreach education staff are participating members in GREEN (Gunnison Resource and Environmental Education Network) and the UCEA (Uncompahgre Conservation Education Alliance). The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area Outreach Education Program has received the Garrison Gold Award for regional excellence and the National Freeman Tilden Award for the Journeys to Wilderness Canyons distance learning project.

Program Times
Field trips may begin any time after 9:00 a.m., depending on driving distance and school schedules, and should be concluded in time for a safe return to your school. School site programs may begin any time after 9:00 a.m. for Gunnison schools and 10:00 a.m. for all other school districts. All field trip and school site program times will be clearly stated in the confirmation materials you will receive. Telephone or e-mail confirmations will be made prior to your scheduled program.

Field experiences include indoor and outdoor components. The field experience will begin either at the Elk Creek Visitor Center (Curecanti National Recreation Area, located 15 miles west of Gunnison or 50 miles east of Montrose on Highway 50) or at the South Rim Visitor Center (Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park located 6 miles east of Montrose/54 miles west of Gunnison on Highway 50, to Highway 347 then 6 miles north to the Visitor Center). After a brief orientation, students will travel to an outdoor learning site in the park.

Outdoor learning sites include East Elk Creek, the Neversink and Dillon Pinnacles Trails and overlooks on the rim of the Black Canyon. Inclement weather alternatives are arranged when possible. School site programs are held in your classroom and on the school grounds. When possible, in-class programs include indoor and outdoor components.

Pre- and Post-Visit Activities
To prepare students, a pre-visit activity including vocabulary, concepts, and self-directed study material is provided. A post-visit activity, summarizing the unit, will be left with the classroom teacher. We will also provide a self-addressed, stamped evaluation form to be completed so that we may accurately assess our programs and personnel.

Program Dates
Programs are available Tuesday through Friday excluding federal holidays. Program dates can be reserved by telephone, fax or mail. Our schedule is determined on a first-come, first-served basis according to school location, unit selection and ranger availability. For more specific information please call us at (970) 641-2337 ext. 203.