In which we visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison is an obscure National Park, tucked into the corner of Colorado and overshadowed by it’s famous Utah and other Coloradan brethren (I’m looking at you, Mesa Verde). After visiting today, I can say that it does not get enough recognition as a cool place to visit. The hiking here is limited to the the north and south rims, unless you’re an amazing athlete and can risk the scary descent down the sheer cliff faces. We opted to not risk death, but would love to train to be able to one day hike the inner canyon.

6th National Park!

6th National Park!

First view - gorgeous! The Gunnison River that carves the canyon averaged a drop of 34 ft per mile. By comparisons, the Grand Canyon's Colorado drops 7.5 per mile.

First view – gorgeous! The Gunnison River that carves the canyon averaged a drop of 34ft per mile. By comparison, the Grand Canyon’s Colorado drops 7.5ft per mile.

thumb_DSC_0881_1024

thumb_DSC_0882_1024

We kept a healthy distance between us and the rim.

thumb_DSC_0885_1024

thumb_DSC_0900_1024

thumb_DSC_0888_1024

A swift current and large quantity of sediment has helped the Gunnison River carve this impressive scar in the earth.

thumb_DSC_0912_1024

thumb_DSC_0893_1024

thumb_DSC_0905_1024

It is called Black Canyon because some parts are so deep they only receive 33 minutes of sunlight each day.

As close as I dared.

As close as I dared.

thumb_DSC_0907_1024

The painted wall made of so many layers of sedimentary rock.

Juniper tree shaped by the wind.

Juniper tree shaped by the wind.

thumb_DSC_0923_1024

Mesas surrounding the canyon.

Sunset point

Sunset point

My biggest fear

My biggest fear

We misjudged this hike and did it in sandals - should have used our hiking boots that were in the car, but survived anyway.

We misjudged this hike and did it in sandals – should have used our hiking boots that were in the car, but survived anyway.

View from Warner Point

View from Warner Point

We only had time for the scenic drive of the South Rim at this park, but the hiking here requires something outside our skill level. One day we’ll be fit enough to try a descent into the inner canyon where the easiest route requires climbing down 80 ft of chain.

The rest of the day was spent traversing Colorado and the Rockies:

Glaciated peaks.

Glaciated peaks.

We ran into our first traffic jam of the trip an hour outside Colorado – probably people returning to the city after their weekend vacations in the mountains. It was surreal to be surrounded by so many creeping cars after having seen so few for the past week, but we made it through and were rewarded by a delightful and delicious dinner at Jax Fish House in Boulder (we enjoyed the oysters, lobster roll, crab cake and s’mores dessert). I have always wanted to see Boulder since my dad brought me a hat from there in 4th grade and the town lived up to expectations. One day we’ll have more time to spend in this little mountain, college town. The IronMan Triathlon was in full swing in the area and all the hotels were booked, so we ended the night here in Longmont, a few minutes away. On to our final few destinations tomorrow!

369 miles today (with an hour backed up in traffic) - respectable.

369 miles today (with an hour backed up in traffic) – respectable.

Advertisements

One thought on “In which we visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison

  1. Beautiful, beautiful!! Thanks for the journey. Safe travels on to MN!! You all are almost to your new state!! Love to both!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s