Our current location: Gunnison, Colorado
Thursday we drove west for about 50 miles to get to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. This is a newer member of our National Park system, being established in 1999. It had been declared a National Monument back in 1933. You enter the park via Hwy. 347 which is right off of Hwy. 50. We got into the park FREE because Bruce has the America the Beautiful Senior Pass.
This entry point takes you to the South Rim. (You can access the North Rim from Hwy. 92) We started at the park's Visitor Center. They have a great overlook that will give you a nice view of what you have in store for you as you tour the park. Access to the park is mainly from the paved 7 mile road that travels the distance from the entry gate to High Point where the road ends. If you are a hiker you can get a permit at the Visitor Center.
The Gunnison River runs through the canyon. It is a very fast moving river and Park Rangers suggest only the most experienced kayakers ride these rapids. Rafters are discouraged from attempting to travel on this river at all. This river has been flowing through the Black Canyon for millions of years. It has the force to move a 700 lb. boulder down stream. The river drops in elevation an average of 96 feet per mile.
There are 11 view points, not counting the Visitor Center, along this paved road. Some of them are handicapped accessible, but not all. The park map gives you that information. The view point/overlook paths range in length from 100 yards to over 1,400 yards at High Point. The elevation in the park is over 8,000 feet and walking out on all of these paths was "breathtaking". We are used to living at sea level!
The Black Canyon gets it's name because it is so deep and narrow that very little sunlight will reach the canyon floor. The granite walls are dark-colored and the early explorers back in 1873 found it to be a bit foreboding. The canyon walls in some places have sheer drops from the rim to the bottom. We could see a few cars over on the North Rim. There is no bridge from one side to the other. If you want to see both rims, you need to drive all the way over to it.
This is the Painted Wall section of the Black Canyon. We are looking over at the North Rim.
We drove to the end of the road and ate our picnic lunch there. We pulled out our chairs and set them up so we could enjoy the scenery while we ate. Sure beats sitting at Denney's or something!
We also saw a great looking tree called a Utah Juniper. There were some wildflowers in bloom as well.
This park covers 30,000 acres of land. The entire canyon extends for 48 miles. The National Park area is 14 miles. It is just one more beautiful and amazing thing to see here in Colorado.
Until next time....so long for now!