Friday, May 28, 2010

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park -- Awesome!

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!

Path to an overlook and me at another overlook just enjoying this wonderful place.

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 long for now!


Judy and Emma said...

Those views sure do beat Denny's hands down. :)

Rick and Paulette said...

Great pictures of a beautiful looking park. Colorado is one state that we have to see a lot more of - especially after looking at the photos of you last few posts. Thanks for the tour!

Happytrails said...

Colorado never ceases to amaze me. I just love that state. The Black Canyon is so interesting and just beautiful. I can't imagine a better place to sit and enjoy your lunch.

Thanks for sharing this jewel with us and you all enjoy your journey.

Mike & Gerri (happytrails)

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

One of our favorite places. Thanks for the pictures.


Black Canyon looks like my kind of place. All natural beauty & very little man made touristy stuff.

Jerry and Suzy said...

Now that's a place we have to visit! All we have to do is get a spot secured so Suzy can continue her pain control program. Her doctor told her yesterday how to go about that.

Black Canyon seems to be one of those places where no photograph, regardless of how artfully it is taken, can ever hope to show the wonder of it all. Your pix were great, and they sure whetted out appetitites!

Carol K said...

You know I like to visit national parks, and Black Canyon needs to be added to my list. I enjoyed your pictures and review. Good job!

Wild Blue Yonder said...

Another one for my list! Thanks for sharing!!
Pictures look awesome and that place certainly looks peaceful!

John and Sandy said...

Very nice photos. We were there in 2008 and realize enjoyed it. It is one of the least crowded NP we visited. Thanks for the memories:) Sandy

Karen and Al said...

That is a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing those pictures.

KarenInTheWoods and Steveio said...

That sure is one interesting place. I never heard of it before. For SURE it's marked on our travel list. Thanks for the wonderful photos.

Karen and Steve
(Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

JODI said...

As a family we attempted to hike to the bottom of the canyon. Everyone was forced to turn back when 58% of the way down I realized this was more than I bargained for. However, the view of the Gunnison River from that far down was spectacular! Amazing national park that doesn't get the visitorship it deserves.