Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Other Canyon....

You're going where?????

My reply, "The Black Canyon of the Gunnison"....

Huh?

It's a National Park in Colorado, just outside of Montrose.

Trust me when I tell you to go, and maybe this will help.

the view from the first lookout.
It is absolutely STUNNING!!!  and the views just kept getting better....

Before I get into details and pictures about the park, I guess I should tell you about the drive there.

We pulled out of Salt Lake at around 7am and headed south on I-15, then turned onto Highway 6 and continued toward I-70.  Once on 70, we headed east and once I passed the turnoff for Moab, I was in an area I have never been....  I've been to Colorado, just not the section around Grand Junction, which is much larger than I thought, by the way.  In Grand Junction, I picked up Highway 50 (it's the year of driving 50) and headed to Montrose.  5 hours, or so, after leaving SLC, we were in Montrose.  A very pleasant and beautiful drive, plus by leaving early, we had plenty of time to explore the park.

Welcome....

We arrived just after lunch time, so first on the agenda was to find a picnic area and have some lunch. The park is pretty remote and the closest place to eat is probably 20 miles away, so we planned ahead and brought a cooler, and pretty soon had company...
He was quite shy...
Now, it's time to formally introduce you to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison....
It is steeper than the Grand Canyon

There are no trails like at the Grand Canyon to go down

The steep walls of the Black Canyon range from 2700 feet deep to 1700 in others.  There is no other canyon combines the depth, narrowness and sheerness of the Black Canyon.  Only advanced technical rock climbers attempt the walls....  The majority of the trails in the park require a permit and a stern lecture from the Ranger before you hike them.  While we were in the visitor's center, a man was attempting to get a permit for a trail and the conversation went a bit like this...
     Ranger:  "What kind of hiking have you done?"
     Hiker:  "I hiked the Grand Canyon 2 years ago?"
     Ranger:  "Ok, you might have the physical ability to hike the canyon, but do you know have to read a topographical map?  Find obscure trail markers? "
     Hiker:  "I think so...."
    Ranger:  "I think so doesn't cut it around here.  I think you would be better off not going."
   Hiker:  "Wow...this place is intense."

The extreme nature of the park was once again brought into focus when we were having lunch at the North Rim's campground and met a guy (well, his dog first) who was there for training as he was a member of the area's Search and Rescue squad.  He said that they do not do many rescues out of the canyon, due to the fact that the climbers and hikers that attempt the canyon are very, very experienced and therefore, rescues have a tendency to be true accidents, not someone who got in over their heads.

After all of that, why would I tell you to go?  This is why,  the park system, in its infinite wisdom, has 2 overlook roads with about 20 short hikes to view the canyon in a safe and easy way.

The amazing geological lines of the rock looking across to the North Rim

not my shadow, it's the canyon!  cool, huh?
It is a place of silence and birds soaring on the thermals of the Canyon.....
My meditation location...
and the whimsy of Nature...
a sitting camel

nature's own chair
We spent a day and a half there and enjoyed every moment of it.  During the Summer, a rafting adventure down the Gunnison River  would of been a fun adventure, but the season had passed.

Thank you Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park for your silence and beauty.
Melissa

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