Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Monday, October 2, 2023

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

We left Wisconsin on September 21st and headed to Lincoln to spend a few days with our family there. It has been two months since we saw Eden, and she sure has grown during that time. It was so wonderful to hold her again. We took some walks and just enjoyed family time.

She is "talking" to her mom. She's so alert!

After some much needed snuggling with Eden, we departed and headed to Montrose, Colorado. National Parks are places we really enjoy visiting. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is our 43rd park visited. There are a total of 63 National Parks in the United States, so we have visited quite a few of them. Some of them are in very remote areas that we will probably never go to. There are about 10 more that we plan to visit at some point.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison does not get nearly as many visitors as some of the more well known parks. It was established in 1999, and has been on my radar for some time. As we drove across Interstate 70 through the Rocky Mountains, the scenery was just breathtaking. The aspen trees were in full autumn color. The area around Vail was beautiful.

The canyon was formed by the Gunnison River eroding the rock. It is a 53-mile-long canyon that’s one of the narrowest and deepest in the western United States. So deep, in fact, that sunlight rarely reaches the bottom—a feature that helped give it the name.

View behind the visitor center

At it's deepest part, the canyon is over 2,700 feet deep. This sign gives you a perspective on just how deep that is. The Empire State Building would only reach about half way. The tallest building in the world in Dubai is about the same height.

There is a 7 mile road with 12 overlooks along the south rim of the canyon with a visitor center at the start. You can also drive along the north rim, but much of that is a gravel road. We stayed on the south road. It was a beautiful, sunny fall day for our viewing pleasure. Some of the overlooks didn't have a parking spot for us, but we think we saw plenty at the overlooks we were able to visit.

We attended a ranger talk on the geology of the park. There are three main types of rocks that form the walls. I don't remember their names, but the lighter one is what creates the veins and makes for the pretty designs at the Painted Wall Overlook.

At one of the overlooks, we saw what looked like a castle. Let your imagination run wild!

Do you see it? (Top center)

Closer view

The area below is popular with rock climbers. We didn't see any climbers that day. There is no way I'd try that!

Chasm Overlook View

The Gunnison River runs throughout the canyon. From above it looks quite tame. The river drops 2,100 feet through 14 miles of the canyon. The sand and gravel grating against the riverbed act as a liquid buzz saw. During the spring runoff, the river roars with 2.75 million horsepower. A jet engine has 110,000 horsepower. That powerful water can move rocks weighing over 5,000 pounds through the river. Wow!!

Along with the river in the above picture, notice how the wall on the left is much steeper and more jagged than the wall on the right. This is due to more sun exposure on the left which evaporates the snow quickly. The right side has the snow stay on longer which causes more erosion making it smoother.

These scrub oak bushes were showing their vivid fall colors throughout the park.

We had dinner at the Horsefly Brewing Company in Montrose. The food was good. Kevin tried two of their beers, and said it was some of the best beer he'd ever had. If you're wondering how it got it's name. it's named after Horsefly Peak. 

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

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