An unexpected delight for me, I have to admit, I thought the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park deserved a blog post all to itself. It surprised me with its beauty and ruggedness, and I’m very glad we’d made time to spend a day exploring the what looked on paper like a small Park but actually turned out to offer plenty to the day-visitor.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Knowing that the facilities at this particular National Park did not include a nice Lodge restaurant or café, we grabbed a sub from a locally run shop before we rode the 10 miles (ish) to the entrance to the South Rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Split into two by the canyon, the South Rim is the one with the paved road and easily accessible viewpoints, whereas the North Rim has the dirt roads and long hiking trails. There’s a significant drive between the two, about two or three hours, and so it’s wise to select your Rim of choice before heading into the Park.
LincsGeek standing high in Colorado, in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
After filling up our water bottles and watching the National Park Service video at the Visitor Centre (naturally), we first made our way down the East Portal Road down into the Canyon to the riverside and the Dam. The road, closed for a good portion of the year, was steep and winding, but well worth the trip down as it was the perfect place for a picnic with the water rushing by.
The Gunnison River.
Back up the road to the top of the Canyon, we made the most of the various turnouts and parking lots along the South Rim Road. The views were really rather impressive; the cliffs are vertical and the river is a very long way down inside the canyon – I can completely understand why it was considered impassable for a very long time.
Looking down into the Canyon.
From one of the viewpoints on the South Rim we could make out people on the North Rim of the canyon looking our way, so we decided to go and see if we could get to that particular spot. After starting to ride the long way round back to Montrose, we soon realised we didn’t really have time for the 100-mile ride ahead of us, and so we had to give up on that plan and backtrack to Montrose. It was a shame but there are only so many hours in the day!
Looking over to the North Rim of the Canyon.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park was a really beautiful and fascinating place to visit. It’s one of those Parks we may have missed out if we didn’t get the America the Beautiful Pass, but that would have been a real shame as it’s well worth the entrance fee. Next time we’ll head to the North Rim to explore over there.
The US Geological Survey don’t use big obvious trig points to mark summits, but rather these tiny little brass badges cemented into the ground. Still kinda cool to bag a few while on our road trip.