Monday, June 27, 2016

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

On our circle of Colorado, we had time for one more National Park--the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.  We drove north on highway 550 leaving the desert and climbing up and up into mountains.  We passed through the gorgeous mountain surrounded towns of Silverton and Ouray (stopping to sample varieties of dried jerky--beef, venison, elk, alligator, buffalo), and stopping often to take pictures along what is called the "million dollar highway."

Hokey roadside trading post

People who didn't pull off, drove right over this fall, having no idea it was there
 We got to the Black Canyon late in the day and did not have time for a real hike, though we did ramble around from the car to the look-off points, some of which were hike-ish in that you had to walk a ways to get to the look-offs.
The size of the canyon is mind boggling.  It is also pretty camera boggling!  It was impossible to photograph really and capture the immensity of the rock and the drop to the river at the canyon floor. Also, the look-offs had rails so you could sort of lean over and get a view, but the majority of the canyon rim is just open.  In fact, after we left, we heard that someone fell in and lost his life the very day that we visited.  !

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Along the unprotected edge

Who would guess at the immensity of the canyon between this hill and the next?

This is such a surprising park.  The terrain seems to be these rolling hills, and if it weren't for the brown National Park signs, you would never suspect there might be something more to the landscape. I imagine people used to graze herds on these hills and then come to a drop off point where they realized--holy cow!
I once camped in a place like that (Dead Horse Point in Utah).  We pitched our tent after dusk, and woke up to wander a bit from the campsite to discover a huge canyon below.  Talk about a sharp gasp!  I understood exactly how the horses ran over the edge and gave that canyon its name.

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