We visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park today, this is our third national park in the last month. We got in free again too, this time it saved us $15 with our golden age pass. :-)
We started our tour at the visitor center and watched a film about the park, it was about 20 minutes long and full of great information. The most interesting part of the film told about the pastor that moved there years ago from out of state because he loved the canyon so much. He even preached from a huge rock in the canyon they later named “Pulpit Rock” after him. He wrote letters constantly trying to get them to save the park and make it a national park. It sure makes you appreciate people like that when you see this incredible park.
The park is best described as Deep, Steep and Narrow. Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky. I was very happy to read there are no poisonous snakes at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Nighttime temperatures are too cold for many species of snakes and amphibians. The place looks like it would be full of snakes, I was afraid to walk the paths before reading that one. :-)
Early American Indians (and, later, Utes and Anglos) avoided the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, believing that no human could survive a trip through its depths. Now, the deepest and most spectacular 14 miles of this 48-mile canyon make up one of America's newest national parks.
The Black Canyon, which had been a national monument since 1933, became a national park on October 21, 1999. In a statement issued after the bill-signing ceremony, President Bill Clinton called it a "true natural treasure," adding, "Its nearly vertical walls, rising a half-mile high, harbor one of the most spectacular stretches of wild river in America."
The Black Canyon ranges in depth from 1,730 to 2,700 feet. Its width at its narrowest point (cleverly called "The Narrows" is only 40 feet at the river. At 30,300 acres, the Black Canyon is among the smallest of America's national parks.
Most visitors view the canyon from the South Rim Road, site of the visitor center, or the less used North Rim Road. Short paths branching off both roads lead to splendid view points with signs explaining the canyon's unique geology. We viewed the South Rim Road today, we plan a trip back for the North Rim later.
The park has hiking trails along both rims and backcountry hiking routes down into the canyon, and offers excellent trout fishing for anglers willing to make the trek to the canyon floor. It also provides an abundance of thrills for the experienced rock climbers who challenge its sheer canyon walls. We walked down several trails for special views around the rim until it got way too hot for more. We will be going back again on a cooler day. Another great day in Colorado. I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Check back later for more from Colorado.