Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Grand Canyon

Not THE Grand Canyon. Been there, done that. But we visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park near Montrose, CO.


The Black Canyon isn’t nearly as wide as Grand, but at 2300 feet, it’s just about as deep. The composition of the rock is also quite dark, thus the name Black Canyon, although Grey Canyon might be more accurate.  This is one of those lesser-known National Parks, but as always, it is a special place. If the Empire State Building was stuck at the base of the canyon it would reach just past halfway to the rim.


Because of its narrowness, and darkness, it is a bit difficult to get good photographs of the canyon. The best places for Kodak Moments are nicely identified with scenic overlooks.


And unlike the Grand, you can drive to the bottom of the Black. There is a “road”, steep, and with many switchbacks, that leads to a parking lot with small pond, a campground and picnic area. The Gunnison is dammed just above this point  as part of a dam system (John Muir might have called it a damn damn system) providing water and hydroelectric power to the area.DSC_0419

The rock walls in Black Canyon are quite steep and the rock itself is quite crumbly. The Park Service discouraging rock climbing by all but the most experienced (or crazy) climbers. So Penny and I decided not to try climbing, as if we needed a reason. From Montrose we drove to Durango over a spectacular mountain road with two 11,000 foot passes. I don’t have any pictures yet because my white knuckles stayed attached to the steering wheel and at the few places we could have parked the truck and trailer it was raining too hard to get out of the truck.

Interestingly, when we arrived at the campground in Durango, the guy next to us, a Denver resident said: “You drove over those mountains with THAT trailer. You must be a good driver.” I just nodded, but thought it was really just a matter of dumb luck. Once the rain stops we’ll head back over those passes, sans trailer, to get some pictures of the absolutely awesome (in the archaic sense) views from the road.


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