2,000,000,000 years in the making, this magnificent canyon is neither as deep nor as long as The Grand Canyon but, as geologist Wallace Hansen said, “No other canyon in North America combines the depth, narrowness, sheerness, and somber countenance as the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.”
The depths of the walls prevent sunlight from penetrating the deep dark canyon floor; hence the name black canyon. In the above photo, I had to enhance the brightness for the sake of visibility. Every view from the top is daunting - it’s easy to understand why humans (at least since recorded history) have never set up residence in the gorge itself, only along its rims.
It’s not possible to capture the scale of this gorge, but here’s an idea.
The Gunnison River has been carving the canyon for eons, at the rate of one-inch per century. Each year the erosion occurs at the width of a human hair, a testament to nature’s patient persistence.
From any point high above, the thundering river is heard.
The route along South Rim Drive provides plenty of photo opportunities. At 8,500 feet elevation, the afternoon high barely reaches 70 degrees.
The mountain backdrops add to the majesty.
Pinyon Pines are everywhere – playing a vital role in the ecosystem here. Their scent fills the air.
Below is Painted Wall, the highest cliff in Colorado. Molten rock was squeezed into the fractured rock, resulting in a 3-dimensional painting.
I stumble onto a Ranger Talk in progress. Couldn’t have planned it better!
The ranger shows us a replica of a hummingbird skull alongside a hummingbird egg.
We learn about the resident Golden Eagles and Peregrine Falcons. Bonus: I attend another Ranger Talk that same evening in the Campground Amphitheater. Two talks in one day is a record for me!
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a designated as an International Dark Sky Park - one of only 19 in the world - and the skies last night were, well, heavenly. The Big Dipper was so low on the horizon and seemed as close as the end of your arm. Shooting stars were abundant and I saw one, again so close, it seemed to streak right over my head. What a show!
|Web Photo, obviously ;-)|
Figuring, but not knowing for certain, there would be no wi-fi signal here at the South Rim Campground, I decide to stay for just one night. I don’t like to be out of the classroom for more than 24 hours. I have to say, I didn’t miss having internet for one night - except for the inability to have cocktails with John and Doris!
Put this National Park on your list.