An Absolutely Gorgeous Gorge

The scenery on the road leading up to Black Canyon of the Gunnison was nothing special. There were some small shrubs, a couple of hills, and a pretty sky. I thought to myself, “Doesn’t seem like I’m anywhere near a park, nevertheless one that I heard had views that could take your breath away”.

And then I turned a corner.

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One of the many overlooks.

Oh my goodness-gracious!

Steep, narrow, extensive slices of rock plummet over 2,000 feet to a roaring river. It was entirely overwhelming and my eyes just didn’t know what to focus on.

The geology of the canyon is truly unique. The hardness of the rock coupled with gravity forced the flowing water downwards carving deep fissures over the course of many, many years. And looking over the edge doesn’t begin to give you a true sense of how far downwards that rock goes.

That’s why I decided to hike to the bottom.

The Gunnison route is the “easiest” scramble down. A 1.5 mile hike that has an elevation change of 1,800 feet. To call it a hike, though, is an understatement. There were times I was scooting on my butt, grabbing onto tree roots for dear life. At the bottom, watching the river and peering up at the sheer rock faces surrounding me was an experience that I’ll never forget. I sat. I looked. I listened. Coming back up the canyon didn’t feel nearly as perilous, but I was huffing and puffing like a wildebeeste pretty much the whole time.

If you’re ever in Colorado, make the drive to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

It’s 100% worth it.

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The view from the top (for perspective, notice those pine trees on the ledge; they typically grow to be about 100 feet tall)
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The view from the bottom (the surrounding cliffs in this part of the park rise about 1,800 feet from the Gunnison river)

 

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