Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is in southeastern Colorado near the town of Montrose. The park is relatively small comprising of the canyon and surrounding area. We spent one day exploring the park after a nights stay at a BLM campsite just outside the park border. The canyon stands 2,722 feet at its deepest point and is made up of sheer, narrow, vertical walls of appearing dark colored rock. Parts of the canyon only get 33 minutes of sunlight a day and shadows make the canyon walls appear dark and almost black. Some of the dramatic overlooks even made Ashby woozy and weak in the knees.

Oak Flat Trail

Upon entry to the park we proceeded to the visitors center which was closed due to covid precautions but fortunately, a park rangers stood outside to answer any questions. We obtained a map and decided to take a hike down the Oak Flat Loop which took us below the rim of the canyon a couple hundred feet and provides some great views along the way.

While hiking the trail, Ashby of course had to stop to observe and photograph all of the unique flowers she saw.

South Rim Drive

After completing our short hike we drove down the south rim scenic drive. This road took us along the canyon and has several scenic viewpoints where we stopped to take in different parts of the canyon. We stopped at all viewpoints along the drive, our favorite of which was “Painted Wall”, a massive rock wall with multi-colored bands that happens to be the tallest cliff in Colorado.

Takeaways

This is a unique natural wonder that is almost unworldly. Had we planned more time here we would have taken a day trip to the canyon floor for a true “under the rim” experience. We hope to return someday and experience the canyon from the banks of the Gunnison river.

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