Black Canyon of the Gunnison

8/18 -- 8/20/2023

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, located in western Colorado, contains 12 miles of the 48-mile-long Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, the deepest and most dramatic section of the canyon.  Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rocks, 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.  The canyon's name owes itself to the fact that parts of the gorge only receive 33 minutes of sunlight a day.  The Black Canyon of the Gunnison was established as a national monument on March 2, 1933, and was redesignated a national park on October 21, 1999.

Getting there ...

We had a very early flight at 5:20AM (so we needed to get up at 3:00AM) to Grand Junction, CO.  When we got to Denver at 9AM for our transfer, we were notified our flight from Denver to Grand Junction was delayed (planned departure at 9:45AM).  The airplane did not arrive last night according to the flight plan.  When the plane arrived after 10:30AM, our flight was further delayed due to crew scheduling (there were no flight attendants available...).   Finally we could board our plane at about noon with ~2.5 hours of delay.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has two entrances to the park: the south rim entrance is located 15 miles (24 km) east of Montrose, while the north rim entrance is 11 miles (18 km) south of Crawford and is closed in the winter.  We will stay one night each at the south rim and north rim to have sufficient time to see both sides.  After landed in Grand Junction, we first headed to the north rim, the less visited and quieter side of the Black Canyon.




We saw storming clouds had been forming and weather forecast indicated a thunderstorm was imminent.  We went back to Crawford when it was getting darker.  When we had a dinner at the restaurant just across the street from our hotel room, it started to pour heavy rain and lightning was striking crazily.  The storm came quickly but was also gone quickly; after 30 min when we finished our dinner, we could walk back to our room without umbrella.

8/19 ... 










It's time to move on to the South Rim.  There is no bridge or road through the park or connecting the rims although it is only 1100 feet wide from rim to rim at the Chasm View.  Driving from one rim to the other involves driving around 80 miles and can take 2+ hours. 











After visiting the Painted Wall View at about 4PM, we went back to Montrose to check in our hotel and took a break, and went to a nearby steakhouse to have an early nice dinner (prime rib and special seafood pasta).

8/20 ...






We went back to Montrose to have a brunch at a popular local restaurant.  After 2 days of exploration of the majestic Black Canyon of the Gunnison, we were ready to move on to our next destination, Mesa Verde National Park.

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