Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Colorado 7/28/20

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Colorado

Sunny, WARM, low 90s

Ian, Court, Biff, Finn

Black Canyon of the Gunnison is about an hour and a half drive north of Telluride, near the town of Montrose. I had always heard this was one of the more underrated National Parks and it was pretty spectacular. I would have liked to have been able to hike down into the canyon, but with the dogs, our options were basically limited to the overlooks. We probably walked at least a couple of miles overall anyway, as there were paths to the overlooks of varying lengths, usually a quarter mile or so. Each overlook gave a different perspective of the canyon.

The visitor’s center was set up on tables outside and they had the stamps for our National Parks Passports, which was awesome. I was worried they might not. The park was fairly crowded for a weekday during a pandemic, but again, people in Colorado were very good about distancing and mask usage.

We got to the end of the road that followed the south rim of the canyon and had a picnic lunch in the shade. It was quite warm today at the park, which is at a similar elevation to Telluride, but in a much more exposed and less mountainous area. Highly recommend if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

Panoramic of Painted Wall

From the NPS site:

The story of Black Canyon can be summed up in three words: grow, blow, and flow. About 60 million years ago, a small area of land uplifted (grow), bringing 1.8 billion year old metamorphic rock to high elevations. This is called the Gunnison Uplift. About 30 million years ago, large volcanoes erupted on either side of this uplift, burying it in volcanic rock (blow). Then, as early as 2 million years ago, the Gunnison River began flowing in force (flow). The river and time eroded all of the volcanic rock and cut a deep canyon in the metamorphic rock below. What you see today is a deep, steep, and narrow canyon: the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

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