Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Since we are camped only about 30 miles from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, we decided to spend the morning there yesterday. It's a quick zip up the 550 to Montrose, then a few miles east on the 50 to the turnoff for the park. You make your way up a good-sized ridge (the edge of the Gunnison Uplift), pay your $15 entrance fee, and drive to the first overlook.

View east from Tomichi Point, the first viewpoint you get to after you enter the park.

One of the views from Gunnison Point, near the Visitor Center

Looking down at the Gunnison River in the bottom of the canyon.

Another view of the Gunnison River

The canyon wall just north of the Visitor Center

Looking east from Gunnison Point

Looking down from Chasm View - this is where the canyon walls are closest together. A ranger who had just finished a geology talk (darn, we missed it!) said the North Rim is only 1100' away.

Looking northwest from Sunset View.  You can see the western edge of Grand Mesa, along with two  geological curiosities:  the uncomformity above the gneiss/monozonite and below the Entrada sandstone and Red Canyon.  The unconformity means that millions of years of rock were worn away on top of the gneiss/monozonite before the thin Entrada sandstone layer was laid down.  You can barely see a portion of the Entrada at the top left at the center of the ridge, and another part of it at top right.

View from Cedar Point

We did NOT plan the lookalike blue shirts.

View west from Painted Wall View

This gnarled juniper reminded me of a bristlecone pine

The Painted Wall.  It looks like this because molten pegmatite, the pinkish rock, came up and filled all the cracks in the gneiss.  It solidified, making the wall even more impermeable.  

By the time we'd finished viewing all the viewpoints - some with nice hikes to get to them - it was 12:30 and blazingly hot.  We drove back into Montrose and enjoyed a nice lunch and lots of iced tea at Applebees before returning to our campsite in Ridgway.  And, of course, Don spent another successful evening on the river.


Margie M. said...

We were at the Gunnison in May and, like you guys, we found it to be wonderful and beautiful. Your pics were great today. Thanks for sharing them.

JODI said...

Georgous place! We were there in June and attempted our first canyon hike. It was me who couldn't handle the challenge and made my family turn back. It was an awesome experience...maybe another time, another canyon.