Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado – American Road Trip (pt26)
Sept 23, 2015. Day 45 of my American Road Trip.
After my early morning exploring in Switzerland of America, I made the 1-hour drive north to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. With all the wonders Colorado has to offer and the slew of National Parks nearby in Utah, Black Canyon of the Gunnison is often missed. Without a good friend telling me I had to see it, I too would have missed it too.
The park has two entrances and driving routes on either side of the canyon, South Rim and North Rim. The South Rim route is the more popular route because it’s where the Visitor Center is located, has the best canyon view points, and isn’t closed in the winter. That kinda helps. The North Rim route also has view points but it’s just a little harder to get to since there isn’t a bridge over the canyon. A quick look at the park map will give you a feel for the routes if you’re really interested.
After entering the park, I made my way to the South Rim Visitors Center so I could pick up a map and talk to a Ranger about what I should see. As usual, I got some good advice on the best viewpoints to visit if I was only planning on spending half a day in the park.
I made it through the entire park and most of the scenic viewpoints in about five to six hours. That included a nice hike up to Warner’s Point at the end of South Rim driving route and about an hour hike near the visitor center. The Warner Point views were the best of the entire park and well worth the 45 minute or so hike to get to it. There are a couple of spots where you’re right on the edge of the cliff and it definitely makes the ol heart beat a little faster.
Another cool viewpoint was, “Painted Wall.” At 2300 feet / 700 meters, it’s the tallest cliff in Colorado. As the sign reads, if the Empire State building stood at the bottom it would only reach slightly more than halfway to the top of the cliff. And of course the patterns you see were created by molten lava squeezing through the rocks over a billion years ago.
That was my quick trip to Black Canyon of the Gunnison. While there are many great viewpoints of the canyon and river, my hike up to Warner Point at the end of the South Rim driving route was the best part of my visit. It’s a bit of a steep hike, but very relaxing and peaceful once you get there. Then you just sit for a while and take it all in. There’s no better place in the park to fully absorb the enormity and beauty of this canyon than Warner Point.
After canyon, I was on my way to Grand Junction, Colorado for a quick overnight and another surprisingly cool monument, the Colorado National Monument.
Have a great week,