Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has some of the "steepest cliffs, oldest rock and craggiest spires in North America. The Gunnison River has been working for some two million years to sculpt this vertical wilderness of rock, water and sky."*
Starting out as a national monument, Black Canyon became a national park in 1999. It's named Black Canyon because it's walls appear black and some of the canyon is so deep that it never sees sunlight. It has some of the world's oldest exposed rock - estimated at 2 billion years old. Yep, billion.
The South Rim is 14 miles from Montrose and the North Rim is 63 miles from Gunnison. It's truly very desolate. And since there isn't a bridge to cross the canyon, it takes about 2 or 3 hours to drive from rim to rim. We drove the South Rim Road with it's 12 overlooks - and then, though we had planned to head out for another destination after that, we decided that we had to drive the extremely steep (16% grades) East Portal Road down to the bottom of the canyon and the Gunnison River.
Our first stop was at the South Rim Visitor Center with it's viewing platform and movie about the park. I highly recommend viewing the movie to learn about the beginnings of the canyon and it's intrepid explorers - including the 1883 Bryant Expedition who were searching to see if a railroad through the Canyon was feasible, the 1900 Pelton Expedition to see if the Gunnison could be used for irrigation and Abraham Lincoln Fellows and Will Torrence who successfully surveyed the canyon in 1901 to finally get a tunnel built there for irrigation in 1905.
How green is that water?
Today you can drive the scenic North or South Rim drives with their viewpoints, fish the Gunnison River, wildlife watch including bald eagles, kayak the Gunnison - if you are an extremely experienced kayaker - and rock climb, but as the park service states the rock climbing is "multi pitch traditional routes and not for the faint of heart." The only lodging at the park is camping with 88 of the sites located at the South Rim and available in summer only with another 28 available year round.
Can you see the fly fisherman? Still don't know how he made it there - waded across the river? Hiked down a trail?
How about you? Have you been to Black Canyon of the Gunnison? Or even heard of it?
*quoted from the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park website
Linking up with: WATW at Communal Global,The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party, Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox and The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond!