Painted Wall: The Painted Wall is one of the most popular views within Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The 2,250 feet cliff is the tallest cliff in Colorado and third tallest in the U.S. The name comes from the various lines in the granite wall that looks like paint swatches have been made across the face of the wall. The wall stands 2,250 feet from the canyon rim to the Gunnison River. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com
Pulpit Rock Viewpoint: A view from the Pulpit Rock viewing area with a view of the Gunnison River in the bottom of the canyon. We visited the park this summer when the sun was high in the sky and the river was easily visible. In winter months portions of the river in the narrows area only see the sun for 30 minutes a day. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com
By GARY WARREN
Formerly of Los Alamos
Colorado is home to four U.S. National Parks and each park offers its own unique features.
The most popular of the four parks is Rocky Mountain National Park, which is one of the most visited of all National Parks. The other three parks are all smaller in size and number of annual visits and include Great Sand Dunes National Park, Mesa Verde National Park and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
While Black Canyon of the Gunnison is both the smallest in land size and least visited of the four parks, this geological wonder offers a great experience for visitors with its own awe-inspiring views, features and landscape.
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP is in western Colorado. The south rim entrance is most popular and is just a few miles east of Montrose, Colo. The north rim of the canyon is open during summer months and offers more limited amenities than the popular south rim. The nearest town to the north rim is Crawford, Colo.
The south rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park offers a variety of activities for visitors but the most popular activity is enjoying the jaw dropping views from the view points along the park’s scenic drive. The drive is seven miles long and offers views from 12 viewpoints. Each of the viewpoints offer a different perspective and view of the incredibly deep and narrow canyon.
When describing the Black Canyon of the Gunnison think steep, deep, and narrow. The canyon is 2,700 feet deep with sheer canyon walls lining much of the canyon. The canyon narrows to 1,300 feet at the rim and narrows to only 40 feet at the narrowest point along the river. There are areas of the park that only see 30 minutes of daylight a day during certain times of the year.
There are deeper canyons but the narrow spread between rims and the steep and deep canyon walls create a wow factor unique to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The views are truly dramatic from any view point in the park.
Other activities include camping, picnicking, hiking and walking the nature trails. Birds such as eagles, hawks, and falcons can be seen above the canyon and wildlife can be spotted within the park. Star gazing at the night sky is a popular as the park is designated as a Dark Sky Park.
If traveling the western portion of Colorado a stop at Black Canyon of the Gunnison will not disappoint. The park can easily be seen within a one day or less if time is a factor. If time allows, camping and hiking and other activities will give visitors a more complete appreciation of this magnificent park.
Editor’s note: Longtime Los Alamos photographer Gary Warren and his wife Marilyn are traveling around the country, and he shares his photographs, which appear in the “Posts from the Road” series published in the Sunday edition of the Los Alamos Daily Post.
Chasm Point: The Gunnison River flows east to west as if passes through Black Canyon. The descent in the river is steep as well. The average descent of the river is 43 feet/mile but the river is descending at 240 feet/mile below the Chasm View Point. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com
Sunset Viewpoint: The Sunset Viewpoint shows the canyon as it begins to open before flowing into the valley in the distance. The steep walls of the canyon are to the east of this viewpoint. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com
Visitors at Sunset Point: Visitors are seen as they gaze into the Black Canyon and admire the stunning views. The Gunnison River begins north of Gunnison, Colo. and runs for180 miles before flowing into the Colorado River at Grand Junction, Colo. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com