Deep, Steep and Narrow – The Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Another impressive sight – this time a deep, narrow and rugged canyon in central Colorado. It’s a couple thousand feet deep, yet in places it’s only a quarter mile wide at the top and less than a hundred feet wide at the bottom. Many of the canyon walls seem to be near vertical. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is interesting example of what water can do when it’s in a hurry to get down a hill.

We spent the day touring, taking short hikes, and checking out the overlooks.

It’s possible to hike/scramble to the bottom of the canyon. The trails are not marked and very steep – as much as 1900 ft. in a mile of scramble. We stayed up on the rim.

Late in the afternoon, as we were leaving, we overheard a Ranger talking to a middle aged man. We inferred that someone was lost in the canyon and asked the man if we could help. He explained that he and his wife had hiked to the bottom and his wife had taken a different route up and had not been seen since. The ranger was hiking up and down various trails looking for her. We hung around to see if he needed anything, but though quite distressed, declined our offers.

Hope she’s OK. It’ll be freezing tonight, and as all he had was a water bottle and summer clothes, odd are that she’s not prepared either.

Early in the day there was more haze. I suspect that it’s pollution, not smoke. When we were in Dinosaur National Monument years ago, the Park claimed that California and China both contribute to the haze in the west.

Photos don’t adequately represent the canyon. I’ll try anyway.

View of the canyon near the visitor center. Haze reduced visibility early in the day
Same part of the canyon, slightly less haze later in the day.

The last two photos show the near vertical canyon walls.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is obviously not anywhere near the scale of the Grand Canyon, but because it’s much easier to see the far rim – a quarter or half mile away instead of eleven miles, and because of the depth and narrowness, it’s in some ways more interesting.

3 Comments

  1. Snow coming next week for high country! Good links for high country weather reports at end of this short article!
    Foot

  2. Our son lives west of Denver, but we have never explored this area. have to get threre.

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