July 14, 2020 Montrose, CO Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP (Day 4)

Bob had a board meeting for the Co-op via Zoom at 7:30 AM our time. It lasted until 10:30 and then we got ready to spend the day in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Ran and Jane took their truck and we took our Jeep in case we needed to return earlier than them because of Auggie and they might have wanted to drive back to see the sunset and dark sky. We all left the campground at around 11:00 and took Highway 50. It was 11 miles to Highway 347 which is the highway into Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Ran followed us in this truck and we met at the Visitor Center in the park so he could leave his truck there. Before leaving the Visitor Center, we checked out the view from the deck.

It was our first look at the Black Canyon. They call it “Black” because the walls are often in the shade and due to the black rocks.

Randy, Jane, and I walked out to Gunnison Point from the Visitor Center.

From there, we got our first look at the Gunnison River below. We marveled at how steep the canyon walls were.

Looking down gave us an eerie feeling.

Bob waited for us at the Visitor Center. He’s not real keen on heights and cliffs.

On our walk back, we ran across this small green snake. It was harmless.

The kiosks explained how the canyon was formed. The swift water of the Gunnison River and the sediment it carried were the chief cutting tools of the canyon.

We spent some time there learning all about the rocks, river, and canyon.

The South Rim Road hugged the edge of the canyon for awhile. South Rim Road is 7 miles long from the Visitor Center to High Point at the end of the road and has 12 overlooks. Most of the overlooks are reached by walking a short trail. The views of the canyon are different from each overlook or viewpoint. Bob drove until I took over at Pulpit Rock, our next stop. Bob got his view of the canyon from this vantage point high on the rock.

Next up on the road was Cross Fissures View. It was helpful to have the distances marked for each walk on the signs at each stop.

Cross Fissures View was a longer walk. Bob doesn’t like getting too close to the edge, so he walked with us for awhile and then hung back. He felt safe surrounded by these rocks.

The three of us had to get up close to check it out.

I finally convinced Bob to get a little closer to see.

The rock formations here were very interesting.

Rock Point was next around the bend and was shorter walk to see the Gunnison River below.

We could see the next overlook from where we stood. You can see the people in the picture at the top.

Each viewpoint overlook shows you a different section of the river.

We could have walked to Devil’s Overlook from this location, it was that close on the road, but we moved the Jeep closer to the entrance and walked out to the lookout.

It was one of the longer walks, so Bob and I only walked this far and let Randy and Jane go out to the end.

The view was great from where we stood.

The mountains were so close.

On our walk back to the Jeep, a guy ran past us out to the point. In the heat, that was crazy. When we got back to the Jeep, we discovered why. He had left his dog in the car with the car running. He looked so serious sitting in the driver’s seat and happy to see his owner return.

Chasm View brought us closer to river than the other lookouts had so far.

You can see the river below.

Bob braved coming over to the edge to see the river and take a picture with me.

The next stop was the Painted Wall View. Across from the lookout, we could see the beautiful Painted Wall.

At 2000 feet, the Painted Wall is the highest cliff in Colorado. If the Empire State Building stood on the canyon floor, it would be slightly more than 1/2 way to the top of the cliff. The “painted” patterns are 3-D and if the top layer of rock was shaved off, what then appeared below it would have a different pattern.

Here the Gunnison River takes a 90 degree turn.

Cedar Point was a short walk through a stand of cedar trees to the rim of the canyon.

The distant hills that we could see were the Elk Mountains.

Dragon Point was a longer trek out to view the canyon. The path to the edge of the canyon was wide and made for easy walking.

From Dragon Point, we got our best view of the greatest length of the river in the canyon. The color of the river varies with the light. Sometimes it looks green and sometimes it looks blue.

Sunset View had no trail because you can get your view of the canyon and surrounding area from the sidewalk. The view was stunning! It was clear enough to see the Grand Mesa to the right and Monument Mesa to the left far off in the background.

This is the place to be at sunset and Ran and Jane had talked about going back tonight to view it around 8:30. It had a picnic area, but no shade, so we ate our lunch in the Jeep in the AC. After lunch, I drove us to the last observation area–High Point– which is at the highest elevation on South Rim Road. We were at an elevation of 8,289 ft. From there we would catch the Warner Point Trail.

It was almost 3:00 when we started on the Warner Point Trail (1.8 mile round trip). It was the very last hike at the end of the road. The trail had a trail guide explaining the different flora and fauna along the trail with markers to show you where they were. The views from the top were jaw-dropping!

It was clear enough to see far into the valley in 3 directions. Looking south, we saw the San Juan Mountains and the Uncompahgre Valley.

To the north, we saw the West Elk Mountains.

We walked a 1/4 mile before Bob and I decided to stop. We were running out of time and with about another hour of walking to finish the hike, it was time to head back. We dropped Ran and Jane at the Visitor Center where they could pick up their truck and go back to finish the hike this afternoon. We made one last stop to check out the campground in the park before leaving. We checked out Loop A which had no electricity. Loop B had 20, 30, and 50 amp electricity. Loop C also had no electricity. Most of the sites were too small for us. We saw this unusual off-road pop-up camper.

On the drive back to the campground, we saw many small rain showers in the area, but this one was dropping more rain than most.

We got back to the campground around 4:00. It looked like we might get a shower too, so Auggie and I went for a quick walk. We noticed this great carving at one of the campsites in our campground.

We hung out in the AC and rested until dinner. We took a lot of short walks today, but there was a lot of getting in and out of the Jeep that took its toll on my joints. The higher elevations also took some adjusting to. It was good to relax. Ran and Jan did the hike in the park and took a drive on the East Portal Road which takes you down to the base of the canyon and the river. You also get a view of the Gunnison Diversion Dam. Bob thought the road looked like it was beyond his comfort level to drive, so we passed and we had to get back for Auggie. Ran said the view from the canyon bottom was awesome! We’ll put that on our list of things to do when we return again sometime. They returned around 6:30 while we were having dinner. I went to view the amazing sunset around 8:30. It looked like the sky was on fire and at times it looked like it was on fire or made of molten lave.

The sun reflected off of the mountains across from our campground and made them glow.

Later, we joined Ran and Jane at their trailer for a campfire and talked about our day. We also made plans for our last two days in this area.

3 thoughts on “July 14, 2020 Montrose, CO Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP (Day 4)”

  1. Your idea of a vacation is opposite of mine.
    I swam, baked a box cheesecake & will now finish my book “My Dear Hamilton”.
    I’m queasy from looking at all the dangerous roads, cliffs…..

  2. Maryann Schaefer

    You do a fabulous job with the pictures Cindy! And each more gorgeous than the next! Thanks for sharing-love my virtual trip!

  3. Patti McBride

    Amazing pictures!! It’s definitely going on my bucket list! Your sunset pictures are amazing as well. I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like them. Beautiful!

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