Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Saturday, August 3, 2013 – This morning, we got an early start, leaving behind south-central Colorado. It had been a lot of fun exploring this area, made easier by all the info that Sally and Tracy had passed along to us. Thanks guys for sharing this special place with us. Maybe sometime, we will  have to see Colorado together.  : )

The next few days, were going to be mostly just driving. We DO have to cover some miles if we are to get to Oregon by Aug 6th.  But today, we planned to only cover about 300 miles, knowing that we wanted to stop by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National park, which was right along our route.


We took a couple of hours to explore the Black Canyon, stopping at the visitor’s center for a nice film, then taking the rim drive and walking out to the overlooks.IMG_2711

The day was hot, with the noon-day sun overhead, so we were not inclined to do much hiking.  I knew that the noon sun and background haze was not going to make for a great photo day, but we just couldn’t help but snap picture after picture of this amazing gorge.


The Gunnison River cut this canyon so deep and so steep and narrow, that very little sunlight penetrates it, giving the canyon its name, the Black Canyon.


The Black Canyon has been a formidable barrier to humans…..Only its rim, never the gorge, show evidence of human occupation. The first written record of this canyon came from the Hayden expedition in 1873-1874, who deemed this canyon ‘inaccessible’.


Hard, black rock carved over 2 million years…..at the rate of one inch per century!


The desire to access the Gunnison River and divert it for irrigation into the nearby Uncompahgre Valley, led to attempts to float the river. In 1901, two men successfully floated the Gunnison River on a rubber mattress – 33 miles in 9 days- and deemed an irrigation tunnel feasible. The 5.8 mile Gunnison Diversion Tunnel, built in 1905-1909, still delivers water for irrigation.


This is Pulpit Rock overlook….aptly named.


We stopped for a lunch break at the Painted Rock overlook. The white stripes are molten rock that was extruded, under pressure, into the rock layers. A beautiful view to accompany our sandwiches……

Though others might like a closer up experience of the canyon……..


Our visit to the Black Canyon was just a brief taste….and then we were back on the road.

Our stop for the night was Green River, Utah. We stayed at the Green River State Park, a lovely little campground in the center of town, right next to a golf course. It had nice trees and shade, a lovely cool (or at least cooler) oasis  in the 90+ degree desert landscape.

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