Almost as if a slow magic spell has been cast the morning light cautiously travels deeper, awakening the darkness of the Black Canyon and the gentleness that rests my soul. Asleep in the steepness, minerals blink, flashing messages as they are touched by dawn. – Mimi Gorman, “A Canyon’s Morning Light” The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado is one of the newer parks having been named a National Park in 1999. We arrived mid-week, by design, to avoid the busiest times in the parks and the high traffic days on the road. We had a reservation for June 12-18 on the south rim, but had left June 11 open prepared to stop along the way but instead missing the intended campground. Not to worry, the canyon was ready for our early arrival and we quickly secured a site with the first night with no hookups (no water, sewer or electric). Our trailer is outfitted to go at least a week conservatively without any hookups so we weren’t worried about the apparent lack of conveniences. Also, as we later learned, the park is within twenty minutes of the city of Montrose where we were able to dump and restock the fresh water supply in the camper. Mornings we spent hiking in the park, leaving the afternoons for lazing around in loungers observing the wildlife, plenty of mule deer in the campsite especially in the evenings, lots of birds routing around and making a ruckus in the brush or soaring on the thermals, ducks bathing and swimming in the Gunnison River, and, so we were warned but did not see, black bears. There is a very nice scenic rim drive at the canyon which has numerous stops where you are required to hike a short distance up to about a mile to get to the most picturesque overlooks that we found to be the source of many a photograph and a selfie or two. The other trek on our agenda was a drive to the east portal, which is at the base of the canyon – we had to see the river that beckons to you with its beauty from many a high-rise outlook. The ride down consisted of a sixteen-degree decline and was a bear of a drive. But after arriving we were rewarded with spectacular views and sounds of the river at the Gunnison Tunnel and Diversion Dam. Earlier in the week, we had wanted to take a boat tour into the mouth of the canyon, but were told the water was flowing too swiftly through the open dam. The increase in the water flow was very evident at the base and we enjoyed our lunch with the roar of the river in the background. Experienced our first stunning national park sunset and we howled at the full moon because that’s how we roll. After seeing the Black Canyon of the Gunnison we are not sure we believe Palo Duro to be the second largest canyon in the United States. But they do say everything is bigger in Texas!
Up Next: Dinosaur National Monument