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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Description

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The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, near Montrose, Colorado, is a national park of stunning beauty and wildness on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. Carved by the Gunnison River, the Black Canyon National Park covers twelve miles of the 42-mile canyon and features one of the steepest canyon descents in the United States, with an average elevation change of 43 feet per mile, and a maximum of 240 feet per mile. The Black Canyon is a haven for explorative and scenic hiking, harrowing technical climbing routes and challenging kayaking.

Carved primarily out of volcanic deposits, Precambrian gneiss and schist, the Black Canyon is a dramatic, steep and narrow canyon. Its unique geologic history contributed to its formation as well as to its modern name. The canyon is so deep and steep that sunlight rarely illuminates the bottom of the canyon, making the shadowy rock appear black. At its narrowest section, the massive opposing walls are only 40 feet apart. In addition, the canyon is home to Painted Wall, which is the highest sheer cliff in Colorado at 2,250 feet. Hiking along the canyon rim, as well as down into the canyon itself, is a fantastic way to explore the landscape and appreciate the rugged beauty of the canyon and power of the river.

Many established hiking trails along the North and South rims of the canyon offer a wide variety of terrain and experiences. Nature walks of 1 mile or less are perfect for families to explore the canyon rim and see the variety of flora and fauna that flourish in the area. More adventurous hikes are also marked to further explore the canyon and its surroundings. A family favorite is the Rim Rock Nature Trail, which is relatively flat and offers bountiful views of the river and canyon walls. Seasoned hikers will enjoy Green Mountain on the North Rim, with expansive and breathtaking mountain and canyon views.

Adventurous and experienced visitors may want to explore the canyon itself and are free to do so. The added excitement and allure of exploring the canyon also comes with more risk. There are no established routes or maintained trails, and hikers must be able to safely find their own route down into the canyon and back out. Because of scree, talus, and other unstable and varied terrain, sturdy hiking boots are strongly recommended. Hikers should also be aware of the slippery rocks along the river itself as well as the strong current and chilling temperature of the water. Adequate precautions should be taken to ensure a safe and fun adventure. Any trip down into the canyon is sure to be unforgettable.

One of the most exciting and preeminent canyons in west, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison features family-friendly sightseeing as well as adventurous hiking, climbing and kayaking. Be sure to take advantage of the chance to visit one of the most rugged and memorable landscapes in Colorado.


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