Because, apparently, it is impossible for us to drive too, too, too much, this year we decided to take another long road trip vacation to several of the more obscure (or unknown or less-visited) National Parks. Today we started with The Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
This park is nestled in southwest Colorado, and it took a good chunk of the day just to drive here. We left far too early for most regular humans, but Suzanne is superhuman - ultra superhuman while driving - and by lunchtime we were enjoying a tuna-chips-cookie lunch at a small and convenient park in Gunnison, Colorado, which is just a slight and curvy drive away from the national park.
The Black Canyon itself (named that way because parts of the canyon receive but half an hour of sunlight a day) is a heart-stopping sheer drop to the Gunnison river below. While we were driving into the park, I was cramming some geologic knowledge into my not-yet-mountain-acclimated shivered brain by reading one of our many park guidebooks. When Suzanne said, “Look over there,” and pointed to my left, I glanced up from my book and saw this magnificent expanse of earth-swallowing emptiness. I jumped to the side and put my hands in front of me, as if this would provide protection from any Thelma and Louise driving Suzanne might decide to do.
After our initial gawking at the canyon from the visitors’ center, we stumbled upon a ranger talk given by a peppy and knowledgeable Ranger Austin Tumas who talked about the park’s history and how, nearly a century ago, people thought it’d be clever to build a bridge connecting both sides of the canyon. Fortunately, they never got around to it. It would have ended being an Indiana Jones chasm-style bridge, permanently closed today because of our modern attitude of discouraging, say, attractions that drop people 2700 feet into a rocky river.
We hiked for a bit on the canyon’s rim, following the Warner Trail to its scenic overlook of the park. There are, of course, hikes here and there to the bottom of the canyon. The park guidebook calls these hikes “controlled sliding.” I’m not sure how you get back up.
A long line of heavy, dark clouds started coming our way, so we thought we’d head into the town of Montrose where we were staying the night. For dinner we ate at the Horsefly Brewing Company and had a few tasty burgers on the patio until the rain starting to be bothersome. By then the early morning had finally caught up with us, so zombie-like in our shambling, we headed for our VRBO rental Suzanne had booked and without further ceremony or debate, merely collapsed.
Tomorrow: White water rafting on icy snow melt. Brrrrr.