September 9, 2009
We’ve gone past the Black Canyon of the Gunnison several times. The first time we really stopped, though, was after it became Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, having originally been established as a national monument. This time we visited most of the easily accessible parts of the park.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a United States National Park located in western Colorado, and managed by the National Park Service. There are two entrances to the park; the more-developed south rim entrance is located 15 miles (24 km) east of Montrose, while the north rim entrance is located 11 miles (18 km) south of Crawford and is closed in the winter. The park contains 12 miles (19 km) of the 48-mile (77 km) long canyon of the Gunnison river. The national park itself contains the deepest and most dramatic section of the canyon, but the canyon continues upstream into the Curecanti National Recreation Area and downstream into the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area.
The area was established as a U.S. National Monument on March 2, 1933 and made into a National Park on October 21, 1999.
In the canyon
Kayakers run the river at their own risk. The Gunnison River through the National Park has claimed the lives of even the most experienced, respected kayakers. The river’s hydraulics can make self-rescue or rescue by others impossible.
Most visitors view the canyon from the south, where there are numerous overlooks, as well as a campground and trails.
A canyon overlook
Over the black canyon
The rapids within the national park are considered Class V and some sections are unrunnable. This is a very technical paddle and includes numerous long, difficult and dangerous portages. Poison ivy is nearly impossible to avoid, and can be found growing 5 feet tall along the river.
Eastern Portal – road into canyon
Commentary and images from the road
image and information from September 9, 2009