KUSA - Did you know there's a place in Colorado with a rock wall so tall, it dwarfs the Empire State Building? That place is the breathtaking Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
The Black Canyon stretches far beyond the 14 miles within the national park. Including the canyon within Curecanti National Recreation Area and Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area, the total length is 53 miles.
First timers are stunned to find 2,000 foot tall, narrow canyon walls dropping almost vertically to the Gunnison River roaring below in a carving process that began millions of years ago.
The Canyon gets its name because the walls are often hidden in shadows making them appear black. It has some of the world's oldest exposed rock - Precambrian or "basement" rock that is nearly 2 billion years old.
This is the perfect spot for scenic drives where can you gaze below the often guardrail-less edge at scenes that rival the Grand Canyon in places. Experienced rock climbers find a playground here, but the majority of visitors enjoy hikes, nature trails, drives, Gold Medal fishing and just taking in the natural wonders while in the park.
Near Montrose, the park's South Rim Visitors Center is open year-round and is a great starting point for any visit to the park. And make sure you check out the Blue Mesa Reservoir on the east side of the Canyon towards the town of Gunnison. The Reservoir, like the Canyon, offers some amazing photography opportunities, especially at sunrise.
If you go:
SAFETY ON THE RIM
Never throw anything from the rim into the canyon! Even a small stone can be fatal to hikers or climbers below. Stay on trails and supervise children closely. Weathered rock makes rim edges hazardous, and many places have no guardrails.
The following facilities are accessible to those with mobility impairments:
South Rim Visitor Center
Restrooms along South Rim
South Rim Campground - 2 accessible camping sites (A21, B1), restrooms
Tomichi Point Overlook
Chasm View Overlook
Sunset View Overlook
Restroom at North Rim Ranger Station
Balanced Rock Overlook
FOOD, LODGING AND SERVICES
No food, lodging, gasoline or similar services are available at either rim. Full services are available in nearby communities. Water is available mid-May through mid-October.
Weather can vary greatly between the canyon rim and canyon floor. Summer daytime temperatures range between 60 to 100F (15 to 38C), nights 30 to 50F (-1 to 10C) Winter daytime temperatures range between 20 to 40F (-6 to 4C), nights -10 to 20F (-23 to -6C) Precipitation is minimal, brief afternoon thunderstorms can occur during the summer. Layered clothing appropriate for the season is recommended.
COLLECTING IN THE PARK
Plants, rocks, wildlife and cultural artifacts must not be disturbed or removed.
Hunting is prohibited in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Learn more by visiting:
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