Have you heard of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?
Noooo, you say? I hadn’t either — not until last month when I liiiiiiterally found it by accident and consequently had my mind blown forever. Isn’t it the coolest when you’re casually driving through the magical nature wonderland that is southwest Colorado and you stumble upon YET ANOTHER magical nature wonderland in the form of an under-the-radar US national park that you’ve never even heard of? (East coast problems?)
Making my way back to Boulder from Telluride, I fueled up in the town on Montrose, made small talk with an elderly gentleman with a Pennsylvania license plate at the gas station, and hit the road. Just a few miles outside of the town, I saw a sign pointing to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park that caught my attention. “Wut? Wut is this?” I thought. I turned left.
The National Park Service says it best: “Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky.”
Uhhhhhhh, overwhelming? GOT THAT RIGHT.
The drive back to Boulder would be long, but this was gonna be good. So with no idea what to expect, into the park I drove. And at the first scenic overlook, I understood what this place was all about. I was right – IT WAS TOTALLY GONNA BE GOOD.
I spent 2-3 hours driving through the park, stopping at scenic overlooks, walking out through the little trails, taking photos and soaking in the warm late-September Colorado sunshine out in the great outdoors.
(Look closely for my salamander pal.)
After some time, I headed back in the direction of the entrance of the park where there was a fork in the road. I took the road I hadn’t taken the first time around, and this time was lead down through the depths of the canyon. Once I reached the bottom, I went for a little riverside stroll:
I was only able to explore a fraction of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, but I’m so glad I spotted the sign and had the time to see what I could see. It was such an unexpected pitstop, and what greater way to spend a sunny Sunday than to meander around a totally unfamiliar, totally other-worldly natural national park in your very own state? America is the coolest, and this trip to BCGNP only sparked more of desire within me to see more of our national parks.
Have you been to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park? What’s your favorite national park?