On a road trip out west centered around a hike in the Grand Canyon I was in need of a picnic table to cook my rama noodles. I had never been out west, so instead of taking the interstate out of Denver I took the scenic route through the towns of Gunnison, Ouray, and Durango.
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison for lunch
Just west of Gunnison a brown sign pointed to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument (it has since been designated a national park). I figured there would be a picnic table somewhere in the park. I pulled in and had to pay a national park entrance fee. I opted for the full year since I was going to Grand Canyon and Zion over the next couple of weeks.
Before I found my picnic table I came across a sign for an overlook. I decided to check it out thinking it might be a nice view. When I got to it my mouth dropped at the chasm in front of me. The Gunnison River has carved a mini Grand Canyon here, and I was amazed at what I had stumbled upon at this park I had never heard of.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison is my official welcome to the west
The canyon was like a big welcome sign to the beauty of the west. The reason why the park is not well known is because of its proximity to places like the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and Zion, but for those that pass by this amazing national park it is definitely worth a stop for the overlook alone.
I recently read a post by Suzy Guese that discussed how she loves the adventure to a destination as much and sometimes even more than the destination itself. Everyone loves a road trip and one of the great parts about America is the accessibility of cool places that lie along the route.
This was one of those moments for me. I knew the Grand Canyon and Zion would be awesome, but I did not know that I would stand before a sight like this well before reaching those iconic parks.
For those smitten by the beauty of these pictures and who might be soon taking a similar road trip plan to stay awhile at the Black Canyon National Park. There is a campground there and they have all sorts of hiking opportunities as well as rock climbing, and expert kayaking. The rapids are class V and so dangerous that even whitewater rafting is not allowed through the park; however rafting is allowed just northwest of the park in the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area.
Unfortunately, I could not stay long as I had to be at a Grand Canyon trailhead the next morning to meet a guided group of hikers through the Grand Canyon Field Institute. I found my picnic table, cooked my rama noodles, took one more look at the gorge and continued on my way to Arizona.
On my way home I drove back farther north, but next time I am in the area I plan to explore the Black Canyon of the Gunnison a little further.
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Good work, Ted, you did indeed find one of our hidden treasures…..the view is awesome…..and its history is amazing also, Think Lewis and Clark…..have a great trip!!
What an awesome picnic ground. Our Grand Canyon vsit was definitely one of the highlights of our driving holiday several years ago. Seeing it’s grandeur,we decided on making another trip to see more of the US national parks, thus our last trip to the Four Corners. And after seeing the awesomeness of Utah and Colorado, another trip is being planned…
What a great place to have a picnic! Awesome to have an undiscovered place like this! I will have to ask my wife if she has heard about this place because she went to school in this area.
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Great photos Mr. Ted.
I remember you mentioned that you’d been to Telluride. Was this before, after or the same trip. You picked a beautiful detour. The Colorado Rockies are breathtaking and there are so many great back roads you can take and get “lost”.
I love when this happens! Finding a hidden site that is just as impressive as what you came out for certainly makes for a great trip.
What a view! I have never been out there but it’s ‘on the list.’ Thanks Ted.
You indeed found one of Colorado’s many “Hidden Gems”. The Cimarron & San Juan mountain ranges are gorgeous. If you liked the Grand Canyon you need to visit the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction & the Utah border. It’s been called Colorado’s Grand Canyon and many people I’ve met there like it as much as the original.
That is good to know Bill. Next time I am in the area I will check it out.