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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Bindu swetha May 23, 2019
The Black Canyon of Gunnison has a spectacular display of steep cliffs and spires; and old rocks. This area was established as a national monument in 1933 while it got the national park status in 1999.

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Story Behind the Name

Some parts of the canyon don't receive any sunlight at all and appear black. Thus, the place is named 'Black Canyon'. The canyon almost reaches a depth of 2,722 feet at the Warner Point. It is so deep and narrow that sunlight barely reaches these parts of the canyon, making it dark and giving off a spooky feeling!

Few Numbers

Curecanti National Area and BLM's Gunnison Gorge(14 miles) extends the length of the Canyon making a total of 53 miles.

The Painted Wall calls itself the highest cliff of Colorado with the height of 2,250 feet. 

The Narrows - the canyon's narrowest point is 40 feet wide and lies across the river.
The South Rim Campground has an elevation of 7,463 feet. Visitors need to keep themselves hydrated at this altitude to avoid fatigue and dehydration, causing serious health concerns.

1.7 billion years is the approximate age of the Precambrian rock that has been exposed at the bottom of the canyon due to constant erosion.

Fun Things to Do

Hiking Trails - At the Northen and Southern rims, the park offers various spots for hiking. Rim Rock Nature Trail (1-mile round trip), Oak Flat Loop trail (2 miles round trip), Cedar Point Nature Trail (2/3 mile round trip), and Warner Point Nature Trail (1.5 miles round trip) are the popular hiking trails at the South Rim.
Chasm View Nature Trail (1/3 mile round trip), North Vista Trail (3 to 7 miles round trip), and Deadhorse Trail (5 miles round trip) are the popular trails at the North Rim.
Scenic Drives - If you love to drive through the beautiful scenes, the North Rim road, South Rim road, and the East Portal road are a must take drive. You can drive deep down to the Gunnison River taking the East Portal road. However, the road to the river is extremely steep with hairpin curves. The North Rim and South Rim roads are closed during winters.
Wildlife Experience - With almost half of the park dedicated to the wilderness, you can witness mammals in their natural, wild habitat. Yellow-bellied Marmot, grey Rock Squirrel, Elk, Mule Deer, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Ringtail Cats, Long-tail Weasels, Smooth Green Snake, Garter Snakes, Striped Whipsnakes, and the like can be seen at the park.
Few of the lucky visitors can catch a glimpse of the Mountain lion. The place doesn't disappoint bird watchers also. Peregrine Falcon, Blue Grouse, Cooper's Hawk, Red Tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Golden Eagles, and Canyon Wren are a few noteworthy birds that can be spotted at the area.
Night Sky viewing - In some parts of the park, it is possible to see more than 15,000 stars at a given time during the night. Due to such exceptional skies, the park was designated as an International Dark Sky Park in September 2015. An astronomy festival is held in June that has special activities and interesting sessions with guest speakers.
The place also provides immense opportunities for fishing, rock climbing and kayaking.

The best time to visit the Black Canyon is summers as during winters (November to April) the North and South Rim roads are closed. However, during winters you can find opportunities like cross-country and downhill skiing.