There is a canyon with cliffs more sheer than the Grand Canyon and the same breathtaking, vertigo inducing views. It’s capacious, has easy access to the rim, and is in the neighboring state of Colorado. It’s a National Park! Only I had never heard of it until two months ago.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is remote. The closest towns are Montrose and Crawford, two tiny dots on the map, we’re talking boondocks territory. But, like many people, I love the National Parks and want to visit as many as possible in my lifetime. So when Mountain Dad suggested we check it out I jumped at the chance. Now’s a good time too with the #FindYourPark campaign celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service in August 2016.
On this trip with the tots, Mountain Dad and I were looking forward to some short hikes on the South rim of the Black Canyon. These kinds of excursions are great for kids. Short, with stunning views and fairly level terrain, we can do several in an afternoon.
We visited on Little G’s birthday, so of course we had to visit the gift shop first. Both Little G and Big E got a stuffed animal souvenir and a Junior Ranger activity book. Although Little G had no desire to complete the Junior Ranger coloring book, Big E did. That’s a major step for us. We’ve visited lots of National Parks in Big E’s 6 years and he hasn’t ever wanted to participate in this awesome program.
The Junior Ranger program teaches kids about National Parks through activities and challenges. Once the workbook is completed, the child can receive a badge from a ranger. It’s a fun way to learn about animals, plants, geology and ancient cultures that are part of the Park.
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is truly was stunning. The rocks are dark and ominous, the sheer cliffs breath taking. Unfortunately so were the storm clouds overhead.
Our plan to take several short hikes to various viewpoints was thwarted when the clouds ripped open. I haven’t been caught in a storm like that in a long time. Cold, pouring rain that struck when we were at the exact farthest point from our car. It was cold and miserable.
And that wasn’t the end of the misery. Our usually happy Baby L revolted on the two hour drive back to camp and screamed, cried, and wailed the whole way home. Everyone in the car was frazzled and on edge and even though we stopped several times to feed, change and soothe her she wasn’t interested in calming down. It was not fun.
Overall I enjoyed the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, but I’m glad the experience is over.