I drove through Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park last week. Wow.
The canyon is a giant, out-of-place, 3,000-foot-deep gash in the middle of nowhere in western Colorado. It’s called simply “The Black” in climbing circles, and it’s known for its big, terrifying, loose, crazy climbs. It’s home to the biggest cliff in Colorado, the 2,250-foot-high Painted Wall.
I never swear, but I’m pretty sure an expletive slipped out when I got out of my car and got my first look at the canyon. It’s amazing. It’s a very narrow, dark, ominous, scary place, even when looking down into it from the top. You can hear the roar of the Gunnison River a few thousand feet below. At first glance, it’s hard to get a sense of scale. You think, “Meh, the river’s only a few hundred feet down there.” But then you realize that two Sears Towers–one stacked on top of the other–could fit inside of it, and your eyes get really wide.
I’ve been to most of the big national parks in the West, and I have to say that this really is one of the most spectacular and underrated. It’s Yosemite gone over to the Dark Side.
I need to go back.
[As always, click each photo for the larger version]