Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument Things to Do

  • The Painted Wall
    The Painted Wall
    by Tom_Fields
  • More of the canyon
    More of the canyon
    by Tom_Fields
  • Western end of the canyon
    Western end of the canyon
    by Tom_Fields

Most Recent Things to Do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument

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    Black Canyon

    by Tom_Fields Written Aug 1, 2012
    The Painted Wall
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    Next to Arizona's Grand Canyon, this is the most spectacular canyon in the southwest. Its sharp spires and rock faces are unforgettable. Unlike some of the other attractions out west, this one is not often crowded. There's little traffic or smog.

    Along the road are numerous short hiking trails, offering more views of the canyon and of occasional wildlife.

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    High Point

    by Basaic Written Nov 4, 2011

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    High Point

    High Point is the last overlook along the South Rim Road. It is a good example of a Pinyon Pine/Juniper Forest. The type of trees in the forest depend on the climactic environment where they are located. Pinyon Pines and Junipers are specially adapted for the harsh arid climate and thin soil of Black Canyon. There is a hiking trail here leading to Warner Point the deepest part of the canyon at 2772 feet.

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    Sunset View

    by Basaic Written Nov 4, 2011

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    Sunset View
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    Sunset View is of interest for at least two reasons. One, it is a beautiful place to view a sunset and it is also a great place to view what geologists call an "unconformity". An "unconformity" is an absence of part of the geological record. This absence can be caused by a lack of deposits during that time period or uneven erosion. Sunset View has an easily observable "unconformity". The lighter colored rock you see in Photo 2 is Entrada Sandstone (165 to 170 million years old), which is laying directly on top of 1.75 billion year old rock. This indicates a gap in the geologic record of over 1 billion years.

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    Painted Wall

    by Basaic Written Nov 4, 2011

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    Painted Wall

    At 2300 feet, the Painted Wall is the highest cliff in the entire state of Colorado. If the Empire State Building was placed on the canyon floor it would only reach about halfway up the canyon wall. The name Painted Wall, came about because of the lighter colored igneous rock that was squeezed (or intruded) into the existing rock then cooled and hardened.

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    Chasm View

    by Basaic Written Nov 4, 2011

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    Chasm View
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    The Narrows, between Pulpit Rock and Chasm View, is the shallowest (1750 feet) and narrowest (1/4 mile) part of the canyon. This very narrow part of the canyon is further indication of the power caused by the rapidly moving water of the Gunnison River.

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    Pulpit Rock

    by Basaic Written Nov 4, 2011

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    Pulpit Rock
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    Notice the difference in the canyon walls at this overlook. Although the movement of the river through the canyon is the main factor in the formation of the canyon; moisture in the form of rain, snow and frost collects in the cracks in the rock and adds to the erosion. The South Rim is more eroded because it does not get as much sun and dries out more slowly.

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    Gunnison Point

    by Basaic Written Nov 4, 2011

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    Gunnison Point
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    Gunnison Point is a good place to see pegmatite dikes, which are lighter bands of igneous rock that have been squeezed into small fissures in the darker rock that forms most of the walls of Black Canyon (especially visible on GP4). The pegmatite dikes erode slower than the softer rock around it forming the fins along the canyon walls. These pegmatite dikes are visible at most overlooks.

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    Bristlecone Pines

    by Basaic Written Nov 4, 2011

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    Bristlecone Pine

    To me, one of the most interesting looking trees is the Bristlecone Pine. It looks very rugged appearing almost dead (or at least dying) while actually quite alive. The Bristlecone Pine is also one of the longest lived plants in the world. There are Bristlecone Pines at Great Basin that are almost 5000 years old.

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    Have a Picnic

    by Basaic Written Nov 4, 2011
    Picnic Table

    The park has picnic areas in a few different parts of the park should you wish to dine in the great outdoors. The easiest to access is the one just across the parking area from the dunes. Some of these sites are set aside for handicapped use.

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  • dutch_anna's Profile Photo

    Black Canyon of the...

    by dutch_anna Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
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    Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

    You can camp in the Park. No electricity, and it was very quiet. Just us and the stars. You pay the camping fee by putting the money ( $4.- in '95, I see, that it is now $5.-) in an envelope and the envelope in a box. The nights are very cold in May, but wow, what a scenery!

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  • KiKitC's Profile Photo

    South Rim Drive

    by KiKitC Updated Jun 11, 2009

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    Look...no guardrails...
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    Ride along the rim of this spectucular gulch. If you are acrophobia(afraid of heights) beware. The two lane road is paved all throughout this area of the park, but the road winds along the cliff edges, and often there are no guradrails on curves. I know they make me nervous.
    The views from up here are amazing, and every turn on the road offers another, completely unique, breath-taking view.

    There are plenty of places along the road to stop. Each point has a little observation deck, complete with nice thick steel guardrail, so even I could stand nearer to the edge...
    The road winds around, up to High Point, then turns you around back towards the visitors center. So, if one stop is full, you can always stop there on the way back down. Some stops have a short walk to the deck, but the views are worth it.

    South Rim Drive is closed in winter past the Visitor's Center. The road remains open all year to this point.

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    East Portal Road

    by KiKitC Updated Oct 5, 2007

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    Road not for the faint...
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    This two-lane road which will take you down to the bottom of the canyon has extremely steep, 16% grades and hairpin turns. Not for the faint of heart. And, for good reason, this road is closed in winter.

    There is picknicking, a recreation area and camping down below, as the road winds along the river. The road passes through some private property, but as always, stay on the roads and stop where the park system has set-up for parking.

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    Painted Wall

    by painterdave Written Jun 29, 2007

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    Info Boards will describe its geological history

    One of the first writers to describe the canyon named this rock wall, "Painted Wall". The walk to this overlook is one of the longer ones, taking maybe 10 minutes of a walk, but it is worth it.
    You can find this and many more overlooks by driving west from the Visitor's Center.

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    Viewing the bottom

    by painterdave Written Jun 29, 2007

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    looking down river from the campground area
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    You can drive a very steep road to the bottom from the south side. Don't plan to drive an RV or pull a trailer down this road, it is too steep and there is no place to turn around. Good brakes are a necessity.
    Once at the bottom you can drive nearly all the way to the dam, or in the other direction go to the end of the road, which is a campground.
    There is a picnic area on the way to the dam. However, you can also use the tables in the campground for a picnic if they are not used by campers. It makes for a pleasant afternoon, and there will be fishermen fly fishing because this river is a Gold Water Area of the U.S. There are some big fish waiting. To fish this area you must use only flies or lures and barbless hooks. All fish must be returned to the river.
    There is water available down there, but no concessions. Vault Toilets.

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    Crystal Dam

    by RebeccaParker Updated Dec 5, 2004

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    Crystal Dam and Spillway

    Crystal Dam slows the flow of the Gunnison River through the canyon and provides irrigation to nearby Montrose. It is truley amazing to see what man was capable of building, without injury, back when all they had were shovels and a plan. There are several historical signs detailing the building of the damn and it's history. Also, there is several calm fishing spots along the way for fishing from the bank or if your a fly fisherman, then you have it made in the shade.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument Things to Do

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