In a continuing effort to visit all the Continental US National Parks the first two stops were at Colorado National Monument and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Colorado National Monument
The morning hike was a loop hike that was accessed from just outside the park.
The Monument Canyon Trail to the Wedding Trail gave a good opportunity to see the geology up close as well as enjoy a 5-mile moderate hike that included some elevation and climbing stairs and rocks. The Wedding Trail is listed as “Unimproved” and was definitely less maintained than the Monument Canyon Trail but wasn’t a problem.
It would have been much more difficult if we had done the loop in the opposite direction as going down the “unimproved” trail didn’t prove to be overly difficult whereas trying to hike up it would have been much more difficult.
After a visit to the Visitor Center in the park to check out the displays the rim drive completed our visit to the Monument.
The rim drive has numerous overlooks and interpretive panels, which add to the enjoyment of the park. Picnic lunch on a rock overlooking one of the canyons made for a great day.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
From a base camp located at Ridgway State Park the drive to Black Canyon took right about an hour. The canyon is a deep narrow stream cut canyon with beautiful sheer walls. The elevation drop within the canyon is impressive “The river drops an average of 96 feet per mile in the National Park. It drops 480 feet in one two mile stretch.” Hard rock cut through by very fast moving water created an awesome canyon and definitely deserving of National Park status. With just a day to explore the park and as we also had the dog along out options were limited a bit. There were no hikes down into the canyon this trip.
Dogs were however allowed on the 1 mile Rim Rock Trail that runs from the Visitor Center to the Campground along the canyon rim.
This is a good hike (2 miles total) that affords great views.
The rest of the visit was filled with an auto tour along the South Rim Road and a picnic lunch stop at Sunset View (has picnic tables and a canyon view).
Then a narrow, steep and winding drive down East Portal Road to the river and one of the dams.