This modern slideshow video features majestic views of Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park. The Rim Road Touring Route, North Rim and East Portal are all pictured. I visited this park on three separate occasions at various times of day, so it is easy to see how sunlight affects the scenery. With bright sunlight this canyon looks medium gray and every detail can be seen. When clouds pass over the park, the deep abyss turns a shadowy black shade and the dark ominous views certainly are gripping to experience.
There are two touring routes in Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and the overlooks can all be easily accessed by the roadside. Several hiking trailheads can be found along the touring loops, but it is best to check the conditions ahead of time because some trails are difficult. Rock climbing, fishing and river rafting activities also abound in this park.
The main entrance to this national park is located on Highway 50 near Montrose, Colorado, where fishing permits can be found. The Curecanti National Recreation Area is located next door and the Gunnison River ties these two national parks together. A visitor will have to pass through Curecanti to get to the north rim of Black Canyon, so it is best to plan on taking the extra time to explore both destinations while in the neighborhood. A separate Curecanti NRA video will be published soon.
Black Canyon most definitely is a deep, dark and mysterious place to be. This is a place where the bedrock does the talking and all that a listener can do is stare in awe. One of the main Black Canyon features to look for are the towering jagged rock spires. There are hundreds of mythical looking rock spires in this deep canyon and most have interesting given names. Rock formations like the Kneeling Camel and the Islands are also easy to spot.
Unlike the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the composition of Black Canyon mainly consists gneiss, which is an extremely hard metamorphic composition of schist and granite. This type of rock strata can reflect bright gray shades in sunny daylight, while alternately it looks jet black under thick cloud cover. There is also a thick igneous cap covering this area that casts some grayish rusty brown colors, so the appearance is not always dark and dreary.
Because of the extreme dynamic range of this landscape, photographers must carefully plan the day to make the most of the opportunities that Black Canyon presents. A wide angle kit zoom lens is a good choice for a day trip in this park because of the rugged conditions. This canyon is so deep that framing a portion of sky into the picture may end up being an impossible dream. When the sun shines, great care must be taken to not overexpose highlights because of wide swings in dynamic range. Many photo exposure challenges will arise at Black Canyon, which means it is best to record in RAW format so any corrections can be made later while processing the image files.
There are some nice picnic table spots near the rim that offer great views, but there are very few shade trees in this rugged high elevation environment. The short stubby twisted tree trunks on the rim are a good indicator of just how harsh the environmental conditions can be. The cracked jagged canyon walls indicate extreme freeze and thaw cycles. Most of all, the bright glare of the sunlight can be absolutely blinding up in these mountains. As can be imagined, sunglasses are a must for this park on a bright sunny day.
Black Canyon is very deep and scary, so it does not pay to take risks near the rim. This is especially true on a windy day, because the gusts that roar through this high elevation canyon are strong enough to pick an average size human being up off the ground. On a windy day the turkey vultures and ravens literally soar through the narrow gorges at speeds well over 80 mph. This is an amazing sight to see and the ultra fast moving big black birds are very challenging to photograph. The strong winds can easily turn capturing views of the deep abyss into a very dangerous proposition, so great care must be taken. For most people, the overall touring experience will be miserable on a windy day, so it is best to check the weather forecast prior to arrival.
Black Canyon definitely is not a good choice for those who suffer from acrophobia. This is not the kind of place where children or pets can run amok. Keeping things in perspective is always good when touring dangerous places and preventative measures will ensure a safe visit. Black Canyon certainly is one of the most beautiful dangerous places on earth so be sure to check it out!
Rim Drive 0:14
East Portal Road 8:15
North Rim Ranger Station 13:57
North Rim Drive 15:54
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*This website will be going through renovations soon. Separate destination articles will be combined after the videos replace the outdated photo gallery system. As many readers know, most of the writing was done on the fly while camping, so many articles read like a rough draft. The articles will be cleaned up and edited. Many of the old photos were straight out of the camera due camping limitations as well, so you will finally see full living color images, just like in the new videos. Another goal is to make navigating the index pages easier and condensing the articles will help. This website will continue into the future and your patience is greatly appreciated!
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