Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park is one of the three major stops on this trip. I can’t say what it was that has drawn me here, but like so many other destinations before this, I simply felt something and followed the tug. Driving in, I was not so sure that I had made the right choice. The topography seemed flat and desolate. The 11 mile road to the National Park was unpaved and there was nobody on it. On top of that this was way off our route to the next stop in Bryce National Park in Utah. And of yeah, an hour before getting on this 11 mile dirt road, I washed Roxie and the jeep for an hour while Kristi went grocery shopping. So much for that $30 car wash! There are two choices for this park. The north or the south rim. The north rim was more isolated and the campground was primitive meaning no hookups or water. We are well set up for dry camping so I choose the north side of the park. Getting to the south side is probably a 2 hour drive, so for us it was one or the other. At the end of the dirt road was a small sign that read Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
That was it. No gate, no fee, nobody. We continued on to the campground. Driving in it became clear that this was a very small campground not meant for a big RV like ours. Of the 13 sites, most were occupied by tents. I had to get out of the coach and walk each vacant site to evaluate if there was any chance of getting into it without hitting into trees or boulders. I found one site that looked like it may work although it required a little tree trimming. It was dead wood anyway, so I did not feel too bad about it. Two swings of my car wash brush on a pole and the problem was solved. With a little butter and a prayer, Kristi help squeeze me in. This is exactly why I choose to get a slightly smaller RV! These back country campgrounds are simply not made for big RVs.
So OK. Here we are. The camper is in and we are set up. Across the street 20 yards are so there was a trailhead. I grabbed Colby and headed out to explore. Not 2 minutes in the trail descended a bit and lead us to a landing that stopped me in my tracks. “OMG” might be a little overused but here it was appropriate. The view before me brought out emotions that I did not know that I had. I was literally laughing out loud and scared at the same time. If a view can be a thrill ride, this was it. This was a canyon unlike any other. It was so sharp and so deep that it was disorienting. I am not afraid of heights yet I found myself glued to a handrail.
The scope of the canyon played tricks on your brain. I immediately felt unsteady. This place was crazy. Colby felt the same unsteadiness as me. The uneasiness did not come from the height alone. It was an actual loss of perspective that messed with your brain. The only thing I could equate it to is being hammered by a wave when surfing and not being able to figure out which way is up. It was so beautiful that we ran back to the RV and told Hunter and Kristi to drop everything and come with us. They questioned me and I told them that you would never believe me unless you see it for yourself. When I led them to the landing I watched as they too steadied themselves on the handrail. Hunter had the same silly giggle as me, but Kristi looked terrified. She is the one that actually is scared of heights. We ran into several other people at this spot and they all reported the same loss of equilibrium as well as utter amazement. The giggles and smiles seemed universal. You will see the pictures, but they are all but useless. This is something to be experienced. There is no way that pictures or words can describe this place. This is a true wonder of the world. The Grand Canyon is great, but in my opinion, this blows it away. I had never heard of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park until very recently, but I will certainly never forget it. This one goes on the top 10 list!
I wish that you could all see where I am as I type these words. I am perched out over a giant granite precipice that hangs over the canyon. I set myself up here to catch up on the blog and get a little alone time. I am all setup with a folding camp chair, a cold beer and my mac. It does not get any better than this! Below is a pic of the spot without me in the chair. Too precarious for a selfie.