The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a recent addition to our national park system. It was created in 1999. Before that, it was a national monument, established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.
Photos from Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Here are a few photos taken from overlooks along the South Rim Drive, between East Portal and Sunset Point.
More about Black Canyon
Here is a little more information about the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. If you want to skip the rest of this post, got to the National Park Service website for the park at: https://www.nps.gov/blca/learn/nature/geology.htm.
The park follows both sides of the Gunnison River, between Curecanti National Recreation Area (southeast) and Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area to the northwest. Or, easier to picture, from just west of Gunnison to just north of Montrose.
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is not the deepest, longest, or or shearest canyon in the United States. But, according to Duane Vandenbusche, “none combines the depth, sheerness, narrowness, darkness, and dread of the Black Canyon.” In his book Images of America: The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Vandenbusche also states that part of the gorge received less than 33 minutes of sunlight a day. Hence the name: Black Canyon.
There is considerable history associated with the national park. On its website, the National Park Service provides many resources to help visitors connect with this history. However, what makes Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park special is its geology.
Spread out before you is 1.7 billion year old metamorphic gneiss and schist, revealed by the downward cutting of the Gunnison River. And, through this metamorphic rock, pink and white pegmatites made of a granite-like rock flow like giant veins. The Painted Wall, on the north side of the canyon, is the most dramatic example of this veined formation.
Here is more information about the canyon’s geologic past, provided by the National Park Service.
More photos taken in the San Juans
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