Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Location: Elk Creek Campground (National Forest); Gunnison, Colorado (elev 7,600 ft)

all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone

Still at Stop # 6
I first noticed the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park on Google Earth a few years ago as I was traveling in the west. It looked very interesting but I couldn't work it into my travel plans so it stayed on my "places to see" list. Well, I saw it yesterday and it became my 18th National Park (rough count) that I've visited since I started traveling in 2014. 
It was another pretty day to drive to the National Park

It's a nice park with some really great views of the Black Canyon. I especially like the East Portal road that takes you to the bottom of the canyon to the river. It is a drop in elevation of 1,800 feet. The road is rough and includes a few miles of 16% grade. Yep, I didn't stutter, 16%. Once you get to the bottom, the river is calm and flows smoothly. There is a campground in the bottom with picnic areas. There is no way I'll take Liberty down there, but I did take a lunch with me knowing there might be a nice place along the river to eat it. It was a left over hamburger from the night before. Food always seem to taste better when you have a nice view. 

Another warning sign on a road I'm about to go on. This one says "extreme grades & sharp curves ahead". They weren't lying. 

Yeah, buddy, that's an extreme grade. For those who don't do a lot of traveling, most well traveled roads top out in the 6% range. 16% is very unusual but I was excited to give it a try. 

Since there weren't many people on the road, I could stop to take pictures every now and then. Way down there is the rest of the road.

Way down there is the Gunnison River with the road on the lower right side of the picture.

My view as I ate my lunch. The temperature was in the low 70's with a nice breeze blowing. The river was slowly passing. It was a nice lunch, not as good as Taco Bell, but still pretty good. 

The rest of the national park is located on the top of a mesa and includes several turnouts where you can take a short walk to the edge of the canyon and look down into it or across at the other side. I think I may be getting jaded because I couldn't get excited about some of the places. I guess after the Grand Canyon, Palo Duro, Royal Gorge, Canyonlands, etc, a person gets a little burned out seeing places like this, even when it is spread out over a few years. I seem to be running out of patience in seeing some of the things I wanted to see. The mountains and canyons are pretty, but like Reagan said of the Redwood Trees, "once you've seen one, you've see them all." I need to think on this jaded attitude some more. Maybe I just need a change of scenery since I've been at this campground for four days. 
One of the views from up top of the park while looking down at the valley. You can see some snow still on the mountains in the distance.

A different view of some different mountains but a little closer this time.

I found a bench but it was occupied. 

Some more mountains. They almost look fake, it real life as well as in this picture. 

Going down from the park there is another rare road sign. I'm not sure what it is called, "snake sign"?

As I was driving back to the campground this deer/elk (I've given up trying to ID them) ran out in front of me. It stopped in my lane, looked at me, then jogged on across. I was at a complete stop when I took this picture. 

I can tell when I'm getting close to the campground when I can see the Blue Mesa lake. 

Tomorrow is moving day and it will be a short tow of 50 miles to Montrose, Colorado. Montrose is actually closer to the National Park than my current campground but I planned to stop there as a backup campground to make sure I was able to visit the park. I'm not sure if I will re-visit the park or go see another place I learned of today. Time will tell.

A rain storm is blowing in with thunder, rain and dropping temperatures. I like these kind of storms. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 


  1. You are encountering the situation I have and many others have, after 11 years of heavy travel and sightseeing. Some of the "great sights" look a lot like a bunch of the others. For instance I have seen the Grand Canyon from both sides twice each. The last time my pause there was for about 10 minutes total including the restroom stop. When I look at Google Maps to see a place, I usually think " yep it looks like so and so." Anyway great report again and thank you.

    1. Maybe that is it Barney. I'm still thinking it over.

  2. Since going full time I tend to look at things a little differently. I've seen a lot of the "sights" myself, often multiple times back when I was a "sightseer" but as a full timer I don't look at them as "sights" anymore, I look at them as possible boondocking locations and their viability as a place to spend a couple of weeks. My theory being, I've got to be someplace, why not someplace scenic?

    This philosophy fits right in with my photography hobby where I've found that scenic places can often change dramatically with the weather but if I don't stick around for a while I might never get to see that first light snowfall at the Grand Canyon, or ominous clouds rolling in over the Yellowstone River. So for me I look forward to going back to the places I've been because I never know what the weather will bring especially at a different time of year.


    1. Hello Tom, I'm not looking for boondocking sights, I know that for sure, but I am looking for something "new".

    2. Yeah Darrell I know you're not into boondocking, I guess what I was trying to say is when you've been full timing and traveling as long as you and Barney have it gets harder and harder to find a place or a view that's new. And even though I've only been full timing going on my fifth year now, I've been an RVer for over 30 years and have been to a lot of places myself.

      My solution to that "new view" problem is to try and see old places with a new perspective such as a different time of year, under different weather conditions or being there for a different reason, hence my boondocking references, or even just to get a better picture than I took the last time I was there.

      To me enjoying where I'm at is more in my mind than my actual location, it's a simple thing, but then so is my mind.


    3. I understand Tom. An example of what you're saying is my two visits to Rocky Mountain National Park. One during a light snow storm and everything covered in snow and the second visit in a non-winter month (I would have to look it up to know which month). I'm looking for something new but I'm not sure about doubling back on places. We will see,,,, I'll figure it out,,,,eventually. :)

  3. The view where you had your lunch was gorgeous. Think back on it as a perfect weather day while waiting for a stormier one.

    1. Well said, Barb. Still waiting for your blog update.