Black Canyon of the Gunnison River
Several canyons of the American West are longer and some are deeper, but none combines the depth, sheerness, narrowness, darkness, and dread of the Black Canyon.
[Vandenbusche, Duane (2009). Images of America - The Black Canyon of the Gunnison.]
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (1999) contains 12 miles (19 km) of the 48-mile (77 km) long canyon of the Gunnison River.
The canyon is located on the eastern edge of the Colorado Plateau along US50 between Gunnison and Delta, Colorado.
Entrance to the south rim of the park is CO347 near Montrose.
The north rim is reached by a dirt road off CO92 in Crawford, Colorado.
Painted Wall on the north side of the canyon is the tallest sheer cliff in Colorado at 2,250 feet (690 m).
Similar to the Grand Canyon, the north rim is closed during winter (deep snow).
Unlike the Grand Canyon, the north rim is undevelopted, but it offers the best views into the narrowest section of the canyon.
Rugged CO92 (Google Earth) offers some views into the canyon north of the national park.
Deep, Steep and Narrow.
Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America.
With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky.
The Gunnison River drops an average of 34 feet per mile (6.4 m/km) through the entire canyon, making it the 5th steepest mountain descent in North America.
By comparison, the Colorado River drops an average of 7.5 feet per mile (1.42 m/km) through the Grand Canyon.
The greatest descent of the Gunnison River occurs within the park at Chasm View dropping 240 feet per mile (45 m/km).
The Black Canyon is so named due its steepness which makes it difficult for sunlight to penetrate into its depths.
As a result, the canyon is often shrouded in shadow, causing the rocky walls to appear black.
At its narrowest point the canyon is only 40 ft (12 m) wide at the river.
The Photo Gallery contains nine scenic views into the canyon inside the national park with an auto-show of the photos in the gallery.
Area Road Map locates the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and Curecanti National Recreation Area in the canyon south of the park, along US50 between Delta and Gunnison, and CO92 along the north rim of the canyon south of the park between Crawford and Gunnison.