Pegmatites and Pygmies
After leaving Ouray we followed the valley and the US50, leaving the Million Dollar Highway behind us, and trying to decide between Arches National Park (now at 105 F), and more mountains! We hedged our bets a little, and headed into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Where, you say? That's what we thought - but this place must be one of America's best kept secrets. When we arrived we parked up in the National Park campground, and I finished repairing the bikes. We cycled off down the road to find the edge of this
'canyon', without any preconceptions, and with almost as little expectation.
Wow, just wow
The place is simply stunning. In many dimensions the Black Canyon of the Gunnison rivals the valleys of Grand Canyon or Yellowstone. A beautiful place. When we first cycled up to a look-out point we found down the road, we just swallowed, and wowed for a few minutes. The difference with the GC is that you can actually see the sides and the bottom, which helps to deliver this overwhelming sense of size!
The river is 2700 feet down!
We joined a tour from one of the Rangers, which meant a cliff-edge walk that Sarah succeeded in completing, despite some hesitation about the precipitous edges! Interesting as well as beautiful. One of the unusual features of the Black Canyon is the pegmatite (igneous intrusions into the softer sedimentary and metamorphic rock) formations out into the canyon, allowing you to walk 200 yards out above the abyss, and get the best views and photos.
Not quite sure why now - I think I wanted to find somewhere to get to the valley floor and the river - but we left the next day, heading East down the valley.