Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Return to the Black Canyon

Twenty years ago we bought our first 5th wheel trailer. The dealer gave us a voucher for a free stay at Blue Mesa Ranch for a shake-down cruise. John's sister Kendal, husband John and their grandson Brian were camping nearby that August and we all took a boat tour through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument. It was a beautiful tour. In 1999 the area became a national park and we needed to come back and visit this park (and get our NPS book stamped). This time we viewed the stunning Gunnison River Gorge from the south rim.

The gorge was named the Black Canyon because it is so deep and so narrow the sun rarely reaches the canyon floor.  See how dark the canyon is in these photos.

You can see the Gunnison River in this photo.  The video at the Visitor Center reported that the river lowers the bottom of the canyon one inch in 100 years--1 hair-breadth a year.  Think how long it to the water to cut these impressive cliffs and pinnacles.

When we came to the first viewpoint, we saw this young couple cooking breakfast. I commented they found a great place to prepare the meal. The man replied, "Breakfast with a view."

For many years farmers in the Montrose area looking with longing at the water in the Gunnison River, hoping to find a way to bring it to their valley to water the fields. In 1901 two men floated 33 miles through the canyon on a rubber mattress and reported a diversion tunnel was feasible. Construction on the 5.8 mile tunnel began in 1905 and was dedicated in 1909. Just look at the lush fields in the Montrose valley today.

After our great visit to the Black Canyon, friends contacted us on Facebook, saying they, too, were camped at Ridgway State Park. Dick and Nina, who we first met in Grand County where John served his first churches as priest, came to our site for wine and snacks. It was good to see them.

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