Black Canyon of the GunnisonBlack Canyon of the GunnisonBlack Canyon of the Gunnison

Views for near the Welcome Center as that is all the further we were allowed to go.
After leaving Utah I headed toward Colorado where I had originally planned to spend to spend 3-5 days, however it turned out to be only two days. Once again I got there just in time for a snow storm. My original goals were to spend a day at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and then to spend a couple of days hiking, camping and driving the area with several 14,000 foot mountains and end with a day or two in the Eleven Mile Canyon near Colorado Springs. Each of these places has great memories from a cross country road trip with my brother over 15 years ago. All places I wanted to go back to and spend more time.

So, I made it to each of these places but all were significantly limited in scope due to the snow. I was not allowed to go beyond the welcome center at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, but I did go a solitary short hike with the pups in the snow. I then headed to the 14,000 footers, but ended up spending the night at a lodge at the top of a pass since I didn’t have any chains and it was getting late. It was wonderful, I was the only guest in an approximately 200 room lodge. We (pups and I) got a great deal as we were just after ski season and before the rafting season began. The next day we made it down the mountain and headed up the valley that runs to the east of several 14,000 footers. It was snowing just enough to be overcast so that I could not even tell there were mountains. I stopped by the National Mining Museum in Leadville, Colorado. I obviously have some opinions about mining coming from Appalachia where the current form of mining is mountain top removal which has devastating impacts on the environment. I also had just finished listening to a book on the Cripple Creek Labor Wars, so I was not naive enough to think that mining had no controversial issues in the west. However, according to the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, mining was a great and wonderful thing for everyone involved. Luckily I was probably the only visitor for the day, so I had an opportunity to have a long discussion with the staff in the museum of the aspects I thought were lacking for a comprehensive view of mining, I am sure they loved me.

I ended the daylight with a couple of short hikes in the Eleven Mile Canyon near Colorado Springs. This is a beautiful place, where Craig and I camped 15 years ago. I didn’t camp because it was supposed to get to below freezing that night and I thought I should start the long drive home. I had decided to surprise my mother with a Mother’s Day dinner a week early and the surprise of my arrival three days early. I drove 15 hours that last day on the road before reaching my brother’s home around 10 pm.

It was a great road trip, very different than I thought. The trip was more about spending time with family and friends than time alone in National Parks. The weather also played a big factor as it was often too cold or snowing and overcast to take advantage of camping, hiking in the mountains. Then there were times when it was too hot to leave the dogs in the car in National Parks where dogs are no longer allowed. Different than expected, but overall good.

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