Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

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July 18th 2021
Published: July 19th 2021
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Andrew's parents met us in Montrose this morning to drop off the kids, and they continued on to their home in Montana. We planned a night here so the kids could get a break from long trips on the road. Montrose isn't the nicest town, from what I can see. We're staying at the KOA here, which is very nice, but it's in the middle of a fairly sketchy area. We drove by some empty lots and storage units before our final turn. Usually when we stay at KOAs, we're just outside of town. So, being in town was a bit of a surprise! We're still enjoying our stay, though. Our lodging is spacious, comfortable, and clean. We've spent our time swimming and checking out Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

It's very hot and dry here. It's been about 100 degrees, and we're high up with no cloud cover. I learned my lesson from Arches where it was way too hot to do anything, so we decided to wait until close to sundown to head to this national park. Andrew was kind (as always) and got us our cancelation stamps at 4pm before the visitor's center closed, and
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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
then we headed to the park as a family around 7pm. It was still over 90 degrees, unfortunately, but at least the sun was low in the sky. That helped!

While it's a lovely place, Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a very small national park. In terms of size, it's currently ranked 55 out of 62 national parks. The parks that are smaller than it include places like the Virgin Islands, the Gateway Monument, and the Indiana Dunes. For the most part, the park consists of the canyon. The canyon is cool to see, and its sides (walls?) are unusually steep. We learned this is especially true on one side of the canyon, as the sun beats down on the side that faces south. That keeps the snow melted, so there's slower erosion and a sloped side. However, the other side almost appears straight up and down!

We spent some time at the park, but there aren't really many good hikes. Most of the trails are quite short (1/10 of a mile to 1/4 of a mile), and they lead to different view points of the canyon. We did three of these overviews and felt like we got a solid impression of the park.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a beautiful place to stop by for a few hours and see. However, it's not really a destination park (if that makes sense). I'm glad we saw it, but it won't be a place I set out to go back to. I'm sure we'll stop again if we pass through the area!

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