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The Black Canyon

After many happy nights in the San Luis Valley, we were a little undecided as to where to go next. So many options. Finally, I picked a route in the Atlas that had the little dots along the way – indicating a scenic route (though perhaps half the roads in CO are designated scenic as it’s a pretty scenic type of place). Roads always looks so innocuous on the map – since it’s flat.

This was highway 92 from Gunnison to Crawford. I regretted the second cup of coffee that morning as it was one of the more nerve-wracking, white-knuckle roads I’ve driven on this trip, much less towed a trailer over. I laugh to imagine the highway bill that went through Congress back in the 1950s when none of the legislators present had even seen a picture of this country, but the august Senator from the great state of Colorado stated on the Senate floor “We need this road. It will cost the taxpayers $50 million dollars per mile to build, but if we don’t build it, over a dozen ranchers will have to drive all the way round to Montrose to get to Gunnison, a distance of 60 extra miles.” And thus, it was done.

Lori, who is not big on heights, gritted her teeth and clenched her sphincter for 45 miles as I threaded the turns above the treacherous canyon. The irony was that the main reason I chose this particular route was that it led to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

This is a national park, but you would hardly know it as few people have ever heard of it much less been there. So after surviving Highway 92 and getting Stanley safely parked, we immediately got back in the truck and drove the 15 miles of dirt roads to the seldom visited north rim of the canyon. The Black Canyon is aptly named. It may be the deepest, narrowest canyon in the world. It’s more crevasse than canyon. At the highest point, it’s 2700 feet from rim to river, and yet you look across and swear you could hit the other side with a well-struck Callaway driver. There is something uniquely disorienting about that perspective. I’m normally okay with heights, but it honestly gave me the willies. We drove the rim road, then did a hike to Exclamation Point. By the end of the day, both of our nerves were shot.

We’re actually looking forward to Kansas.


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