For centuries, this was a place of dread. Native peoples avoided it out of fear and superstition. Later visitors would do so as it served as a great barrier to western progress, hindering those who attempted to cross it. Many entered it never to be seen or heard from ever again. Described as deep, sheer, narrow and dark, parts of this canyon gorge receive a mere half hour of sunlight each day. Rock walls more than half a mile tall have been cut from a river that is considered calm elsewhere but fiercely forces its way through these canyonlands. Those who have attempted to conquer this land have described the experience as “harrowing,” “dreadful,” and “dangerous.” Even modern means and machines cannot subdue the might of this massive natural obstacle. This is Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
The youngest and perhaps least known of Colorado’s three national parks, Black Canyon of the Gunnison has long been seen as a natural obstacle. A national park not for the faint of heart, climbing, boating and even hiking in this park is often considered dangerous and best left to those with plenty of experience. However, this remoteness and inherent danger is what has long attracted the adventurous to the canyon and part of the reason why the area is so well preserved. As opposed to the more famous, 6-million-year-old Grand Canyon, some might consider the Black Canyon young at only around 2 million years old. The story of Black Canyon of the Gunnison is still unfolding.
While native peoples, cowboys, homesteaders, miners, emigrants, and moviemakers have all passed through Joshua Tree, much of what is known about the park’s history and the efforts to conserve it are thanks to two women, early leaders in the national park movement. Today, the park is a favorite place for musicians and artists to gain inspiration as well as for stargazers to view the uninhibited night sky. Geologists and rock climbers are both drawn to the millions-of-years-old cliffs, formations and outcroppings that make up the park’s unique scenery.
A geological wonder, Death Valley stands out from other national parks in several ways. It is the hottest national park by record as well as the driest. It also reaches the lowest point of any national park in the Lower 48. While its name conjures up images of deserts and badlands, it is also home to one of the most beautiful wildflower displays each spring and is often covered in snow throughout the winter. While the heat of the day can be unbearable, the freezing temperatures of the night can be even harder to survive. Despite the rough conditions, plants, animals and humans have still been able to survive and thrive here. Those willing to overlook its name have always found Death Valley to be one of the most awe-inspiring sites in America.
Dedicated to all things travel, places I have been and places I want to go.