Box Canyon at Ouray.. a hidden small gem and the incredible BLack Canyon of the Gunnison (watch out Grand Canyon - you have competition)
15.09.2007 - 15.09.2007 -17 °C
We were headed through the San Juan Mountains (destination Durango .. what an evocative name). The autumn leaves were obvious even in the car park of the post office as we set out from Cedaredge .. not sure what the tree was but the yellow leaves against the white trunk was subtle and pleasing to the eye,
First major stop was at Ouray Colorado, “the Switzerland of the America”.Just off the main highway, Box Canyon Falls is a small (by Colorado) gem. Nothing in the small car park and entrance building prepares you for the dramatic view ahead. As you walk toward the falls you can hear the sound of crashing water. There is a sturdy steel walkway which takes you around a corner and right into the canyon. It is about three flights down to the river (slightly dizzy making as the steel grid is open mesh) .. look ahead ; don’t look down is my advice. The river drops within the jagged rocks so there is only a relatively short bit that looks like a traditional waterfall, but this is really a fascinating sight. Twisted steel and the occasional steel cable hint at the history of industrial works on this site.
Our next stop was arguably the highlight of my trip:
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National park
The park is centred on the most scenic 14 miles of the 50 milers of this deep canyon. Apparently is called black because the sun penetrates the walls of the canyon so briefly that much of it is in shadow ; the native Americans considered it a haunted place ; I can see why ; it is truly awe inspiring. We were so high(2600 feet at one point) that I found it almost impossible to see people kayaking on the Gunnison River below .. they were simply specks on the white foam of the rapids. The here are interesting short trails and viewpoints perched out over the canyon .. exciting stuff. I concur with The National Park Service website which says:
No other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths offered by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
Perhaps it is not a good thing to analyse an experience too much, but three things occur to me ;
• Nothing in the approach through beautiful high country prepares you for the surprise of this dramatic scenery
• The relatively short distance between rims of the canyon add to the effect.
• The schist stone of the canyon seems has lovely veins in it and the whole aesthetic is far different from the sedimentary layered rock on the canyons of Colorado National Monument (for example).