Black Canyon, CO

The first view of the canyon on the North Vista Trail!

Be aware, there are two different visitor centers at Black Canyon National Park. The ranger station at the North Rim, and the main gift shop/info center at the South Rim.

I took the North Vista trail (from the North Rim), about 7 miles round trip. On my way through a thicket full of wildflowers, I remembered that there were probably bears out there (an eventuality I was dreading a bit), but the only thing I heard was a dog suddenly barking (which of course scared the shit out of my twitchy imagination).

There were so many wildflowers out there on the path out to the canyon.
Getting closer to Exclamation Point.

Black Canyon was unbelievable. The sheer steepness of its painted walls, the finger of the Gunnison River down there at the bottom. From the overlook, all you can hear is the faint roar, and the rush of the wind pushing you back from the edge. Exclamation Point (the actual name of the overlook. Ha.) was my favorite place to sit and simply stare out at the canyon, although a bit precarious if you are at all afraid of heights.

Exclamation Point. I sat on a rock at the edge for quite a long time.

The trek up to the trail’s summit was beautiful too for more and differentiated views of the canyon, but I wasn’t sure if it was worth it. Even the South Rim visitor center (which I drove out to to get a silly keychain) had a spectacular and easy to get to view of Gunnison Point.

A more elevated view of the canyon’s sheer size and sculpting.
The view from the top of Green Mountain, at the turnaround for the North Vista Trail.
The steps back out of the very slight grade of the canyon trail.

On my way out, a slight sprinkle of rain gave way to a couple incredibly lucky rainbows, one in the center of the canyon, and a double out across these green and rolling hills I found on the way back to my campsite.

The rainbow, very faint in the middle there. So incredibly lucky.

I was in a terribly good mood at getting to see these until I had to screech to a halt on the road to avoid hitting a mama and baby deer that ducked out of the bushes on the side of the road. I cussed at them as they ran back into the brush, and had to rearrange all of my shit in the back of my car thrust forward by the sudden stop from 70 mph.

And this is the absolutely gorgeous view I had after screeching to a halt for that deer. I wasn’t even angry anymore. I thought I was going to meet some kind of leprechaun.

It got dark quickly after leaving the park a little too late. I had a distinctly not fun drive to my lake campsite. A bug-smeared windshield, full moon glaring cold over cascading black mountains, deer looming on the sides of the winding road unseen. An ordeal trying to find my campsite in the pitch black on the sketchy road. But I suppose the hot food under the bright moon and drifting clouds made up for all the hassle.

Unrelated to Black Canyon itself, this is the amazing campsite I stayed at this night in Colorado (O’Haver Lake Campground). I will never be able to believe the deep sapphire of the water.

2 thoughts on “Black Canyon, CO

    1. Thank you! It is really one of the more dramatic parks. I would have loved camping down there, but I only had enough time for a day hike. Glad to hear you’ll stick around! I’ll be going up through South Dakota, Montana, and Washington, then winding back down through California.

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