I’ve got a pile of excuses as to why I didn’t get out camping sooner than this past weekend. Maybe they sound familiar: too busy, bad weather, no one to go with, too crowded, not physically up for it, yada, yada, yada.

Well, the spectre of not camping and not getting outdoors has been haunting me since the spring equinox. Memories of my very successful solo trip to Moab last Thanksgiving had me wistful for sleeping, eating, and breathing the great outdoors.

Last weekend was the last weekend of free admission to select National Parks in this great nation of ours. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a mere four hours from my house, beckoned me with its thousand-foot high canyon walls and unspoiled views of some of the oldest exposed rock on Earth – 2 billion years old!

The Black Canyon is a climbers’ paradise, a sport I am not currently interested in taking up. My next sport will be scuba diving.

I digress. Colorado boasts two other major National Parks – Rocky Mountain National Park and the Great Sand Dunes. I have spent considerable time down at the Sand Dunes, both hiking and sandboarding, and have flitted in and out of RMNP a few times. But with the Black Canyon I was looking for an escape – a place without crowds and with beauty.

I found it. Check back this week for photos and commentary on a magical, overlooked place.