After moseying around the backroads of 133 and 92, we arrived at the North Rim of the Black Canyon. We were concerned about our late arrival (4:30PM) and the warnings from the National Park Service that sometimes the 13 campsites filled up on busy weekends. The South Rim, with its RV hookups, had 88 sites and almost never filled up. But we were going for solitude, and the whirring hummm of a generator does not provide as such.

The road in is visually unstimulating except to the connoiseurs of the earth palette: sage green, pine green, stormy white, and National Park Blue:

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The Black Canyon’s website promised us shaded from pinons and junipers, a vault toilet, water, and grills. The North Rim, which does not in any way shape or form connect to the South Rim, lies about 11 miles southwest of Crawford. The last six miles in are on a graded dirt road that was fairly well maintained.

When we arrived at the North Rim campground, there was one other couple there, playing catch. We set up camp and headed over to the Chasm View Trail, a lolling third of a miles jaunt replete with an interpretive brochure. The brochure has twelve markers, each describing a particular piece of the canyon’s tabletop: pinyon pine, juniper (sound familiar?).

Marker number five is special. The brochure says “Wow!” and the marker leads you to a concrete and chain-link fence overlook into the canyon, over 1700 feet below. You can hear the Gunnison River rushing down, at a rate of about 43 feet per second. I clenched the fence and in my amazing voice said, “Wow.” Kinda serene like.

The light wasn’t right for pictures, but it was perfect for marveling. We took some photos anyway.

Marker #4 - Juniper Tree

Marker #4 - Juniper Tree

The NPS’s interpretive brochure tells you that juniper trees cut off nutrition to their dead bits so the rest of the tree can survive. The human equivalent would be frostbite. We dallied around the juniper section for a bit, trying to catch the trees in action.

Like a snake, the juniper tree sheds its skin

Like a snake, the juniper tree sheds its skin

This tree marks #5.

Pre-wow.

Pre-wow.

Then, 1700 feet down, WOW!

The Gunnison River rushes along the canyon floor.

The Gunnison River rushes along the canyon floor.

Wow.

Marbled rock of the grandest scale

Marbled rock of the grandest scale

Lightplay in the canyon

Lightplay in the canyon

The next post will feature the hike out to Inspiration Point.

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