Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park

We stood at the rim of the canyon and looked down, trying to find the river at the bottom of the canyon. In the broad daylight the steep cliffs, and craggy spires are a deep black with crisscrossed white lines. These cliffs are made mostly of  Precambrian gneiss and schist and the lighter colored dikes are pegmatite.  This is not like the Grand Canyon where you look out and over the vastness. Here, you look down into the gorge.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison was a place I was looking forward to visiting since up until a week before I left, I had never heard of it before and it sounded fascinating. The canyon walls are so steep that there are supposedly parts of the gorge that receive only 30 minutes of sunlight a day. The walls aren’t evenly lit and it was one of the most difficult places I have ever photographed.

We knew we would be coming back in the early morning before sunrise to photograph the canyon and as we’d only have about 15 minutes to do so, we scouted out our preferred spot in the late afternoon. In doing so, we checked out every canyon lookout point, watching the sun slowly set. The later is become, the more mysterious the rocks became.

Night fell and we talked about where the milky way would most likely rise and what would be nice in the foreground. It wasn’t easy finding something suitable, but just like in Arches National Park, the area is pitch black at night and the stars are a sight to behold.

Early the next morning we stood yawning, and freezing, at the edge of the canyon while taking pictures as fast as we could of the beautiful walls which were bathed in a rose colored hue. The following pictures have not been enhanced to change the color. This is actually what we saw.

Before too long, the sun was over the ridge behind us and the pink melted away and the rocks became gray once more.

8 Replies to “Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park”

  1. We drive through the Black Canyon frequently when we are going to Salt Lake City, your photos are beautiful, you’ve caught the depth and colors/patterns on the canyon walls wonderfully. One day we were lucky enough to watch two women setting up “camp” for the night on a wall, presumably planning on sleeping in their tethered hammocks. Best left for viewing the scenery from more terra firma says I! Love the photos!

  2. Aunt Gail says: Reply

    Such ominous beauty in the deep depths of that amazing canyon. Your photographs are stunning and seeing it at different times of the day and how it takes on a completely new look of color and shape was wonderful. Just another place to add to my wish list of things in America to see.

  3. Meradeth says: Reply

    Whoa! I haven’t heard of this place but now really want to visit! What a striking feature, and the crisscrossing white lines in the stone are incredible. Thanks for sharing–totally adding this to my Must Visit list 🙂

    1. That’s exactly what happened to me! I had no idea, and then I had to go. It’s an amazing place.

  4. I really, really like these photos. You’ve captured the essence of the canyon, especially its depth. What especially caught my eye are the white veins in the canyon walls. I’ve never seen that formation before. It’s very intriguing and unusual. Great work!

    1. It’s a geat place to visit because it’s so different, but it’s hard to capture.

  5. leslie elkan says: Reply

    Thank you for sharing these wondrous photos, Juliana! They bring the magical beauty to those of us who will likely never visit in person. Awe-inspiring beauty!

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Leslie.

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