This week the National Park Getaway delves deep into west-central Colorado to explore one of the nation’s steepest, darkest and most rugged canyons and its surrounding plateau.

Between Gunnison and Montrose, Colo., Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park protects a narrow, deep gorge carved by the Gunnison River, with sheer cliffs rising to heights over 2,000 feet. No other canyon in North America combines such a narrow opening, sheer walls and startling depths.

Evidence suggests use of the canyon rims by pre-historic peoples and the Utes consider it part of their homeland. Members of the 1873-74 Hayden expedition, the first white men to see the great chasm, pronounced the Black Canyon inaccessible.

These days, outdoor enthusiasts picnic on the rim, camp along the plateau, and marvel at epic views and the abundance of plants and wildlife. The narrow, nearly vertical walls of the inner canyon draw hikers and expert climbers. The Gunnison River’s Gold Medal waters entice anglers to the canyon bottom for unparalleled fly-fishing experiences, particularly during the annual stonefly hatch.

Impressive from top to bottom, the Black Canyon is hidden treasure. Read this week’s National Park Getaway article at www.nps.gov/getaways for an initial impression of this fantastic canyon landscape.

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