Open Road Review USA Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

The Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park is considered one of the majestic places in Colorado. This park is located west of Colorado. The Canyon is under the management of National Park Service. The park possesses two entrances, the Montrose on the South Rim and the Crawford of North Colorado. The park holds about 12 miles of the Canyon and is considered the most in-depth section.  The Black Canyon of the Gunnison goes upstream to the Curecanti National Recreation Area. Downstream the Canyon flows into the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. The Canyon is known as the Gunnison Gorge due to the reason that parts of the gorge receive a less than an hour exposure to the sun every day.

The Black Canyon Together with the Gunnison River

The river flows into the canyon at 34 feet per mile. Such a characteristic makes the Black Canyon the steepest of all mountains in N. America. On the other side, the Colorado Rivers drops at 7.5 feet per mile to the Grand Canyon. The name Black Canyon is a result of the fact that the canyon is quite steep and therefore preventing the rays of the sun from reaching the broad surfaces of the Canyon. Such a feature mean the canyon is shadowed making the rocky walls to appear dark.

What causes the steepness of the Black Canyon

The steep walls and the broad surfaces of the Black Canyon are due to the geological processes that work together. The flow of the Gunnison River is responsible for the erosion and perfect carvings of the Black Canyon.

Stages of Black Canyon Development

The development of the Black Canyon of Gunnison started about 1.7 million years ago. During this stage, there was the formation of the Precambrian gneiss and schist that make up for the walls of the Canyon. This was because of the metamorphic period that caused the collision of volcanic arcs, what makes today’s Wyoming.

In the Laramide orogeny, between 40 and seventy years million ago, known as the Cretaceous, there was a Gunnison Uplift. This process resulted in the raising of agents gneiss and schist that create canyon walls. 25 to 35 million years ago, there were occurrences of volcanism. The La Sal Mountains, the Henry Mountains, the West Elk Mountains buried the Canyon in ash and debris.

This led to the Quaternary stage, which took part two to three million years ago. In this time, the river cut through the volcanic deposits. Finally, the river reached the rocks of Precambrian that were a result of the uplift. The river unable to change course started to eat up the metamorphic rocks. This went on for a hundred years as it consumed the walls of the canyon at 25mm every 100 years. This slight change was due to the turbidity of the rocks, and therefore the brief carvings are because of river dropping form a steep area of origin as seen in the modern day.

There were feeder canyons that flowed into the slopes.  The canyons flow in the wrong direction, i.e., upwards due to the tilt in terrain. The Gunnison River, however, did not change its course and continued to flow correctly.

History of existence

Ute Indians always knew that the Canyon existed. The termed the river as big water and much rocks. They also formed superstitious beliefs about the feature and avoided the function do the same superstitions. At the time the US was gaining independence, two expeditions by Espanas had already taken place. They, however, did not divulge details of the canyon until John Williams Gunnison leading a trip from Saint Louis and San Francisco gave an account of the Black Canyon. In the hands of Ute Indians, Gunnison died leading to the river he named being renamed to honor him.

Creation of the park

In March 1933, the Black Canyon of Gunnison was termed a national monument and later in 1999 the becoming a national park. Between years 1933 and 1955, the National Park Service was coined among other overlooks and listed a historic district.


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