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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park lies in western Colorado near the town of Montrose. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison's spectacular landscape combines narrow openings, sheer walls, and startling depths. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison was recently upgraded to national park status.
This Park has one of the steepest and most rugged of canyons, which is formed by the Gunnison River as it flows through the western edge of the Rocky Mountains. The canyon walls are covered with volcanic ash, and the gorge reaches depths of over 2,000 feet. Sunlight illuminates the walls only for a short while, hence the name 'Black Canyon'. It is unsettling, almost frightening to stand at the edge of one of the canyon overlooks.
Backcountry camping requires a permit. Whenever you're headed for anywhere at all isolated, be sure to inform a ranger of your plans, and ask about weather and specific local tips. Backpackers should not drink from rivers and streams. Hiking at lower elevations should prevent few problems, though the swarms of mosquitoes that you may encounter near water can be a serious headache.
The East Portal Road runs close to the river upstream to the East Portal Dam, which marks the boundary between the national park and the Curecanti National Recreation Area. However, all the canyon overlooks are found along the main entrance road. The road passes about 12 viewpoints, some of which require a short walk to see the canyon.