Posts Tagged ‘National Park’

Driving from Grand Junction to Colorado Springs, CO

7 June 2010

We left Grand Junction at about 1130 this morning, headed ESE on US 50. We planned on driving through Montrose, and to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

As we headed out, we were treated to this nice thunderstorm in profile, to the north.

We drove up the Gunnison River; we didn’t see it after we left Grand Junction until we crossed it in Delta. We could see the large canyon off to our south as we drove towards Delta.

The mountains were drawing nearer as we went east.

We drove through Montrose. We made a tactical error here, and should have had lunch. Since we didn’t, we ended up backtracking to Montrose, and loosing almost an hour of travel time.

We drove on to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We thought we would be there about an hour, we spent almost three! It was a great park, had a nice hike, and some stunning views. I highly recommend a visit here if you are in the central Colorado area.

This is a series from the first overlook.

The Gunnison River is visible far below, followed by a close-up.

We went to the Visitor Center. There is a very nice overlook there.

This is a shot across the canyon to the north rim. The north rim is accessible from Delta on a Colorado tertiary road. The last six miles of that road is gravel.

This is R2 and the kids at the Visitor Center.

There were some thunderstorms going up as well.

These are the mountains through which run I-70. There are a bunch of ski resorts there, like Vail and Beaver Creek.

This is from one of the other overlooks, to the west and the mouth of Black Canyon.

The cliff across the way is the tallest cliff in Colorado. It’s 3000+ft tall. I really liked the veining of minerals in it. The view down the canyon to the river was stunning also.

There was some additional veining a little farther east.

This was a nice cactus in bloom.

I saw some movement across on the north rim. Here is the rim, then I zoomed in and saw the people making the movement…

Looking east, there is a big notch between the north and south rims. I saw this from the air a couple months ago.

This lizard was trying to stay away from the people who were around.

We went for a nice hike while we were there, it’s a separate blog post.

After dinner in Montrose (see blog post), we headed out on US 50 again. The drive along the canyon to the north of us was stunning often.

Soon, we skirted the beautiful Blue Mesa Lake.

After the lake, we made it to Gunnison. I had expected Gunnison, being a ski town, to have a mountain nearby. None to speak of. A sign for Crested Butte ski area pointed north out of town, and Erin said she saw another pointing to the south, but no mountains there. Hmmm, a topic for research in the next couple days…

We drove on, and soon got up into more mountains. Real mountains, with huge pine trees. We went up and down Monarch Mountain, seeing a scenic chair lift, and eventually the Monarch ski area. We got our high point of the trip here, at 11,300 ft. Down from Monarch is a huge mining operation, looks like gravel. More research.

Soon after, we got into the Arkansas River valley, and followed the river up to US 24. US 24 goes up into a small (relatively speaking) set of mountains, and dumps out in a huge, 40-mile wide valley. There were tremendous thunderstorms to the north, northeast, and south. On the other (east) side, we got up into more mountains, and eventually made it into Colorado Springs about 2100.

We saw an opposite-horizon optical effect. I will have to research to find the name of the effect. That’s Pike’s Peak that the effect is over.

To close out the day, a spectacular sunset in back of us.

We saw deer, an elk, a bunch of pronghorn, and the usual sheep, cows, and horses along the way. There were a couple groups of burros, and mules as well.

This was a classic Colorado drive. The mountains were spectacular, and were not of the “desert” variety we saw in Arizona and Utah (which are also spectacular, in a different way).

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