As usual, I used my final drive back to Texas from Truckee to visit National Parks--continuing my quest to see every National Park in the US. Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Mesa Verde were #s 31 and #32. But I'm a moron and I lost my camera battery charger. So I had to use my cell phone for the photos--so the quality is not great.
Black Canyon is named because of its steapness--which makes it difficult for sunlight to penetrate. As a result, the canyon walls are most often in shadow, causing the rocky walls to appear black.
It was pretty cool to hear the river roaring from way down into the canyon (picture). And I took a short 2 mile hike just below the rim. Kind of one of those "Hey look a big hole in the ground" National Parks, but I also didn't get to stay long. Edward Abbey would have been dissapointed in me for sure. Woulda been cool to go all the way down--but I think you need a permit and it would take 10 hours down and back.
The Gunnison River drops an average of 43 feet per mile through the entire canyon, making it one of the steepest mountain descents in North America. In comparison, the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon drops an average of 7.5 feet per mile.
Next stop was Mesa Verde NP which features numerous ruins of homes and villages built by the ancient Pueblo people known as the Anasazi in the 1200s AD. It is best known for several cliff dwellings — structures built within caves and under outcroppings in cliffs — including Cliff Palace, which is thought to be the largest cliff dwelling in North America. Took a tour and learned a bit about the people who lived there. Pretty amazing stuff!