From Silverton we drove over Black Bear Pass, past the Red Mountain mine, through Ouray, another historic town which is lovely but more touristy than Silverton, and on to Black Canyon of the Gunnison (river) National Park. We are now in bear country and you have to pack away all of your food if you are going ‘more than an arm’s length away’ from it. We didn’t see a bear but were startled by a young mule deer running right through our camp.
The next morning we got up early and walked down to Oak Flat for a quiet view of the canyon before it got too hot. It was great to be able to sit quietly for as long as we wanted and soak up the granduer. While it is not as deep as Grand Canyon, Black Canyon is a spectacular combination of depth, narrowness and sheerness and it is a magical place.
Another great stop (though somewhat busier) on the scenic drive was Painted Wall, which at 700m is the highest cliff in Colorado. We next walked to Warner Point (v. hot) which is above the canyon’s deepest point of 844 metres.
There was quite a bit of birdlife here and we had a great view of a peregrine falcon (they look slightly larger than ours) and also a hummingbird.
From Black Canyon we drove over Douglas Pass and we saw our first black bear – nice and safely from the comfort of our car. It crossed the road in front of us and paused to look at us as we oggled it. They can move uphill really fast and are big!
After descending from Douglas Pass we were back in what looked like desert to us and went past various types of mining activity before we got to Colorado National Monument – which is a scenic drive (with overlooks and short hikes) through more spectacular rock country with areas of Utah Juniper trees, which are small but over 500 years old. Once again it was hot, hot, hot so we didn’t do too much walking. We had dinner once the sun went down and things got a little cooler.
Lots of eroded landscape! Next stop dinosaurland….