Unless you’re a rock climber, you might not have heard of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River National Park. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is named that because the steepness of the canyon walls make it impossible for sunlight to penetrate for very long each day and the canyon is usually dark, or black. The Gunnison River runs through the canyon, dropping on average 34 feet per mile. Whereas the Colorado River drops only 7.5 feet per mile in the Grand Canyon. This place was amazing!
We parked inside the South Rim and rode our bikes out to the end of East Portal Road to Crystal Dam where the road ends. Holy smokes, the road descends STEEPLY through a series of hairpin turns in a death defying plunge to the river. The craggy rock cliffs jutting up from the river are quite dramatic. Of course, going back up that road was tough. In fact, I was in my easiest gear for a lot of the climb. The pitch is an agonizing 16%!
Next we rode out the South Rim Road to visit some of the other overlooks. My favorites were Chasm View and Painted Wall View. At 2300′ Painted Wall is the highest cliff in Colorado. If the Empire State Building stood on the canyon floor it would reach slightly more than halfway up the cliff!!!
Our total ride was 26 miles with 3500′ of climbing. We earned our dinner.