The first place that we went on our trip was to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Last Tuesday (Pioneer Day) I worked for 5 hours and then we drove from Salt Lake City to Montrose, Colorado. The drive was pretty uneventful. Because of the holiday, there were a ton of cars coming back to the city and very few going the way that we were. It was nice to drive on roads that were very uncrowded.
Wednesday morning we made our journey to the National Park. I had heard about Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park a few years ago. I knew that it was one of those "hidden gems" that few people actually visit. It's not a huge place but the views (as you can see from the slide show below - all photos taken by us, if you'd like a copy then let me know) were fantastic. The canyon is anywhere from 2000-2700 feet deep and the walls are very steep. We stopped at a bunch of canyon overlooks and Alison and I alternated looking at the views while Ada slept (This worked really well for us and we ended up doing this in almost all of the places that we went).
At the end of the canyon is a 2800 yard hike that we went on, where we took the picture shown at the beginning of this post. Ada is always pretty good when she is in the backpack and this hike was no exception. We were hoping to see some bighorn sheep (a couple of bears were spotted the day before near the visitor's center, but we would rather see them while we are in the car) but we only saw a few birds. Before leaving the park we took a 6 mile, 15% grade road down to the bottom of the canyon where we had views upwards of the canyon.
After visiting Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, we made the drive from Montrose, CO to Durango, CO. This drive crosses a couple of 11,000 foot mountain passes and it was just beautiful. We ate dinner at a mediocre Italian restaurant (Al had pizza, I had enchiladas...) on Main Street in Durango before driving the last 45 minutes to Cortez, CO where we stayed for 2 more nights.