Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Colorado September 9-13, 2009. Curecanti NRA, Black Canyon and Taylor Park Reservoir

A side-bar before we continue our travelogue.

At times Sharon & I have an impediment keeping us from getting up from our recliners to get or do something. It is known as “C-O-L”. Sometimes C-O-L is Computer-On-Lap, other times it is Cat-On-Lap.

In this case Sharon has Cats-On-Lap & Computer-On-Lap, a double C-O-L!!

After a nice stay at Mesa Verde NP, we left for Curecanti National Recreation Area (NRA).

There are two routes to and from Mesa Verde NP from the Grand Junction, Montrose & Gunnison area. One is Hwy 550, we took going through Silverton and the other is Hwy 145, going through Telluride. We took the route though Telluride coming back. It is a much easier drive. Only one pass, Lizard Head Pass, to go over. No tight switch backs or steep grades this way. Although the route though Telluride looks longer on the map, there is only about 3 miles difference in the two routes.

At Curecanti NRA we stayed at Elk Creek Campground, about 15 miles west of Gunnison.

A brief description of Curecanti NRA, taken from their website:

Curecanti is made up of three reservoirs, named for corresponding dams on the Gunnison River. Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado's largest body of water, and is the largest Kokanee Salmon fishery in the U.S.. Morrow Point Reservoir is the beginning of the Black Canyon, and below, East Portal is the site of the Gunnison Diversion Tunnel - a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

This is a picture of Morrow Point Reservoir. The canyon walls of this reservoir are the start of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Credit: NPS/Lisa Lynch

A few pictures of the lake & camping area at Elk Creek CG

Our campsite & lake

View from our front window

A morning view

And an evening view

And there is always the ever present chipmunk or squirrel

While staying at Elk Creek CG, we took a day trip to the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (BCGNP)

“No other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths offered by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison”. The walls of the canyon typically drop about 2000 feet straight down to the river.

Similar to the Grand Canyon, there are north & south rim areas of the national park and it takes quite a bit of driving to go from one side to the other. We visited the south rim some years ago.

It is a beautiful drive, following Hwy 92, as it winds and twists following the north side of the canyon.

A typical view from the road

3D Map of the canyon

A few pictures of the canyon, all taken from overlooks

A general view of the canyon

Sharon looking down into the canyon

What she was looking at

Another view looking down into the canyon

A completely vertical wall about 400 feet high without a visible ledge.

Interesting banding on the canyon wall

Another view looking down the canyon

From Curecanti, we moved into Gunnison National Forest to Lakeview NF campground.

Our campsite overlooking Taylor Reservoir

A panoramic view of the reservoir and mountains from the campground

Looking back at the reservoir from a near Cottonwood pass

A closer look and you can see the Lakeview CG on the hillside on the far left of the picture

That’s all for now. Next up will be general views in and around Gunnison NF.

Al & Sharon

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