We arrived in Montrose, CO early enough on Friday to head directly out to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. This little known Park is the newest in the National Park system, getting its designation in 1999. The Black Canyon is so named due to its extremely steep canyon walls which make it difficult for sunlight to penetrate into its depths. This results in its rocky walls, constantly in shadows, appearing black. At the canyon’s narrowest point, the walls are separated by only 40 feet. Along with the amazing canyon with its raging Gunnison River, we were also treated to magnificent fall foliage colors. The park really needs to be seen in person as our pictures do not do it justice.
We left Montrose early Saturday morning having no idea of the gorgeous drive ahead of us. Our friend Sue Anderson had asked if we would be traveling on the Million Dollar Highway. Although Bob had vaguely remembered reading about it, we had no idea what an amazing drive this would be. The Million Dollar Highway is a section of U.S.Route 550 between Ouray and Silverton, CO. The two-lane mountainous highway travels through the San Juan Mountains. The stretch through the Uncompahgre Gorge is potentially hazardous as it has steep cliffs, narrow lanes, and a lack of guard rails. The beauty of the drive was increased by the bright yellow/gold aspen trees at the peak of their fall colors.
We stopped for a quick lunch in Durango then headed to The Blue Lake Ranch B&B in Hesperus, CO where we settled into the Sunrise Casita. Here is a view from our bedroom:
We were in Hesperus to visit the Mesa Verde National Park, home to numerous ruins and remains of cliff dwellings belonging to the Ancient Puebloan Peoples (Anasazi), who lived in the area from around year 700 to 1400. We visited a couple of sites including the ranger led tour of the Balcony House. The tour turned out to be a bit of an adventure for us as you have to climb a 3 story steep ladder to enter the site, and then squeeze through a 12 foot tunnel on all fours (18″ diameter) and climb a few more ladders and stone steps carved out of the sheer cliff. The ancients didn’t use ladders to get in and out. They used a series of toe-holds in the rock. Incredible.
Finished the tour in time to catch the end of the Raider’s game………….
Monday morning we packed the car for our trip to Moab, UT. But first we had to stop and admire our neighbor’s packed car……
We arrived in Moab early enough to visit Arches National Park and take a quick hike of Park Avenue. Apparently some early visitors felt the stone formations reminded them of the large city streets back east.
We had a great hike, a nice picnic, and then a nice drive back into town where we checked in at the Sunflower Hill B&B. We are in the Summer House room.
This morning after a wonderful breakfast, we returned to Arches for a full day of hiking and gawking. We only got out of our comfort zone on one hike, a strenuous climb to see the Double “O” Arch. We were only planning to hike to the Landscape Arch, which was amazing, but while there we saw some people climbing up one of the narrow rock formations (called fins) to the Double “O” Arch. We figured we had come this far….why not a bit further. Turned out not to be the best decision of the day as parts of this hike are on extremely high and narrow formations. One slip and off you go (into the wild blue yonder). We got about 3/4’s of the way there when Robin decided to sit down on top of a narrow fin and not move. She was……….stuck. Not too panicked, just stuck. She told me to go on and get a picture, then come back and get her off the cliff. Mission accomplished.
Once recovered, we hiked and hiked and hiked. Here are some photos from our day:
Finished our outing with dinner at Sabaku Sushi. Great Sunshine roll!
It was a really great day…breathtaking (in more ways than one). We are pretty tired…going to sleep now.