Montrose is the gateway to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.“Most rivers of the Southwest cut through relatively soft sedimentary rock, forming canyons that tend to be quite wide, colorful and stepped – descending in a series of cliffs and ledges through layers of differing hardness. When rivers flow across harder igneous rock they produce steeper gorges, spectacular in different ways, such as Hell’s Canyon in Idaho, the deepest in the US, or the multicolored Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in Wyoming.
One of the steepest, darkest and most rugged of such canyons is formed by the Gunnison River as it flows through hard ancient rocks at the western edge of the Rocky Mountains, on its way to joining the Colorado river at Grand Junction. The canyon walls are composed of volcanic schist, predominantly black in color, and as the gorge reaches depths of over 2,000 feet while often being only 1,500 feet across, sunlight illuminates the walls only briefly, hence the name ‘Black Canyon’. It is unsettling, almost frightening to stand at the very edge of one of the canyon overlooks, such is the menace and sheerness of the jagged rocks below.”
After touring the rim road we found that the east portal road will take us down to the bottom of the canyon and to the river.
As is apparently the case in Colorado we have another interesting road. The special feature of this road is 16% grades. Very very steep and fun.