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The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is an awe-inspiring landscape that offers visitors a chance to explore, ponder and take in some of the most breathtaking wilderness views on Earth. Few other places possess such towering beauty or greater contrasts between light and dark.
15 million years ago runoff from the La Sal Mountains of Utah and the Elk & Swatch ranges of Colorado set its course though this land leaving a natural wonder like no other. For centuries the Gunnison River has carved through the soft volcanic rock forming The Black Canyon.
Known as one of the lesser visited National Parks in America (perhaps not for long!) it’s accessible from three areas, the North Rim, South Rim and East Portal where the Gunnison enters the canyon.
The North Rim is typically the least trafficked and, of course, the area that attracts me the most. With a small, primitive campground available and a mere four hour drive from home, it's an area I return to frequently.
The views are boundless and vertigo inducing. The energy and roar of the Gunnison River, ever-present. The canyon is eye-opening to photograph as the sun moves through the day with an endless dance between light and shadow.
The Painted Wall - the tallest sheer cliff in the state of Colorado at a height of 2,250 feet (690 m) - sits center-right in the photograph. The floor of the canyon at these depths receives little over 30 seconds of sunlight a day, hence the canyon’s name.
This image was made on a perfect summer morning off the Chasm View trail near the North Rim campground where the sunrise blanketed the walls of the canyon in warm, golden hour light, bringing their depth and shadow into sharp focus.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor