Monday, June 4th
Total Mileage: ~ 200
In terms of mileage, today was a short one. But there was a lot crammed into those miles.
Our first goal was to tour The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
We left the bike at the hotel - figuring we would driving by after touring the park and would pick it up then ...for a couple of reasons: 1. Keeping additional miles off that worn-out chain was important, and 2. We hadn't yet figured out how to handle two vehicles entering the multitude of parks that were upcoming without having to pay big bucks for two passes.
First stop, which I guess should go without saying, was the entrance gate. The young lady / Ranger was very helpful. She helped us decide that the $80.00 year's pass was the cheapest way to go. I also asked her advice on what to do with the bike at future parks. The year's passes are kind of strange in what they allow; it will get a car full of people in, or two people on a motorcycle in, or two motorcycles in (assuming both drivers are the two people who are listed on the pass ...each pass has two people's names on it). There is nothing specifically spelled out regarding a car and a motorcycle.
Part of what you get for your year's pass is a sticker. The ranger suggested that I put the sticker on the bike, and dependent on how anal the future entrance rangers were, there was a good chance they would just wave me through. ...sounded good to me. Time will tell if it works.
None of us had ever been to The Black Canyon, and we didn't really know what to expect. As a matter of fact, I hadn't even heard of the place before reading Flanga briefly reporting about it in his incredible ride report, (it's awesome reading if you hadn't seen it) http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=310834
,and it was on the way to our next stop, so I worked it into our itinerary. It greatly exceeded my expectations.
After paying for the pass, one of our first stops was at the Visitor's Center to watch the short movie and to get our newly purchased National Parks Passport stamped.
I know it's cheesy, but over the next couple of weeks we became obsessive about getting it stamped. For some stupid reason, it added a new dimension to the fun.
All obsessive-compulsiveness aside, let's talk about the park. First of all, it is much larger than I had anticipated.
And second of all, it was just amazing!
Let's zoom that last shot in some...
That river is WAY down there - like about 2000'
There were a LOT of "OH WOW" moments...
The composition of the rock was cool. Below is "The Painted Wall".
Take a look at that wall and try to get a perspective on its size by noticing the full-sized trees on it, and on the land above it. A recurring problem we ran into: so many of the sights were enormous! Capturing them, along with the incredible impact that had on us, was near impossible.
Even the plant life was cool...
For some reason we really liked this tree.
We drove around the south rim and really enjoyed the place.
Up next, the Million Dollar Highway...