Skip to main content

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 21; Colorado State Route 347, South Rim Road, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

After leaving Colorado National Monument via Monument Road and Colorado State Route 347 I made turn eastward on US Route 50 in Grand Junction.  My next destination was to the southeast at the end of Colorado State Route 347 at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.


This article serves as the 21st entry in the 2016 Summer Mountain Trip Series.  Part 20 covers Colorado National Monument and Rim Rock Drive.

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 20; Colorado National Monument and Rim Rock Drive

The south entrance of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (I'll be short handing to "Black Canyon" so it doesn't take to write from hereon in) is accessed by via the 5.2 mile long CO 347.  CO 347 begins east of Montrose and makes a fast ascent northward to the south entrance of Black Canyon near Jones Summit.  The route that ultimately became CO 347 was added to the State Highway System in 1939 but can be seen as a locally maintained road on the 1939 Rand McNally Highway Map of Colorado.


The first map that clearly shows CO 347 is the 1947 Shell Highway Map of Colorado.


Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park protects a 12 mile portion of the namesake canyon along the Gunnison River.  Black Canyon is thusly named due to the fact that it's extremely steep nature only allows an average of 33 minutes of sunlight to reach it's bottom daily.  Black Canyon is the 5th steepest mountain side descent on the North American continent.  By comparison Black Canyon is about five times steeper than the Grand Canyon.

Although Black Canyon had been known to local tribes the first American to discover it was John Williams Gunnison in 1853.  In 1881 the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad had reached Gunnison and the route west was plotted through part of Black Canyon.  The first passenger train through the eastern segment of Black Canyon arrived in August of 1882.  Ultimately surveys recommended that the railroad was unfeasible through the steepest parts of Black Canyon it was instead routed to the south.  The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad can be seen being routed around most of Black Canyon on the 1882 New Railroad and County Map of Colorado.   In 1890 a new route of the Denver & Rio Grand Railroad through Glenwood Springs was constructed and the Black Canyon route began to decline before being ultimately abandoned in the 1950s. 


In March 1933 much of Black Canyon was declared a National Monument.  The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the North Rim Road between 1933 through 1935.  The South Rim Road (which is the continuation of CO 347) appears to have been constructed around the same time.  Black Canyon was elevated to a National Park in October 1999 and currently encompasses 30,750 acres.

The South Rim Road has twelve view points beyond the terminus of CO 347.


The start of my drive on South Rim Road began with the intersection with East Portal Road.  East Portal Road heads towards the Gunnison Diversion Dam which I ultimately skipped in 2016.  My first stop on South Rim Road was at Tomichi Point which looks eastward into Black Canyon.


My next stop on South Rim Road was at the Park Visitor Center for a look from Gunnison Point.  I should note that the hiking trails through most of Black Canyon lie above an elevation of 8,000 feet and tend to be on the shorter side.


Next along South Rim Road I stopped at the Cross Fissures View.


South Rim Road begins to swing westward.  I stopped and hiked the Rock Point Trail out to the rim of Black Canyon.


Just west of the Rock Point Trail the Devil's Lookout Trail can be accessed from South Rim Road.


From the Devil's Lookout Trail I next stopped west on South Rim Road at the Chasm View.


From the Chasm View I hiked the Painted Wall Trail to the namesake formation.  Painted Wall is the tallest sheer cliff in Black Canyon at 2,250 feet.  The lighter rocks in Painted Wall is pegmatite.



From Black Canyon's south rim I turned to US 50 via CO 347.  My next destination was south on US 550 and the Million Dollar Highway. 

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 22; US Route 550, the Million Dollar Highway, and San Juan Skyway

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Interstate 40 and the H-Bomb

Interstate 40 within California is entirely contained to San Bernandio County over a course of 155 miles from Interstate 15 in Barstow east to the Arizona State Line at the Colorado River.  Interstate 40 is aligned entirely in the Mojave Desert over the same general corridor established by US Route 66 and the National Old Trails Road.   Interstate 40 is known as the Needles Freeway and has an interesting backstory which included the prospect of the Bristol Mountains being excavated by way of nuclear blasts as part of Operation Carryall.   Part 1; the history of Interstate 40 in California The focus on this blog will be primarily centered around the construction of Interstate 40 ("I-40") within California.  That being said the corridor of automotive travel east of Barstow to the Arizona State Line was largely pioneered by the National Old Trails Road ("NOTR")   In April of 1912 the NOTR was organized with the goal of signing a trans-continental highway between Baltim

California State Route 232

This past month I drove the entirety of California State Route 232 in Ventura County. CA 232 is an approximately 4 miles State Highway aligned on Vineland Avenye which begins near Saticoy at CA 118 and traverses southwest to US Route 101 in Oxnard.  The alignment of CA 232 was first adopted into the State Highway System in 1933 as Legislative Route Number 154 according to CAhighways.org. CAhighways.org on LRN 154 As originally defined LRN 154 was aligned from LRN 9 (future CA 118) southwest to LRN 2/US 101 in El Rio.  This configuration of LRN 154 between CA 118/LRN 9 and US 101/LRN 2 can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Ventura County. 1935 Ventura County Highway Map According to CAhighways.org the route of LRN 154 was extended west from US 101/LRN 2 to US 101A/LRN 60 in 1951.  Unfortunately State Highway Maps do not show this extension due to it being extremely small. During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 154 was assigned CA 232.  Of n

California State Route 128

California State Route 128 is a 121 mile State Highway which spans from California State Route 1 at the mouth Navarro River eastward to Interstate 505 near Winters.  California State Route 128 is one of California's most underrated scenic State Highways which traverses; Mendocino County, Solano County, Napa County and Yolo County.  Presently California State Route 128 has 11 unconstructed miles which would connect it from Interstate 505 east to California State Route 113 in Davis.   Part 1; the history of the original California State Route 28 and California State Route 128 What became California State Route 128 ("CA 128") was announced in the   August 1934 California Highways & Public Works  as the original CA 28.    CA 28 in it's original definition was aligned from CA 1 near Albion east to US 40 near Davis.   CA 28 as originally defined was comprised of numerous Legislative Route Numbers ("LRN") which were adopted as follows: -  LRN 1  between McDona