Black Canyon of the Gunnison

The morning started a little slow after sitting by the camp fire and drinking beer last night ;-). We didn’t leave the campground until 10:00am to head north into Montrose, CO where we did some grocery shopping before continuing to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

After stopping at the Visitor Center to have some lunch (apple, half a snack bar and trail mix) and ask about hiking in the National Park we head out on South Rim Road to get to the ‘Warner Point’ trail head. Given the winding road with a narrow shoulder and steep drops we decided not to stop at the pull outs but focus on riding instead.  The hope was that the majority of visitors would only stop at the crowded pull outs and not go hiking, even if the trail was short.

This would be the first test of our ‘motorcycle and hike’ concept, meaning we’d be riding in full gear to the trail head and hiking from there. I had made long cables with loops on each end so we could loop the cable through our jacket, pants and helmet and then secure the cable with a lock to the bike. The only thing unsecured would be our riding boots if we are loaded up. If riding out from a campground, our panniers would be empty so they could hold the boots.

We were a little leery about leaving our riding boots unsecured in a busy spot. Since it was only a 1.4 mile hike in and back we decided to try hiking in our boots. :-o. So, once our riding gear was secured to the motorcycle we set off on the hike. As we expected, the trail was mostly empty, not nearly as many people as on the road. We were rewarded with some amazing views not only into the canyon but also the surrounding lower elevation. It was a great hike to get us started and hiking in the boots wasn’t half bad.

The challenges started after we left the park to find a place to camp. The first place we stopped didn’t have WIFI and was just off a major highway and rather old without any other campers around. Pass. The next one didn’t accept tent campers anymore (outdated website) which led us eastward on US50 towards Gunnison.  The first National Forest campground that was supposed to have showers didn’t, nor did the second. We were resigned to ride all the way into Gunnison to get a hotel when we came across one final private RV park & Campground. They had a space and hot showers. Sold! Though tent campers were clearly an afterthought – off a dirt road on the far side of the park which catered to RVers – we didn’t care. The camp spot was level and the shower worked. We had the tent space to ourselves and, once again, were asleep by the time it was dark out.

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