The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is an awesome gorge. This canyon was named "black" because it is so deep, so sheer, so narrow that very little sunlight can penetrate it.

The canyon has been a mighty barrier to humans from time immemorial. Only it's rims showed evidence of human occupation. But in the early 1900s the nearby Uncompahgre Valley wanted river water for irrigation so a few of the residents decided to explore the river. In 1901 Abraham Lincoln Fellows floated down the river on a rubber mattress and said an irrigation tunnel was feasible.

We start our tour of the park by driving down the East Portal Road. A newer version of the road that was constructed so the irrigation tunnel could be built.

Looking back at just a little bit of the East Portal Road. It was steep, winding and long. We went down about 500 meters.

Finally at the bottom, the Gunnison River.

This building is the start of the tunnel. Workers digging from both ends met in the middle in July 1909. On September 23, 1909 water flowed into the valley. It wasn't until 1922 that all the work was completed: a diversion dam was built, the tunnel was lined with concrete and finishing ditches built.

A view of the cliff walls from the bottom of the canyon.

Back on the rim, we get spectacular views. The photos don't do the canyon justice as you can't make out all of the layers of rock. The photos are taken at different look outs along the South Rim Road.




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A pretty pink flower.


The different types of rocks are evident by the distinct colours in this cliff.

Lot of old junipers and cedars.

The west portal of the tunnel. Water is flowing down the canal to irrigate crops in the valley. More than 100 hundred years later and the tunnel is still doing it's job.