Steve and our boys had discovered this gem in SW CO when they went on a 5000+ mile “round the West” RV tour about 15 years ago. Steve had talked this up so much since then, that it was a must stop on this trip for us. Man, am I glad we did!
The views were just jaw dropping-ly beautiful, and I just couldn’t do it justice with two dimensional pictures, but I’ll try!
There are areas of the canyon that get only 30 minutes of sunlight a day (due to the depth and steepness of the walls), hence the name.
There were beautiful knife edges of the canyon wall, that hopefully you can appreciate in the picture above. The sharp edges are the lighter vertical stripes in the right third of the picture.
We went hiking on a trail that took us down into the canyon aways, and were thrilled to be treated to this aspen grove. We also got some really unique views:
At another overlook (that we drove to), we got yet a different perspective:
Shot throughout many of the walls were lighter bands of “pegmatite” (igneous rock with large crystals in it) that looked like enormous modern art murals.
Painted Wall is a gigantic version of this. It is “the tallest sheer cliff in CO, at 2,250 ft” (thanks again, Wiki). Note the full size trees on the top of the wall:
We drove down to the Gunnison River, along a road with a 16% grade and numerous hairpin turns. Next time you’re driving on a road with a steep grade, note the percent - bet it won’t be more than 5 or 10%.
We then just drove numerous scenic byways in central and western CO, and got lucky with breaks in the clouds, or coming up on some ranges that had just had the first snow the day before.
I just kept saying, “O.M.G.” or “It’s just so beautiful!”, and Steve would patiently pull over, so I could take yet another picture.
We continued to marvel at our luck in hitting the turning aspen season so perfectly.