“Several western canyon exceed the Black Canyon in overall size,” writes geologist Wallace Hansen. “Some are longer; some are deeper’ some are narrower’ and a few have walls as steep. But no other canyon in North America combines the depth, narrowness, sheerness, and somber countenance of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.”
The abrupt defile, reaching depths of 2,500 feet below its rim, was carved by the Gunnison River, Colorado’s fourth longest river, over the last three million years. The river’s extremely steep gradient and tumbling riverbed boulders continue to chisel the canyon downward. Geologist estimate that the canyon deepens about one inch annually.
The Black Canyon is a beautiful but intimidating place. The canyon was called Tomichi or “Land of cliffs and water” by the Ute Indians.
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