Mike Nelson's Colorado-- Black Canyon Of The Gunnison

Posted at 5:47 AM, Aug 14, 2009
and last updated 2016-04-13 16:09:25-04

One of Colorado's most scenic places may be one of its least visited. Black Canyon of the Gunnison became a National Park in 1999.

The Black Canyon stretches far beyond the 14 miles within the national park. Including the canyon within Curecanti National Recreation Area and Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area, the total length is 53 miles.

The Painted Wall is the highest cliff in Colorado. From river to rim it stands 2,250 feet and is 1,000 feet taller than the Empire State Building.

One of the best ways to see the Black Canyon is on a boat, so 7NEWS meteorologist Mike Nelson and his wife Cindy went fishing with guide Ryan Vanlanden of Elk Creek Marina.

"We can expect salmon, brown trout, rainbow trout, maybe brook trout, " Vanlanden told Nelson.

A boat trip into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison actually starts with a hike. After 232 steps and a half mile of trail, you're at the boat dock on the Gunnison River.

At the dock, the group got their poles and headed off.

No other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and depths of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Mike and his wife trolled for awhile. With several baited lines in the water, the boat moved slowly, dragging the lines. Mike caught three fish, but Cindy's turn was coming. When the group started fly fishing in a cove, Cindy caught the largest fish of the day, a German brown trout.

The boat tour wasn't just about fishing. Mike and Cindy floated by Chipeta Falls, a tall waterfall named for Chief Ouray's wife.

They also spotted Curecanti Needle, a 700 foot rock formation that may look slightly familiar because it was part of the logo for the Denver Rio Grande Scenic Railroad.

At the end of the trip Mike said, "This is just amazing in here, it's like nobody's been here before."

Boat tours run through Labor Day weekend. Visitors can also hike to the inner canyon. For more information on planning your visit, go to the National Parks Web site and Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association. To rent a boat or a fishing guide, visit the Blue Mesa Reservoir Web site.