We first stopped off at the visitor center. There were no shot glasses, but I picked up a refrigerator magnet. This isn't the one I chose, but I liked it anyway.
There were three hikes we could take from the visitor center, and we chose this 2-mile loop that descended 400 feet into the canyon. To go deeper, one needed a wilderness permit.
The trail started out easy enough. We were walking through stands of scrub oak.
As we descended, it grew more rugged with rocks and roots ready to trip us if we didn't watch where we put our feet. Also, the trail was quite narrow, with no handrails and a steep drop-off on one side.
In the image below, Mike was pointing to a cliff right beside us.
It was a wall of rock, straight up, and immense.
The views of the canyon from the trail were a little disappointing overall. If I were to do this again, I'd stick with the half-mile scenic loop that started at the visitor center. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our hike, and certainly we could use the exercise. Surprisingly, the 400-foot ascent back out of the canyon wasn't too bad. We sat a couple of times and admired the view.
Near the end of the loop were the best views of the canyon, along with a sign about the geological forces that shaped it.
From there, we could look down, down, down into the very deep cleft cut by the Gunnison River below.
We crossed over three of these narrow board bridges on the ascent.
When we reached the top, we took the half-mile nature loop that started at the visitor center. The view of the canyon were much better from here.
And, honestly, every time we moved to a new place and looked again, the only word we could say was "Wow!"
From there, we drove on the 7-mile South Rim Drive, stopping at some of the lookouts along the way. Our first stop was Pulpit Rock. The rock parapet here was crafted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1930.
From there, we read this informational sign.
And then peered into the canyon. Wow!
It was after 1:00 p.m. by then, and so we decided to have lunch. We only opened two of the three slides on the camper. While we were eating, Smitty discovered he could jump from the bed to the upper reaches of the closed slide.
From there, it was a case of, how do I get down again? Mike ended up helping him.
To the cats reading along, this is an excellent demonstration of the idiom, "curiosity killed the cat." Please don't try this at home.
Our next stop along the drive was The Chasm overlook.
On the opposite wall, we could see examples of the pegmitite mentioned in one of the signs pictured above. At this section, we were as close to the North Rim as we would be on this trip, just 330 feet across the canyon. No zip-line here...sorry.
From the parking lot, we could walk a short distance to the Painted Wall. Along the way, I snapped this image of the one blooming thing in the park yesterday. No thoughts about what it might be.
Painted Wall can be seen in the image below. It has some great examples of pegmitite, but also, it is the tallest cliff in Colorado at 2,300 feet.
Here's some information about it.
Walking back to the truck, we had a brief exchange with this guy.
From there, we drove to the end of the South Rim Drive, called High Point Overlook. From there, one can see where the Gunnison River flows out of the canyon and onto the Colorado plane below.
Walking to the other side and looking in the other direction, one can see agricultural areas. In the middle of the image, but difficult to see, is the community of Montrose, where we are staying.
So the pictures don't really tell the story, and I encourage you to see it for yourself if you are able. It's worth at least a couple of days driving to see it.
We ate our first restaurant dinner of the trip last night. Just a block from the KOA is a barbecue joint called Jimmer's. You might recall we've tasted barbecue in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. Now we can add Colorado to the list. It was very tasty, and we had fun at the restaurant. We ordered one of the feasts for two, which included a half rack of ribs, brisket, turkey, and pulled pork, along with corn muffins and three sides. For dessert, Mike ordered the Moose Poo,
which is actually Oreo Truffles.
Looks delicious, no? Bear Scat was also on the dessert menu.
Today we'll be leaving Montrose and moving on to Fruita, Colorado. Fruita just happens to be the place we'll stay after driving another scenic byway, the Rim Rock Drive through Colorado National Monument. Its webpage describes the scenic byway as "one of the grandest scenic drives in the American West." Sounds good, huh? It's considered inseparable from the monument. I first read about it in a photography magazine. The road is windy and narrow, and so we've done some reading to make sure it's safe for truck campers towing trailers.