Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Photo by the U.S. National Park Service.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located in western Colorado.  The park contains 12 miles of the 48-mile long canyon of the Gunnison river.  The national park itself contains the deepest and most dramatic section of the canyon, but the canyon continues upstream into the Curecanti National Recreation Area and downstream into the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area.  The Gunnison River drops an average of 34 feet per mile through the entire canyon, making the 5th steepest mountain descents in North America.  In comparison, the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon drops an average of 7.5 feet per mile.  The Black Canyon is named on account of its steepness, which makes it difficult for sunlight to penetrate very far down the canyon, causing the rocky walls to appear black.  At its narrowest point, the canyon is only 40 feet across at the river.  (Source: Wikipedia, Image: U.S. National Park Service)

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