Day 3 found us in the western end of Colorado, leaving the town of Cortez in the early morning light. Our primary destination was the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, but our route there took us past Telluride.
Colorado Highway 145 took us out of Cortez, and past the town of Dolores, along the Dolores River as it made it’s way up the canyon. The green hills and fields was a dramatic change from the deserts of Monument Valley, just a hundred miles or so behind us.
As we neared the summit of Lizard Head’s Pass, we went through the small town of Rico
The mountains become more dramatic the nearer we got to Telluride.
As we made the turn to go up the valley to Telluride we passed a field of deer.
Telluride is a very exclusive ski community (don’t even ask how much real estate costs in town). They have far less development than other famous ski towns in the west (Aspen, Vail, Jackson Hole), and they like it that way.
After a brief visit we continued on our way, passing more scenic valleys.
After another hour or so we reached the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, near Montrose, Colorado. It is so named because of the steep walls of the canyon prevent sunlight all but 33 minutes of the day in the steepest part.
The Painted Wall is over 2200′ of sheer cliff, the highest in Colorado. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, while not a large park, is impressive.