Colorado - Utah Trip 2014

Part 2: Hotchkiss

July 5th & 6th

Our first day in Hotchkiss began with waffles for breakfast followed by a hike to the Gunnison River Rock Art Site. The petroglyphs here are thought to be very old, as they are quite faded. It is estimated that they were created between 7000 BC and 400 AD, but there is no way to know for sure just when. The University of Wyoming is currently doing an archeological excavation of a rock shelter at the site.

Lizard along the trail  We stumbled on this little fellow sunning himself almost immediately upon hitting the trail.

Juvenile collared lizard  This is a juvenile collared lizard. As an adult he will be green with yellow toes and head with a dark collar around his neck.

Collared lizard  He was a remarkably patient little guy and did not seem too bothered by our attempts to take his photo.

Bill and Terry on the trail to the Gunnison River Rock Art site.  Bill and Terry on the trail, discussing the large orchard in the background.

Gunnison River Rock Art site.  The archeological site.

Actual dig site of the Gunnison River Rock Art site.  A closer view of the actual dig site. No, I did not cross the fence to take this photo, it was taken from outside the fence.

Petroglyphs at Gunnison River Rock Art site.  Petroglyphs at the site. They are very old and rather faded, making them difficult to see.

Jim and Bill with tamarisk in Lawhead Gulch  We returned via a short slot canyon called Lawhead Gulch. Here are Dad and Bill, discussing tamarisk, an invasive species of plant that has all but taken over the waterways of the west.

Lawhead Gulch  It is looking like this canyon might be interesting.

Rock formations in Lawhead Gulch  Some of the unique rock formations in Lawhead Gulch.

Rock formations in Lawhead Gulch  More rock formations

Bill and Jim in Lawhead Gulch  My accomplices for the day.

Lawhead Gulch  Another view of the inside of Lawhead Gulch

Abandoned cliff swallow nests in Lawhead Gulch  These are the abandoned homes of some cliff swallows that used to nest here. No one seems to know why they do not nest here any longer.

Salt wash in Colorado high desert, Uncompahgre Plateau  Most people do not associate this type of topography with Colorado, they usually think of tall mountains. Much of Colorado is high desert such as this, salt wash and all.

Grand Mesa from top of Lawhead Gulch  Grand Mesa in the background. A mesa is defined as a flat topped mountain. Grand Mesa happens to be the largest mesa in the world. Don't let the photo fool you, the top of Grand Mesa is at an altitude of 11,000 feet above sea level. It can freeze up there during any month of the year. The average high temperature in July is 69F and the record high temperature is only 80F.

Fossilized plant life??  Nope.  Fossilized plant life??  Hardly. See the next photo.

Stamped concrete that looks like fossilized rock  It is stamped concrete, but before the concrete set, they added leaves from some of the trees and plants in their yard. I think it turned out very nice!

We spent the remainder of the day just relaxing and catching up. Supper was simple, with brats over the campfire, followed by a round of dominos in the evening.

Sunday broke bright and clear. Bill, Kathy, and Dad went into town early for Bible study, and I made use of the time to catch up on the trip journal and photo catalog, then met them at church for 11:00 AM Mass. We enjoyed a nice drive back to their home on the back roads then enjoyed a nice lunch, after which we headed over to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We've all been there multiple times, but it is so awe inspiring that one never tires of the dramatic views. Photos do not do it justice, but I have included some here for your enjoyment.

Being the Fourth of July weekend, one would expect the park to be quite busy, and it had been, but we arrived at about 3 PM, so most folks were packing up and heading home. As we arrived the technical rescue team was just departing. A quick check of the trail board indicated that S.O.B. was closed. It didn't take much to figure out that somebody got into trouble down there.

For the uninitiated, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is very deep, narrow, and steep. At its deepest point, Warner Point, it is over 2700 feet from the river to the canyon rim.

The Painted Wall at Black Canyon of the Gunnison  The park also contains the tallest cliff in Colorado, The Painted Wall, which is 2250 feet high. If you placed the Empire State Building in the canyon, it would be 1000 feet short of reaching the top of the Painted Wall.

 Serpent Point, Black Canyon of the Gunnison  The highest point on the Painted Wall is at Serpent Point. I think you will agree that the name is appropriate..

Looking down on bottom of S.O.B trail, Black Canyon of the Gunnison  The park contains many trails, some of which work their way down to the river at the bottom. One of these trails is called S.O.B. (yes it stands for exactly what you think it does) and from what I have been told it is very appropriately named. I have not been on it, but some of my family members have. Just looking down it from the top is enough to make one think twice. This photo shows where the trail arrives at the river, on the right side of the photo near the bottom.

Island Rock, Black Canyon of the Gunnison Nat'l Park  As in most National Parks, Black Canyon contains a number of named features. This one is called Island Rock.

The Kneeling Camel, Black Canyon of the Gunnison Nat'l Park  The Kneeling Camel

South Rim taken from North Rim, Black Canyon of the Gunnison Nat'l Park  This photo was taken at the widest angle possible with my camera, but the canyon is so deep that the bottom does not even appear in this photo. The building at the upper right is the South Rim Visitor Center.

Terry, Kathy, Jim, and Bill at Black Canyon of the Gunnison Nat'l Park  Myself, my Dad's sister Kathy, Dad, and Kathy's husband, Bill.

Jim and Bill exploring  Just like a couple of kids...

Maricopa Lily  A Maricopa Lily, which is rather common in the park. An interesting side note: Poison Ivy is rather common also It grows in the bottom of the canyon, and can grow to five feet high. On the other hand, there are no poisonous snakes or lizards in the park. Night time temperatures get too cold for them. 

Kneeling Camel, Black Canyon of the Gunnison Nat'l Park  Another view of the Kneeling Camel. There are two people in the photo. Can you locate them?

Balanced Rock, Black Canyon of the Gunnison Nat'l Park  Balanced Rock. It is difficult to see in this photo, but this huge chunk of rock sits here, hanging on the side of the cliff. It looks as though a strong wind would blow it from its perch.

We returned to Tembrock's for supper and more dominos. They have a wonderful view from their back yard. Since the light wasn't too bad, I thought it a good idea to get some photos.

Distant view of Needle Rock, Crawford, Colorado  Needle Rock. This is an old volcanic plug with the rest of the volcano eroded away. Joe Cocker of rock and roll fame has his Mad Dog Ranch very near to this feature, though it is not visible in the photo.

Mt. Lamborn and Land's End Peak viewed from near Hotchkiss, Colorado  Mount Lamborn on the left, and Land's End Peak on the right. The log cabin is on a neighbor's property but certainly adds to the view. The story goes that it is an old fur trapper's cabin from long ago.

Two people near the Kneeling Camel, Black Canyon of the Gunnison Nat'l Park  For those who are unable to find the two people in the photo of the Kneeling Camel, this photo should help you.

As always, our visits to Tembrock's are too short, but we must move on as there is so much to see and do!


Click on the button for Part 3 and follow along as we travel west to Moab, Utah for some thrilling photos from canyon country.

Home Page Trip Contents Part 1 - Getting There Part 2 - Hotchkiss Part 3 - Moab
Part 3 - Moab - Page 2 Part 4 - Durango Part 5 - Ouray Part 5 - Ouray - Page 2 Part 6 - Buena Vista