National parks have been very popular vacation destinations during these pandemic times. Many people have heard of Rocky Mountain National Park in northern Colorado, a mere 1.5 hours away from Denver International Airport. Unfortunately, its closeness to a major metropolitan area makes it very crowded. That’s why Black Canyon of the Gunnison in SW Colorado is an enticing alternative. It’s a long drive – nearly 6 hours from Denver – however, with a little planning you can visit some other national parks, such as Mesa Verde, Four Corners National Monument, and Moab (Canyonlands and Arches NP).
Our first visit to Black Canyon was just a stop on our way back to Denver in 2011 after a tour of Utah and Arizona. We were so impressed with it that we made a trip back in 2015 and did a few nights of camping. It’s so peaceful and calm. The scenery is outstanding and its sunsets are out of this world.
Colorado has two forest fires burning in western Colorado right now, the Pine Gulch fire near Grand Junction and the Grizzly Creek fire near Glenwood Springs. Neither are close to me but you wouldn’t know it by the air quality. I usually sleep with my window open, but my room smelled like a campground this morning. It was so bad that I didn’t even go outside like I usually do to drink my morning coffee.
In addition, the Grizzly Creek fire has closed I-70, the major east-west interstate through Colorado, at Glenwood Springs. Yes, you can still get to the major mountain resorts if traveling through Denver, but if you’re going further west to Utah, you will be affected. In addition, the scenic Independence Pass road is closed (CO-82). A lot of people were taking this as a bypass, but this road is not designed for heavy traffic. I was just there 2 weeks ago and can attest to that. In fact, I saw a pop-up trailer that went over the side of the road at one point (but no car!)
The only good in these fires is that they do make for interesting sunsets.