Beyond the end of the road, Warner Point Trail leads to the highest point on Black Canyon of the Gunnison’s south rim. Named for minister Mark Warner, whose dogged advocacy led to the canyon’s protection as a National Monument in 1933, the trail is a short three quarters of a mile each way. As the afternoon of August 30 continued, we decided to hike out to see the view.
It was a little after 3:30 when we set out.
But before we did, we had a look at a completely amazing interpretive sign. I hope that the Park Service considers this illustrated sign, probably from the 1970s(?), itself an artifact worth preserving.
Warner Point Trail begins at High Point Overlook, elevation 8,287 feet, and tops out at Warner Point, elevation 8,302 feet. There is some up and down, but for the most part it’s fairly easy.
To the south, the Gunnison Uplift gives way to the Uncompahgre Valley. On clear days, the San Juan Mountains are visible.
At this higher elevation, we returned to the Piñon-Juniper ecosystem that we’d experienced at both Great Sand Dunes and Mesa Verde.
Warner Point offers a northeast view up the canyon toward Chasm View. On days absent wildfire smoke, the view of the West Elk Mountains in the distance must be grand.
Up the canyon, the northern wall (left) is Painted Wall, the highest sheer cliff in Colorado at 2,250 feet. We’d have a better look at it the following morning.
As we stood taking in the view, little Violet-Green Swallows swooped and circled in the air around us.
As we started back, we got a nice view northwest into the solitude of the downstream reaches of the canyon.
In all, the hike took us about an hour. Afterward, we began the drive back to the visitor center. On the way, a truck with Florida plates was just all up on my bumper. After I let him pass he just flew down the twisting turning park road. Yikes!
At the visitor center, we signed the guestbook on the broad wraparound porch before going into the park store, which was the only part of the building that was open.
The park store at Black Canyon is run by the Western National Parks Association. They are a first rate friends group for several dozen NPS units. The selection of books on display was impressive. And WNPA launched a new “Love and Protect Your Parks” icon with a bison. Between Sean and me, we now have it on two water bottles, a sticker, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, socks, a COVID mask, and a handerchief.
After chatting for a bit with the WNPA employee at the shop, we headed back toward the campground, stopping at Tomichi Point to grab a couple photos in the late afternoon light.
There we met a Raven with a lot of personality making its way along a fence.
Back in camp we had a snack of toasted hot dog buns smothered in bean dip, cheese, and tortilla chips.
It was just a snack and not dinner proper because we wanted to check out that evening’s Ranger Program at the amphitheater.
That evening, Ranger Paul delivered “Black Canyon Symphony” about the soundscape of the Park (and the impact of sound pollution). It was first rate. Ranger Paul made it very interactive with a bingo game and lots of questions to and from the audience.
We had a great time. And afterward Sean was gleeful that I was having so much fun. I just love a good Ranger Program.
Back at our campsite, we had our actual campstove dinner and built a nice campfire.
After dinner, Sean tried some stellar photography with his phone, and he got some pretty nice results.
Then it was time for sleep.