Crystal Dam/Black CanyonDate: 5/26/2008
Miles From Grand Junction Approx. 150 miles round trip.
Access: Passenger Car Friendly
Usage: Crystal Dam-Moderate, Black Canyon-High
Crystal Dam and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is another longer day trip if your coming from the Grand Junction area. Both attractions are located about 13 miles east of Montrose and are well worth the trip. The current fee is a steep $15 per vehicle but the pass is good for seven days. The road down to the dam is very, very steep and twisty, motor homes, busses and camp trailers are not recommended and might not even be allowed. Be sure your brakes are in good working order and use the lowest gear. The East Portal road to Crystal Dam is closed from November to April. Be sure to check with the park service to see if it’s open before you head out. You can call them at (970) 641-2337
Crystal Dam is the third and final dam in the Colorado River Storage project. The dam is 323 feet high, slightly smaller than Morrow Point dam. The dam is a double curvature thin arch that utilizes a spillway that actually flows over the top of the dam. Unfortunately the dam does not spill over all the time, as of the end of May of 2008 it was spilling over, prior to that the last time it did was in 2001. You can call the Bureau of Reclamation to find out if it is spilling over or not prior to your visit.
Once you climb your way out of the canyon, you can continue up the road and visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The Black Canyon was formed by the Gunnison River slowly wearing down the rock. The canyon is known best for its narrow opening, steep walls and a depth that might make you dizzy. Be sure to stop at the South Rim Visitor Center for more information along with some exhibits and a small movie, and of course a little gift shop.
There are quite a few things to do in and around the Black Canyon which include camping, hiking, rock climbing and fishing the “Gold Medal” waters of the Gunnison. Click the following link to access the Black Canyon website to get all the information. Black Canyon of the Gunnison.