It’s a new day and we make an early start to catch the Dillon Pinnacles in the Curecanti National Recreation Area from an overlook on US50 over the Blue Mesa Reservoir. Here the is another sign called the Anatomy of a Mesa talking about this geologic formation.
The Blue Mesa Reservoir is very large and covered over made historical places including Sapinero, CO. This town was once known as “Soap Creek” when it was formed by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in 1881. Today only the fish travel its streets below the water.
Our first hike of the day will be the Pine Creek Trail which is a Rail Trail of the D&RGW with the trail head being at 38 27.013N 107 20.715W. The trail starts off with a lot of stairs to get you down from the parking lot on the canyon rim to where the railroad Right-of-Way is above water just below the Blue Mesa Dam spillway
Once down on the Right of Way, it is an easy level walk along the railroad grade. This is also the way to get to the Boat Tour dock (Morrow Point Boat Tours) to tour Morrow Point Reservoir that Lisa and I did several years ago. With the water levels here also down, the grade for the Denver & Rio Grande Western is above water well beyond the dock so we will take advantage of this and hike until the water levels finally get above the roadbed; I would say we got about 1.5 miles into the canyon before the water cut us off.
While down of the D&RGW roadbed, I spotted a Weasel coming up from the water. Only got a few shots before it was gone with this being the clearest shot
Also while on the grade, I would spot a few old Telegraph Polls.
A bit farther down the road, we reach a pull-off where we can get a nice view of the Curecanti Needle; which is also part of the D&RGW Railway logo. Good thing we spotted this pull-off as the Overlook area was closed for maintenance. Don’t look down from where we were if you are afraid of heights as you can tell from the photo Lisa took of me it’s straight down!
We will stop next at Hermit’s Rest Trail but only hike a small portion of the trail. The trail will take you all the way down to the shoreline but we just wanted to take a few photographs from higher up.
As we turn get close to Crawfrod, CO, Needle Rock would come into view and though there is a bit of a haze from wildfires it was still worth taking a few shots.
At this point we turned off the highway to head for the less seen Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park North Rim. Most folks tour this area from the South Rim which we will do on Day #5. On this day (being already late in the day) we will make stops at Chasm View, The Narrows, Balanced Rock, Big Island, Island Peaks, and Kneeling Camel. We will come back to do Explanation Point Day #7
As we head back out of the North Rim, I will stop for a few shots of the Aspen Colors in this area as well.
Time to drive to Grand Junction that we will us as our hotel base-camp for the next few days…