Experiences, anecdotes, tips, how-tos, hiking, nature, motherhood, memories.

Adventures in Camping with Kids

Camping with kids is like pitching a tent upside down. Both are bound to fill with laughter and raindrops.

--Victoria Marie

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Varied Landscapes of Colorado National Parks

A beautiful national park, but keep an
eye on your children around cliff edges.
Colorado is a fascinating state to visit.  It boasts four National Parks with different landscapes: Rocky Mountains, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  I talk about our adventures at Rocky Mountain National Park here, Great Sand Dunes here, and Mesa Verde here. 

            The deep, dark Black Canyon of the Gunnison River is extremely narrow compared with the Grand Canyon and we couldn’t venture in with our young children.  Even though we’ve hiked with our children for years, the inner canyon is only for experts.  The trails are through gullies down the cliff side on unmaintained and unmarked trails. 

This is not like the unmarked trail at the Great Sand Dunes National Park where you can see all around you and you’re only trudging through thick sand.  At the Black Canyon, it is raw, rugged cliffs, backcountry, they call it.  Not for a family who wishes to see another adventure.

Never take children on unmarked trails.  The chance of getting lost is too great.  Sunlight fades fast out in nature and it becomes black and cold at night.  Hiking unmaintained trails are also not a good idea as you can’t be sure what danger lies in the brush.  Never hike alone.  Never!  Needless to say, sheer cliffs are not for children.  Or me!

But don’t worry.  There’s much family friendly adventure waiting for you at both the North and South Rims of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  Aside from some awesome park ranger programs about the geology of the cliffs, the park boasts some of the oldest rock in North America, there are easy, flat hikes and breathtaking scenic drives along the rims.  And you can get to the glistening green Gunnison River by the East Portal Road.  The museum is fascinating!  It also tells you about the schist and the gneiss of the canyon walls as well offering documentation of exploration in the canyon.

As you view the raw, natural power of geology and water, keep a close watch on your children.  The cliff edges are dark and cut away drastically.  I couldn’t enjoy the view until my children were all sitting down around me.  Only then, could I look around.  However, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is definitely worth the visit.

            If you’re looking for a vacation with the most varied landscapes, Colorado is the state to visit.  And most national parks offer campgrounds inside the park.  With the celebration of 100 years of National Park Service here in the United States, which national parks have you visited?  Do you have a favorite?  Thanks so much for visiting Camping with Kids.  Please stop by again.