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by Maryann Gaug, Revised by Sandy Heise (Falcon Guides)
The North Vista Trail follows the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, traveling through Gambel oak and piñon-juniper forest. Dramatic canyon views appear along the trail and at two unprotected overlooks accessed by short spur trails. A third and longer spur loops out to the accurately named Exclamation Point, with an incredible view into the canyon. From here, the trail continues along the north rim, then switchbacks up to the top of Green Mountain (8,563 feet). The spectacular, aerial view of the Black Canyon is almost surrealistic. A short loop takes you around the top of Green Mountain, offering a 360-degree view of western Colorado.
Colorado's Best Wildflower Hikes: The High Country
by Pamela & David Irwin (Westcliffe Publishers)
It has taken two million years of relentless toil for the Gunnison River to carve some 2,000 vertical feet of resistant schist and gneiss. The awesome result is the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Twelve miles of this naturally-sculpted gorge were designated a national monument in 1933. While the south rim is the most popular destination, a visit to the north rim offers more solitude. The first week of June is a great time to experience this along North Vista Trail. The trail follows the rim a fair distance from the chasm’s edge along the one-and-a-half-mile jaunt out to aptly named Exclamation Point. Once there, the overlook allows an unfettered heart-stopping view almost 2,000 feet down to the roaring Gunnison River, bound by an incredibly rugged dark gorge. This easy trek is characterized by approximately four-dozen varieties of wildflowers. Wildflower Alert: Wildflower gardens pave the way to a stunning viewpoint looking 2,000 feet into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
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