Colorado's Best Wildflower Hikes: The High Country
The Utes were able to explain Black Canyon of the Gunnison in one appropriate word—Tomichi, which means “land of high cliffs and plentiful water.” The word “breathtaking” should precede the word “land.” Magnificent, stirring, stimulating, and stunning would work, too. Geology sometimes takes on magnificent qualities. While a monumental story in stone can be gleaned from many points on the south rim drive, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument offers a loop trail that takes the hiker down to a more personal encounter with the mystic gorge. The wildflowers along Oak Flat Loop add an intimate quality.
Oak Flat Trail begins on the rim top at the national monument’s handsome visitor center. The loop’s undaunted topography takes in two miles of woods, wildflowers, an impressive river at work, and the sheer awesomeness of the Black Canyon. Descending for most of the way, the trail reaches a great heap of gargantuan boulders which allows hikers to perch and absorb the dynamic vista—2 million years in the making. The last trail segment zigzags steeply but quickly back up to complete the loop. Wildflower Alert: Wildflowers collect along an intimate look into the awesome Black Canyon of the Gunnison.