Boat Ride Down Gunnison Reveals Ancient Secrets

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A boat tour offers a closer view of the Black Canyon. (credit: CBS)

A boat tour offers a closer view of the Black Canyon. (credit: CBS)

This report about the Morrow Point Boat Tour was first featured in an earlier version of Colorado Getaways. It aired again in the July 9 episode of the show.

GUNNISON, Colo. (CBS4) – A ride down the Gunnison River gives visitors a stunning view of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in central Colorado from water level, courtesy a boat called “Curecata Two.”

Cliffs made of the some of the oldest and hardest rock on the planet line the river.

“As the water started carving down through all that soft volcanic rock, it carved a canyon, deeper and deeper,” said Heather Boothe, a park ranger who leads trips with the Morrow Point Boat Tour. “Slowly but surely the water started carving down through this very hard rock at the incredible rate of about an inch every hundred years.”

The Morrow Point tour takes tourists along the reservoir, offering lessons in history and geology.

“In the rocks you’ll see patterns and faces and animals,” boat captain Tom Yengo said. “We’ve found projectile points. We have archaeological evidence of humans coming to this area starting about 10,000 years ago.”

“I really like the geological aspect of it and the immense amount of time that has passed on earth,” said passenger Tom Sands.

In more recent history, a railroad was built through the Black Canyon in the 1800s and the Curecanti Needle became its symbol.

“This 800 foot high spire of quartz monzonite rock became the emblem of the Denver & Rio Grand Scenic Line of the World,” said Boothe. “They marketed all over the world inviting people to come here to the Black Canyon to enjoy the scenic splendor of Colorado.”

colorado getaways Boat Ride Down Gunnison Reveals Ancient Secrets

Morrow Point Boat Tour (credit: CBS)

During the same period Ute Indians were being moved from western Colorado, the most famous of whom were Chief Ouray and his wife Chipeta.

A waterfall in the canyon is named for Chipeta.

“She was renowned for her wisdom, her beauty and her ability to get along with just about everyone,” Boothe said.

People who have taken the tour cannot get enough of all it has to offer.

“I’m a little biased but I love this place. It’s sort of the best of all worlds,” she said. “It’s a relatively easy access thing, family members can do it but you’re really here in the wilderness that really very few people get to see each year.”

Additional Resources

You must make pre-paid reservations for the Morrow Point Boat Tour. It costs $16 for adults and $8 for children and seniors. They run twice a day on every day except Tuesdays. Call (970) 641-2337 or log on to nps.gov/cure for more information.

RELATED LINK: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

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