Get Outside: Starry Night Over Black Canyon Of The Gunnison

Get Outside is a weekly dose of inspiration to get you off the couch and enjoying what nature has to offer.

Unlike the sweeping expanse and enormous magnitude of Grand Canyon, where the average distance from rim to rim is 10 miles, Black Canyon of the Gunnison is narrow. At its most dramatic, the distance between the rims is 1,100 feet, but at that same point, the depth of the canyon is more than 1,800 feet. It’s that combination of narrow and deep that makes the canyon so extraordinary, but that combination also makes Black Canyon the most difficult place I’ve photographed at night. When I made this photo, I stayed at the North Rim Campground on a night in which the setting moon provided just enough light to illuminate the dark canyon without drowning out the stars. After resting for a couple hours after sunset, I got up and went to this spot, a place I had scouted earlier, and made this photograph just before the moon set. Stargazing in the dark just inches away from an 1800-foot sheer drop in a wild place inhabited by black bears and mountain lions made me feel alive in ways that little else could, and on my very next visit to Black Canyon’s north rim, a mountain lion crossed the road right in front of me. Knowing that bears and lions are there, though, makes the experience for me more invigorating, more memorable, perhaps because of the danger they represent; their presence makes me feel more connected to the planet instead of separated from it.

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Published: January 21, 2015

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Greg Owens