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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colo.
Millions of years ago, the Gunnison River began carving out Black Canyon, a deep, dramatic gorge in western Colorado whose rocks rank among North America's oldest. These days, only the most experienced rock climbers scale the more than 2,000 dizzying, difficult feet of sheer canyon wall each year. The walls are so challenging, in fact, that the NPS website emphatically warns that Black Canyon "is not a place for the beginning climber." For those who prefer a life less vertical, hiking trails and scenic drives offer the barren beauty of Black Canyon without all the danger.
Mark Byzewski / Flickr)