Crossing Colorado

Black Canyon National Park

Juniper High Above Black Canyon © 2013 Bo Mackison

The Fourth Day – East Across Colorado

A half-dozen times I’ve circled Black Canyon National Park on vacation maps
and a half-dozen times we lingered too long at Arches or Canyonlands,
and Black Canyon was scratched. Who even knows there is such a place as
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park anyway?

Now you can count me among its visitors, I’ll keep its secret.
Here are steep cliffs, ancient rock, craggy spires,
and walls streaked with dragon outlines, erosion’s art work
on rocky canvas 2000 feet from flowing river to cliff edge.

Black Canyon National Park

Black Canyon National Park © 2013 Bo Mackison

Oh, the quiet places, open spaces, vertical wilderness
shared with soaring hawks and eagles.
Cloud cover kept the canyon in shadow, but the river’s song
sounded on the high mesa and wildflowers bloomed
in the roots of twisted junipers.

Twenty years getting here and I had only half a day
to see what I had missed, a half day to know I’ll return.
When the wind gusts spiked at 50 mph, I knew I’d pushed my luck,
but a tail wind pushed me half-way across Colorado.

Stranded Boat Dock - Curecanti NRA

Stranded Boat Dock © 2013 Bo Mackison

Colorado has fine scenery, but those low gray clouds packed with snowy potential
overwhelmed my yearn to pull over and explore.
Still, there was plenty to see –
the up and down rhythm of mountain, valley, mountain.
Tumbleweeds skirted the highways.

Cimarron, Colorado. Conjurer of Wild West.
Lakes half filled, driftwood sculptures lace the sandy edges.
And colors bleached by winter’s touch take on color — 
greening grasses, tree twigs in muted yellows, pinks, rusty reds,
Weeping willows in yellow-green tangles.
Calves snooze in muddy pastures,
content as their mothers graze nearby.

Dust Storm at Curecanti NRA

Dust Storm at Curecanti © 2013 Bo Mackison

Dust clouds swirl around my car at Curecanti.
I stop at another ranger station,
it’s a slow day for recreation, the staff ply me with coffee, maps,
highlight the safest route through the eastern mountain passes.
Another hawk sweeps past my car, hawks are my companion bird this trip.

San Isabel National Forest.
Steepy Mountain.
And then Monarch Pass. Fitting, Monarch is the pass to bid me farewell
as I cross the Continental Divide and head towards the plains.

Salida and a stop at Sally’s Cafe for coffee.
The road follows the Arkansas River,
running with spring melt, thunder-crashing into protruding red rock.
Fly fishermen queue for prime locations.

In the high desert town of Cañon City
I watch the last hawk of the day —
dancing, sky diving, it welcomes the evening.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. A cross-country traveler by day, and an occasional poet. This is a poem in nine parts, because the trip lasts nine days. This is day four!

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. I love visiting Colorado, where I live, from your poetic perspective, Bo! I’m about two hours from Black Canyon and haven’t been there in years. I have had the pleasure of flying over it several times, though, from a fairly low altitude because of having just taken off in Grand Junction. That is quite impressive too!

    Glad you swept through our state and I hope that next time you’ll have a more leisurely visit and we can meet!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I didn;t realize you lived in Colorado, Sue! How sweet. Yes, I have enjoyed your state. Of my 9 day adventure, I spent 4 nights in various parts.

      Oooh, I love seeing Arizona from the sky — the ranges and basins, would love to see Black Canyon from the sky, too. And yes, next time we’ll set up a meet. How fun!

  2. The first photo is one that caused me to catch my breath. You did a great job capturing the twisted trunks and bark.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I took more than my share of the junipers — cannot stay away from their twisted trunks and barks so full of textures. And then there are the roots and the jagged branches — loveliness! 🙂

  3. Gandalf says:

    Sounds like a wonderful adventure.

  4. Beautiful. Just beautiful. 🙂

Leave a Reply