Road to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO

We leisurely packed this morning and continued our journey north on Highway 550 to Montrose, our jumping off point for Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Montrose is the largest town we had been in since Durango and there were plenty of shopping choices and friendly people. Going without coffee for almost a week, a stop at Looney Bean Coffee Roasters was so necessary. Walking in you can smell the roasting coffee beans. The staff were really helpful on explaining their drink menu but being a creature of habit, I chose a Vanilla Latte. It was a little sip of heaven! Now that I was fortified with caffeine, we gassed up and made a quick stop at the grocery store before heading to the National Park.

The actual entrance to Black Canyon of the Gunnison is about 20 miles away from the town of Montrose which ended up being a huge blessing. As we were making the gradual climb up to the park, we heard a strange sound under the hood; then a clunk and a thud. We pulled over alongside the two-lane road. Troy knew something was seriously wrong. We called AAA to tow the truck to the Ford dealership in town.

Lessons Learned: Even though we did routine maintenance before we left home, things can and will happen. Having the AAA Classic membership, we received 7 free tow miles for our truck, but there WAS NOT coverage for our trailer being towed. When I returned home, I put a call into AAA to ask about options for RV’ers.  What I learned was AAA offers an Optional RV and Motorcycle Towing and RV Tire Change Service.  This optional coverage is $37 per membership year, and includes the towing of an RV (or trailer) for 100 miles.  This is money well spent!  For those with trailers, it was recommended to upgrade to the AAA Plus membership which ups the free tow miles to 100.  This way both your tow vehicle and trailer will have the same free towing distance.  

Waiting on the side of the road on the way to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO

While we waited for the tow truck, Troy and I discussed the limited options options available. Troy called his father who lives in Northern Utah and he agreed to make the 7 hour drive with his truck to help us out. It was decided that Troy would go to town with the tow truck and leave me and the kids with the unattached trailer (yes, it was on the side of the road). Not the best of options, but seemed the most logical. As the truck was getting hooked up to the tow truck, a local police officer stopped to check things out. It was nice to have the chance to let him know the kids and I were going to be alongside the road for some hours and to keep an eye on us.

Building Rock Towers to Pass the Time – Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO

As Troy and the truck disappeared around the bend towards town, it was up to me to keep the kiddos entertained.  We set up our camp chairs and listened to the quiet of our surroundings. OK, that lasted only a minute before the kids decided to throw rocks over the embankment.  Without knowing what was below, I redirected and had them collect rocks for towers instead.  Soon, we were amongst a city of rock towers, each serving a different purpose. When the rain came, we scooted inside and ate some lunch and pulled out the card games. When the rain would stop, we would head back out to build some more towers (or knock down the ones we made).

Admittedly, I was a nervous wreck that whole afternoon. All I could think of was some crazy person showing up at our door or even worse, hitting the trailer while we were in there. The hours ticked by with only the briefest of communication with Troy as both of our phones were low on power. (We later learned if we had gone around one more bend, we would not have had any cell service at all).

Finally, after 8 hours, Troy and his father arrived, hooked the trailer up (of course, there was an issue with the ball size but OK enough to get us to our campground), and pulled us to our campsite within the National Park. I was grateful to arrive and to have electrical hook-ups! While the guys worked on getting camp set-up, I worked on dinner.

Since this all happened on a Saturday, we knew that no matter what, we would be staying an extra night as the dealership wouldn’t even be looking at the truck until they opened Monday. It was clear that we were not going to be able to make it to our next campground and unsure of how long we were stranded her at Black Canyon. All we could do was remain hopeful and wake to a new day and enjoy the beauty of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, now with Grandpa!