Ouray has the largest concentration of canyons in close proxmity in the United States with all the amenities of a small mountain town. Oak Creek, Portland Creek, and Cascade Creek end in town, while Corbett Creek is five minutes North of town, and Weehawken Creek, Angel Creek, Bear Creek, and the Upper Uncompahgre are just ten minutes to the South.
There are a few more wilderness canyons in Cow Creek, one drainage to the east requiring 4wd and more canyons 30 minutes to the south near the historic town of Silverton (see map below).
To access all of these canyons, the approaches require hiking from the car to the drop in to the canyons.
Staying Safe in Ouray Canyons
Scout the pools before jumping as these canyons change dramatically not only between seasons, but also between storms.
Several sharp edges in these canyons have caused core shots. Careful rope work is required.
This environment is at high altitude and commonly has mountain afternoon weather.
Please check out the Canyon Safety page for more information
Expected Water Levels in August
A note for 2023! We had an excellent snow year and as such, canyons are still (as of mid-July) running higher than normal. Levels may come down by the time of the fest but be aware and prepared for higher than typical water this year!
All of the canyons in these mountains have flowing water year round. Water levels will be flowing with a very manageable flow for Cascade Creek, Corbett Creek, Oak Creek, Bear Creek, Portland Creek, Angel Creek, Ice Lake Creek, Clear Creek.
Weehawken Creek and the Upper Uncompahgre River usually run with a higher water flow.
South Fork Mineral Creek in Silverton is a much larger water flow canyon by nature.
A 5mm wetsuit is recommended for canyons based on typical water flow and mountain temperatures. A 4/3mm wetsuit could be used as well depending on the canyon and your temperature. Lower Angel and Portland Creeks could be done without a wetsuit if the day is hot.
Standard harness, ascension and self-rescue equipment, helmet.
The lower portion of Angel Creek is a great training canyon. Short, easy access, but still the spectacular Ouray carved sandstone. Bring your non-canyon friends out for a few hours or do this after a shorter day.
Cutting through several geologic layers, Bear Creek offers many rappels and sometimes pools just south of town.
Cascade has the highest rappel of all the canyons of Ouray. After more than 10 rappels, including two 60m rappels, the final rappel is 85 meters. Cascade Creek ends in town on 3rd Avenue
Corbett provides a great variety including a few tall rappels, downclimbing, and very beautiful and unique red sandstone hallways.
The Upper, Middle, and Lower sections of Oak Creek can be done separately or all in one big push of 20+ rappels with the tallest being 50 meters.
A short canyon near the Amphitheater campground with a 20m rappel below the bridge.
An off-the-beaten track alpine canyon
(Literally! There is no trail other than game trails to get there!)
Pools, jumps, and even a few tobaggans with an easy approach along a jeep trail make this canyon a great day!
Weehawken typically has a melting out snow bridge the start and walks through quartzite cooridoors.
Ice Lake Creek, Porcupine Creek, South Fork Mineral Creek, Arrastra Creek, Three Lakes Creek, Crater Creek, Clear Creek
More canyons are located around Silverton, a 40 minute drive South of Ouray on a great drive through the heart of the San Juans. See more information here: http://ropewiki.com/index.php/San_Juan_Mountains