Also known as canyoneering, canyoning is an exciting water and climbing sport that’s gaining the attention of adventurous spirits all over the world. Grab a guide and try your hand at rappelling, rafting, and waterfall jumping in one of our Ouray canyons!
What Does Canyoning Involve?
Depending on your choice of canyoning, there are endless ways to explore. You can raft down the ravine’s rivers or leap from its waterfalls as you make your way through. Most commonly, canyoneers end up doing a lot of hiking, rappelling, and scrambling over slick or craggy rocks and sheer cliff faces.
Despite all the fun and adventure that comes with the activity, there are many safety hazards on the slick rocks. Because of this, it’s important that you not only have the right gear, but the right knowledge as well.
Do not fear! There are many courses perfect for getting you ready for your next trip. Most courses offer information and training on the following topics:
- Canyoning gear: The gear is necessary to make sure you and your group are safe and can effectively traverse the ravine. Gear includes harnesses, wetsuits, helmets, varying strengths of ropes and carabiners, and more.
- Identifying risks: Ravines offer many hidden hazards in their waters and boulders. It’s important that you know how to identify which route is safe and which route is not.
- Traversing different canyon levels: Varying course levels will help you to make your way through the different challenge levels of ravines.
- Canyoning procedures: Safety procedures and climbing techniques are, of course, taught in different course levels as well.
- Whitewater and other water conditions: Canyoneering involves many different water conditions and you need to know how to handle them.
- Other general knowledge: There are many things to consider when making your way through one of these rocky beauties, and the right course will teach you all you need to know.
Before you make an attempt to learn how to explore these canyons on your own, try to get some experience first. Ouray and the surrounding areas hold many options for guided tours in a variety of different locations.
When to Explore
The time of the year greatly impacts when it’s best to start your canyon adventure. Here in Ouray, spring rains and snow runoff have a huge impact on the state of our canyons. Late summer and early fall (August-September) is the perfect time for exploration. The water is at a safe and low level and the weather is warm enough to brave the chilly waters of our Ouray canyons.
Where to Explore
Ouray and the surrounding areas house different levels of ravines for different levels of climbers. Guides are the best way to get through these canyons safely and efficiently. Bringing a guide can help you to focus on having fun and gaining practice.
- Portland Creek – This is one of Ouray’s easiest canyons with the largest rappel at 60 feet. The ravine starts narrow and simple, then opens up with a 55-foot waterfall about midway through.
- Angel Creek – Another adventure awaits at Angel Creek. Although the largest rappel at this location is only 40 feet, the red sandstone of the ravine allows you to have fun amidst gorgeous scenery.
- Upper Uncompahgre River – This trip’s largest rappel is 60 feet, but also involves a 20-foot slide and a waterfall jump of 12 feet. It involves a lot of scrambling, walking, jumping, rappelling, and swimming.
- Oak Creek – Oak Creek holds strong to its largest rappel at 135 feet. It requires some experience, even with a guide. After a hike with beautiful views, you will reach the canyon. After that, it’s easy to enjoy the massive cliff faces and waterfalls.
- Bear Creek – As one of the more challenging of the intermediate canyons, Bear Creek involves a 100-foot rappel and high volumes of water. After a hike to the ravine, take your time to enjoy the most that this canyon has to offer!
- Weehawken Creek – With it’s tallest rappel at 115 feet, this canyoneering trip is challenging to traverse. Although the rappels aren’t as large as others, there are powerful waterfalls throughout the entire ravine. Canyoneers must be experienced.
- Corbett Creek – This canyon involves a 190-foot rappel. Downclimbing and scrambling get you to the end after a hike and breathtaking scenery.
- Cascade Creek – With a whopping 270-foot rappel and many more large rappels, this canyon is home to Cascade Falls. You can easily take a simple hike to the falls, but the fun starts at the very top of the ravine.