Box Canyon Waterfall in Ouray Colorado
Nestled in the San Juan Mountains, just off the “Million Dollar Highway,” lies the picturesque town of Ouray, Colorado. Referred to by some as “America’s Switzerland,” popular attractions such as the Box Canyon Waterfall and the natural mineral hot springs of Ouray provide a few places for day visitors to enjoy the area while many stay for the rugged scenery surrounding the town.
Nearby you will find world class 4×4 trails, breathtaking backcountry mountain passes, sweeping motorcycle roads, ice climbing (during the winter), maintained hiking trails, rafting, kayaking, and more if you get outside the rustic shop lined main street offering everything from breweries to knick-knacks.
Positioned just outside of town on Highway 550, one of the most colorful scenic highways in Colorado, a must-do drive recommend by yours truly if visiting anywhere near southwest Colorado during the fall season. Here you will find aspens and mixed conifer forests adding splashes of yellow, orange, and red hues from the valley flowers to the tundra level below the jagged peaks.
If you can spare an hour on your scenic photography journey take a stop at the Box Canyon Waterfall just outside of town where the mountain stream of Canyon Creek has eroded the limestone mountain producing a 275 foot cascade through the stone outcroppings in it’s path.
If I am passing through on a warm summer day I use the falls as a chance to get underground and cool off with the mist of the creek that blows past when you reach the lower levels of platforms.
Spend as little as thirty minutes on this quick yet spectacular hike, climbing down the iron stairs and across the suspension bridges, following railed walkways into the base of the falls for a bit of tranquility.
The small but powerful Box Canyon Falls offers visitors a chance to lose themselves in their thoughts as the cascade echoes through the canyon, smashing its way down from pool to pool.
With the cliffs lining the lower pools being over 100 feet tall it gives the falls the feeling of a rumbling river making its escape from the inside of a cave.
Boasting one of the easiest visited Black Swift colonies in the nation the Box Canyon offers a rare chance to see these birds darting to and from their nests perched along the cliffs.
When you pay your entry fee at the visitor center you will be informed this is a notable bird viewing location, named one the National Audubon’s Societies bird watching areas, you will find information on the other feathered species of local interest.
Stay and rent a jeep, get off the paved roads and see the alpine tundra just outside the town on engineer pass or simply stay to enjoy the brewery or one of the dozen hotels found here. Ouray offers a few camp sites for those os bikes looking to keep costs down as you set out to explore the rugged backcountry byways of Engineer or Cinnamon Pass or the causal riders looking to take on Red Mountain Pass on one of the more gorgeous paved roads Colorado has to showcase.