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World Class Canyoning in Ouray

Alpamayo Summit
July 16, 2015
Stoke is High for Upcoming Ice Climbing Season
October 20, 2015

The San Juan Mountains have rugged alpine canyons to explore. Different than the desert sandstone slot canyons of Uath, the canyons in the San Juans are wild with rock diversity, log-jams, high alpine-style mountainous gorges with ferns and raspberries flourishing among the pines. These canyons are rich with adventure and scenic delight. Ouray is home base to several amazing alpine canyons of varying difficulty including: Angel Creek, Portland Creek, Oak Creek, Cascade Creek, Weehawken Creek, Bear Creek, and the Uncompahgre Gorge, just to name a few outstanding descents.

Michael Dallin has written a terrific guide book for the Canyoning in the San Juans Mountains surrounding Ouray titled, Ouray Canyoning, Explorations in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. This book has great photos, route beta, and maps. Ouray has become a destination for canyoning aficionados over the years and is more recently becoming better known for it’s rugged, exciting alpine canyons. This August will be the 6th annual Ouray Canyon Festival in conjunction with the 14th annual Rendezvous International for Canyoneering. We are thrilled that Ouray is hosting this awesome event for people to come together & enjoy the wonderful canyons in our area.

Middle Oak CreekMiddle Oak Creek 2Recently I had the opportunity to descend Middle & Lower Oak Creek Canyon. It was awesome! It is super easy to access directly from town. No cars necessary! This type of adventure really gets me stoked, human powered exploration of very unique places. The only requirements are that you are well practiced at rappelling, you have good rope management skills, and you are up for the adventure.

It is also nice to be properly dressed and rigged for any circumstances that may come your way in the canyon. Myself, I wear polypropylene long underwear type of base layers with a drysuit or dry-top & pants (some people wear wetsuits to insulate) to keep warm while rapping through cold waterfalls.

Essential items are:

  • Ropes, proper length & number of ropes, we recommend Bluewater Rope’s 9.2 Canyon Rope
  • Harness & Helmet
  • Rappel Device
  • VT Prussik or short Prussik Loop for Rappel back-up
  • Purcell Prussik or other personal anchor system
  • Extra cordelette & quicklinks in case you need to make a new anchor or beef one up
  • Shoes with super good rubber/traction, highly recommend 5.10 Canyoneers, 5.10 Stealth Rubber is the ultimate best!
  • Gloves, leather work gloves or similar
  • Backpack

Grande Lower Oak Creek

Oak Creek is easy to get to from town. After a steep 2 mile hike up Oak Creek Trail (left at the trail junction about 1.2 miles up for the middle section) you will come to the creek crossing. This is the start for Middle Oak Creek. There are at least 8 rappels in the middle section, the tallest is about 80 feet. Lower Oak Creeks has about 8 rappels, the tallest is 170 feet, quite exciting! Lots of down climbing, rappelling through waterfalls, and super scenic creek hiking highlight the beauty of this extraordinary place. It is a magically unique space that can only be accessed with the right knowledge and know how to explore safely. We feel lucky to have these canyons right out our back door.

Oak Creek Vista

Oak Creek Vista      Oak Creek Fluvial