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Telluride & Ouray Waterfalls

posted Jul 9, 2018, 5:05 PM by Justin P   [ updated Jul 9, 2018, 5:05 PM ]

Monday, we left Montrose and headed to Telluride.  Driving through the little ski town, we continued east through town and parked before the road required 4WD.  From the parking area, we continued hiking up the road with the occasional jeep passing us.  It was steep heading up, but all switchbacks so not too bad.  A mile up or so, we passed Ingram Creek with a long series of cascades tumbling down.  The sun was shining right on it, so couldn't get a good picture.  The views looking down on Telluride were great.  There was a partial arch on the rock face high above.  After a few more switchbacks, we came to the base of Bridal Veil Falls, the highest single drop in Colorado at more than 300 feet.  The water level was low, but still an impressive waterfall flowing down from the power plant.  A tour guide at the base told us Telluride had poor snow over the winter, bad news for skiing and the waterfalls that rely on snow melt.  After a few pictures, we headed back.  Driving back into Telluride, we parked at Carhenge, a free public parking lot in town.  There are few other parking options, especially during peak season.  But Telluride is a small town and easy to walk around.  We first headed to the north of town to pick up the trail to Cornet Creek Falls.  The trail was short, but surprisingly steep and narrow.  Following Cornet Creek upstream to the Falls, the water makes a tall free fall over bright orange cliffs.  We had a snack here, but it was very crowded so didn't stay long.  Our next hike was to the southeast of town in Bear Creek Preserve.  A two mile trail leads to the waterfall.  It was all uphill, but not too steep as it followed an old road.  Just before the main waterfall, a side trail led down to a nice lower drop.  After a couple pictures, we headed up to the main waterfall.  It was pretty crowded but a very beautiful waterfall.  Downstream from the main drop were some lower cascades.  And some clouds provided decent lighting.  After a break, we headed back down and room the River Walk back to Carhenge.  Done in Telluride, our next stop was Ouray.  First, we swung by Canyoning Colorado to touch base for our adventure tomorrow.  Then we headed to Cascade Falls Park.  Cascade Falls is a big waterfall, just a 5 minute walk from the parking area.  It's possible to canyoneer, finishing up by rappelling down this beast.  I had inquired about this, but normally it's not possible to do until later in the year.  This year however, the low snowfall meant it was already low flow early in the summer.  Our next stop was Box Cañon Falls Park.  Stopping at the office to pay admission, we bought a couple drinks and hiked down the short path to the metal walkway to enter the aptly-named Box Cañon, a very narrow slot canyon.  At the far end was Box Cañon Falls and a metal staircase to go down to the base.  Only the lowest drop was visible from the base and it was tough to get a decent view as big boulders in the creek blocked it.  The best view was probably from about the middle of the staircase where the upper drop was slightly visible.  The canyon was so narrow at this point that the upper drop was almost completely in darkness.  It was getting late and we were getting hungry, but wanted to get one more waterfall.  So we drove south on the Million Dollar Highway about 2 miles for a pull-off at Bear Creek Falls.  This nice waterfall flowed right under the highway and into Uncompaghre River.  The overlook also provided nice views of Mount Abrams and the Uncompaghre River gorge.  After a few pictures, we headed back into town and had dinner at O'Brien's Pub.  Then we checked into our hotel - Hot Springs Inn.  For a motel, it was really nice - huge rooms and clean bathrooms with waterfall shower heads.  The private deck out back provided great views of the mountains and Uncompaghre River.  We hit the outdoor hot tub to relax for a bit and then went to bed.