Blue Moon Canyon of Weehawken Creek, Ouray Colorado
This rugged and very wild canyon southwest of Ouray Colorado, accessed from the Camp Bird road that exits right, off of US 550 about a mile south of Ouray, drains the snowmelt and summer rains from Potosi Peak, Mount Ridgeway and Teakettle Mountain. It is a narrow, high, alpine canyon with a stark, rugged beauty that you will not soon forget. Few people venture this way and the sense of wilderness seclusion and remote isolation will overwhelm your physical presence here and make you want to breathe deeply and savor the moment, as Mother Nature makes you realize how small you really are.
Late in the third week of July, 2005, while enjoying a week of 4x4 travels throughout the San Juan Mountains surrounding Ouray and Silverton, Colorado we took a day and hiked up Weehawken Creek to rappel down the face of a waterfall that we had discovered the previous summer. The waterfall is about 90 feet high and drops down a sheer rock face that cannot be scaled by the hiker. We gained access to the top of the waterfall via a circuitous route that had us switch backing up the ridge to the west of the waterfall and then having to again switch back our way down a very steep canyon wall to the creek bed above the water fall. I became pretty nervous about one of the kids tripping and falling on the steep slope so I had everyone stop and we all linked up with a long piece of 1 inch webbing so if someone slipped they wouldn't go too far.
We hiked down to the top of the waterfall and set up our gear for the rappel down the face of the cliff next to the waterfall. Morgan my youngest daughter was first down, as usual, (she refuses to let the boys beat her at anything and always wants to show them up which she usually does!) and we all followed along with me bringing up the rear. We adjusted the rope as needed to allow each person to select the spot where they wanted to go down. Morgan picked the wet route under a small side flow and I went down right beside the main falls, every one else took the easy dry route to the far right of the falls.
What a great afternoon enjoying the rugged beauty of this canyon. We added a lot of time to the hike by the overland route that we took to access the canyon above the waterfall but we stumbled across an old miner's cabin in the process and that was a cool find. Our total hike was about 5 miles.
I have recently done some research on this waterfall and found that there is a lot more to bee seen above the highest point that we hiked that afternoon. The waterfall that we rapped is the lowest of 8 waterfalls that you can rappel down, from an entry into the canyon via the Weehawken Creek Trail that runs up the ridge to the east of the creek. There are also snow tunnels formed from the heavy avalanches that come off of the mountain into the canyon every winter. When spring comes around, the creek melts through the snow forming these tunnels that can last clear into August or September which are the 2 months out of the year that you can access the upper reaches of this canyon.