The Box Canyon Waterfall & Park is Ouray’s natural wonder—formed when the rushing waters of Canyon Creek eroded a deep and narrow box canyon through fault weakened limestone. The park's short trails are easily accessible from the southwest corner of town. You can reach the visitor center and entrance either by car or by foot. The lower trail, an easy 500-feet hike via a walkway and suspension bridge will lead you straight into the belly of the falls. You will be silenced by roaring water as the force of thousands of gallons a minute ricochet off a mix of rugged crags and smoothly eroded pre-Cambrian rock, rushing eighty feet to the canyon’s bottom.
Stop and soak up the beauty of the surrounding forests in one of the numerous sheltered picnic houses situated throughout the park. Some of the gazebos have grills and are perfect for a family gathering or for a peaceful place to get away with friends. Be sure to walk through the Visitor Center and see the interpretive exhibits on the geology, wildlife, rare plant life, and history of the area. From the visitor center, you can also take the short but steep hike to the bridge above the falls and look down on the fury of the water as it plummets into the canyon and, as an added treat, enjoy beautiful views of Ouray. The native plant loop is a short and level trail near the visitor center where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest.
In 2001, this breathtaking park was designated an important bird watching area by the National Audubon Society. It supports one of the state’s largest populations of Black Swifts, a protected species. These birds nest in their preferred habitat— the canyon walls sheltered by overhanging rocks near waterfalls.
The Park is located at the west end of Third Avenue. To reach the entrance to the falls by foot, walk two blocks up the left fork at the end of Third Avenue. At the end of this quarter-mile moderately sloped hill, you will find the entrance to the Park and the Visitor Center. To drive from town, follow Hwy 550 south of Ouray, taking an immediate right onto CR 361 after the first hairpin turn. Follow the signs to the right, going over the Uncompahgre Gorge to the drive-in entrance.
There is a small admission to the Park. Fees are $4.00 for adults, $2.00 for children (5-12 years) and $3.00 for seniors (65+). Summer hours for this must-see park are 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.