Colorado’s Gravity-Defying ‘Hanging Flume’ Is a Sight You Must See
Smart money says you haven't visited this awesome Western Colorado landmark in years. Even if you're a native, it's entirely possible you've never been here. You're past due for a visit.
The overlook at the Hanging Flume between Gateway and Nucla is amazing, to say the least. You couldn't pay me enough to hang off the side of the cliff to build this thing.
What's The Hanging Flume?
You'll find the Hanging Flume 82.3 miles south of Grand Junction. This is a remarkable piece of Colorado's mining history. According to Wikipedia:
The Hanging Flume was an open water chute (known as a flume) built over the Dolores River Canyon in Colorado. The Montrose Placer Mining Company built the flume in the 1880s to facilitate gold mining. Some sections of the flume remain attached to the canyon wall, although much of the wood has vanished.
Interesting Facts About The Hanging Flume
Construction of the Hanging Flume, beginning in 1887, took three years to complete. According to Wikipedia, the task required approximately 24 workers suspended from ropes onto the cliff face.
Materials used consisted of Ponderosa pine, a local tree, supported by iron rods. Upon completion, the flume was approximately 12 miles long and up to 75 feet above the river. It measured six feet wide and four feet deep.
It began on a dam on the San Miguel River above Uravan, Colorado. The flume's opening no longer exists, and the connecting ditch has been filled.
How To Find It
It's entirely possible you've driven past this site before and didn't know it. If you've ever traveled on Highway 141 from Grand Junction, continuing past Gateway, you've probably been here.
The drive is a bit challenging, so you may have been so preoccupied keeping your car on the road you didn't see the overlook. Fortunately, there is a parking area and a sign with information. Still, you'll have to keep your eyes open for it.
Road construction is currently underway (July 3, 2021). Roughly 30 miles of road are in the process of being repaved. On a positive note, the new section of the road is extremely nice.
Doesn't Get The Love It Deserves
I was traveling with three other people on Saturday when we stopped at the flume. Two of us are Grand Junction natives. The other two have lived in Grand Junction for at 50 years each. Even at that, none of us had stopped to look at the flume in over 20 years. One of us had never been there.
Easy Place To Visit
To get there, just turn south on Highway 141 like you're going to Gateway. When you get there, keep going. It would pay you to fuel up at the station near the resort in Gateway. My little SUV burned a quarter of a tank between Grand Junction and the resort. I topped off the tank at Gateway. We continued to Nucla, and then back to Grand Junction. Upon getting back to town, I had less than a quarter of a tank left. In other words, had I not fueled up in Gateway, we would have not made it back without running out of gas. Please note, I was towing a very heavy trailer, and couldn't fill up on the return trip since it was roughly 3:00 in the morning.
Get Away From It All
When making this trip, you'll find yourself about an hour and a half away from anything and everything and anyone. There's not much out there.
If you head to the Hanging Flume, why not make a day of it and continue on to Nucla or Naturita. We had a great time up there.