Hanging Flume Overlook

Hanging Flume Overlook. Photo Credit: Stewart M Green – OutThere Colorado.

The Hanging Flume Overlook on the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Scenic Byway is a dramatic viewpoint perched on the edge of the Dolores River Canyon. Below the overlook is the most complete section of the Hanging Flume, an engineering marvel built in the late 1880s to transport water for placer gold mining. Over 25 men built the flume over three years, attaching iron brackets to cliff walls and building the wooden flume box. The 12-mile-long flume, as high as 75 feet above the river, was only used for three years since the gold was too fine to be recovered. The dramatic overlook, alongside Highway 141 about 14 miles north of Naturita, peers into the deep canyon as well as into Colorado’s rich mining heritage. The Hanging Flume is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Pro Tips

  • You can see other remaining sections of the deteriorating Hanging Flume along Colorado Highway 141. The flume started as an earthen canal near mile marker 75.7 at the old site of Uravan on the San Miguel River. At the junction of CO 141 and Y11 Road, follow Y11 for 1.7, 2.1, 3.1, and 3.7 miles to see parts of the Flume attached to cliffs. At 4.4 miles Y11 reaches the confluence of the Dolores and San Miguel rivers. Turn around and drive back to CO 141.
  • When you’re back on CO 141 at the junction with Y11, go left of 141 and drive 1.8, 2.3, and 3.4 miles for more Flume points of interest. A burro painted on a rock wall at mile 2.3 was done in the early 1900s as tribute to the burros who worked the flume. Mile 3.4 is Windy Point, and overlook above the river confluence below. An ox-cart trail here threaded down through cliffs to supply the Flume workers.
  • North of the Hanging Flume Overlook are a few more important historic sites to check out. Drive north on Highway 141 from the overlook to mile 7 from the junction with Y11 Road to a coke oven and the spot where the Flume exited the canyon to the placer claim. At 7.4 miles is the Bancroft Claim placer site with rows of rocks and gravel that were mined for placer gold.
  • The 133-mile-long Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Scenic Byway crosses the edge of the Colorado Plateau in far western Colorado. The scenic route, following Colorado 141 from Placerville to Whitewater, explores the canyons of the San Miguel and Dolores River, and strange Unaweep Canyon. Allow three to six hours to leisurely drive the entire route and discover its scenic overlooks and natural wonders.
  • Recommended season(s): Year-round.

    —Stewart M. Green

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