There are a couple of turnouts. I stopped at the first one–an unofficial parking area, which provided a nice view of the river and canyon walls.
But I didn’t notice the area’s famous historic relic, Hanging Flume, until I stopped at the second, official, parking area.
Hanging Flume is a 7-mile long wooden aqueduct attached to the side of the canyon. The three year project was completed in 1891, and carried water to a nearby hydraulic mining site. The flume carried 23 million gallons of water a day, and even though it’s no longer functional, it’s amazing that after a century, much of the wooden structure still exists.
Keep an eye out for birds catching updrafts, as wind rises from the canyon.
San Miguel River Canyon
From Naturita to Norwood, the byway cuts through mostly flat farmland. There’s not a lot worth stopping for, until you reach the San Miguel River Canyon.
Rte. 145 drops quickly down the side of the canyon to the river’s edge. Several turnouts along the steep grade provide a chance to take in the view.
You will find a couple of picnic areas and a raft launching area after you reach the bottom of the canyon. The river wasn’t very impressive under cloudy skies.
Note: This trip was first published in 2005.