The Temple Canyon Park and the roads leading to it offer some wide variation in topography and geology. As part of the area near the Park is called by geologists the “mixing bowl” due to shifting and movement it would be difficult to summarize it all. A few items worth noting are:
- the rock formation that is well known north of Canon City for dinosaurs is present in the Temple Canyon area.
- Spectacular views of the Wet Mountains and the historic Dawson Mining district heading into Temple Canyon
- a volcanic feature along the road heading southwest out of Canon City
- extremely rugged and complex geologic terrain in the Grape Creek area
- the “back road” into the Royal Gorge
- access to Webster Park a broad open mountain valley to the south of the Royal Gorge.
There is obviously a lot that could be done with the geology story and we’re barely scratching the surface so it needs to go on the perpetual “to do” list.
Temple Canyon park where the road crosses Grape Creek is 7.5 miles southwest of Canon City by road from the junction of US Highway 50 and 1st street. The majority of the road is along Fremont County Road 3.
With all the mining occurring in the Wet Mountain Valley in the 1870’s, there was a desire to directly connect Canon City to the Rosita and Silver Cliff communities. The only logical route was along Grape Creek which had been described as a “boisterous and treacherous” stream, one that had washed out wagon roads and later a railroad which ran from 1881-1885. Grape Creek traverses wilderness on its path from Canon City to the Wet Mountain Valley and the only road to cross it along this path is the Temple Canyon Road.
During this construction, workers noticed a natural amphitheater in the canyon which originally was vine covered. This amphitheater would come to be known as a temple and the area would become Temple Canyon. The canyon was a popular destination in the 1890s’s with residents traveling up Grape Creek by foot. The area also has an interesting history related to the Ute Indian’s who were here well before we were!
An act of congress granted Temple Canyon to the City of Canon City in 1912. The road, park, trails, lookout points, and recreational areas are the result of work conducted during the Great Depression by workers under the Works Progress Administration in the late 1930’s.
The Temple Canyon Park includes several hundred acres of land to the south of the Royal Gorge. There is an access road that connects to Temple Canyon Road (Fremont County Road 3) that connects to the Copper Gulch Road on the west. Within the park there is a bathroom and picnic area in more than one location. There is undeveloped trail access along Grape Creek and there are some overlooks developed up above Grape Creek to the east.
The site was nicely set up originally in the 1930’s during the Great Depression by workers in the Works Progress Administration and the City of Canon City has done a good job of maintaining the area on limited budgets.
Maintaining existing facilities is obvious so this must be the top priority. It would also make sense geologically to do one or two interpretive signs in the park area to explain some of the geologic complexities. It would also be interesting to do some historic interpretation at Grape Creek of the old railroad that accessed the Wet Mountain Valley in the 1880’s.