Canyon Lake Gorge: A Hidden Secret in the Texas Hill Country

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Tony Maples Photography


Canyon Lake Gorge has only recently appeared as a landmark in the Texas Hill Country. Its origin story is one of a dramatic flood that carved in real time a beautiful gorge near Canyon Lake. If you’ve never encountered this natural wonder, make it a point to travel to the gorge on your next trip to Canyon Lake.

Creation of Canyon Lake Gorge

A rivulet in Canyon Lake Gorge

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In 2002, a historic flood overflowed Canyon Lake. The runoff spilled over the dam, an occurrence that hadn’t happened in the 38 years since the dam’s completion. During this event, almost 1.5 times the volume of lake water spilled over the dam, flooding into the Guadalupe River. This flooding lasted for another six weeks, with the water carrying flood debris downstream and blocking the river’s flow. This allowed the force of the water to carve out the gorge, which until then had not existed.

Importance of the Gorge Today

The deep gorge created by the flood showed geologists buried rock of the Hill Country

Photo: Facebook/Canyon Lake Gorge

This gorge not only provides a tourist destination, but it helps geologists study the underlying rock formations of the Texas Hill Country. This flood uncovered layer features geologists once thought formed over thousands of years. Evidence collected from Canyon Lake Gorge helped support theories that megafloods carved out other wide, deep canyons around the world.

How to Explore the Gorge Today

A tour group exploring the Canyon Lake Gorge

Photo: Facebook/Canyon Lake Gorge

For the best look at the gorge, take a guided tour. These are offered most days of the week for only $10 per person. Because these tours take you on a physically demanding trip for three hours, those under seven and with any medical conditions should not go. These tours are the only way the public may access the gorge, but you’ll gain insight into the formation and history of the area while seeing things in the landscape most people miss. Drop by for a tour of this gorge if you have any interest in geology, history, nature, or just landscapes.