Plein Air: Canyon Lake Gorge

Cliffs at the Canyon Lake Gorge (near New Bruanfels), 6x9ish, acrylic on paper
Cliffs at the Canyon Lake Gorge (near New Bruanfels), 6x9ish, acrylic on paper

After painting at the popular Cypress Bend Park last time, I was out to seek a place where nobody knew about. A place of solitude and quiet. Canyon Lake is about 20 minutes from New Braunfels with pristine water so clear it’s noted as a favorite spot for scuba divers. It’s surrounded by private land and parks (people), but I spotted an area on Google Earth that was off the path from “Overlook Park” called Canyon Lake Gorge. No roads led to it that I could see, so I figured I could walk along the lakeside to get to it and explore the area.

The walk along the lakeside to the gorge
The walk along the lakeside to the gorge

Just the walk along the lakeside was amazing! The shore line is a curvy, undulating 10 to 15 foot limestone cliff along ultra clear water with an emerald green tint. Huge boulders line a little dirt path barely visible. I will definitely be going back here as a place to paint and swim!  After following the side for a while, I saw a clearing up top about 20 feet up and scrambled over the boulders to find a huge flat expanse 2 football fields wide and about a half mile deep surrounded by cliffs on both sides. I  hit the gold mine! However, lined every 50 feet along the edge was a “No Trespassing” sign that explained it was federal property, but you could view the area with a guided tour. ARRG! What the heck! It looks incredible and I can only window shop the views. “)#(&%#)(&!.”. I wouldn’t have it. In silent rebellion, I put up my easel right at the sign post and found a view. Guided tour? All the park areas around this lake, and this is the one spot for a guided tour? What’s the story here? (I later found out and it’s unbelievable. I’ll take the tour).

A cliff at the entrance to the gorge from the lake.
A cliff at the entrance to the gorge from the lake.

This is a view of a cliff along the entrance of the gorge showing layers of limestone and trees catching any water along the sides and top. I had a rough time sketching from the start. Perhaps a mild case of bad attitude. Saying to myself, “Think positive. It is a great cliff and nobody is around.”. Right then I heard a kid and looked up along the rim of the cliff. It lines the overlook!! People were looking out at the area and straight at me. “What’s he doing, mom?”. ARRG! I heard every conversation of every passerby for three hours. The best was a guy boasting pretentiously to a pretty woman about how he’d scuba dived the area like a pro. Her response, “That’s nice (annoyed).”. End of conversation. Ha.  I could feel his ego fall right off that cliff. Nice one lady!

When I got home, I looked online to find out what the story was about the gorge. There was a story all right! It was a brand new area, carved out by flood of 2002. About 30″ fell within a few weeks, and the power of all that water carved out this area. It unearthed everything from dinosaur tracks to waterfalls and lagoons formed from the Trinity Aquifer. A Gorge Preservation Society quickly formed to preserve it (and make money). Here’s a link to their site: Maybe I can volunteer to maintain it and get permission to paint there?? Hope so.

Artist Chat: 

Never go into a sketch in silent rebellion and a bad attitude. Case closed.


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