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Ausable Chasm is in New York State, and exists along U.S. 9 and it runs from the area around County Road 373 southwest toward the intersection of U.S. 9 and Chasm Road. It is directly due west of Port Kent, New York and northeast of Keeseville, New York. Ausable Chasm is also the name for a sandstone gorge tourist attraction. The Ausable River runs through it, which then empties into Lake Champlain.

The gorge is about two miles long, and is a minor tourist attraction in the Adirondack region of Upstate New York. It is called by some, the "Grand Canyon of the East", and is fed by Rainbow Falls, at its southern extreme.

The chasm has a continuous exposure of a section of the Potsdam Sandstone more than 520 feet thick, which includes a rare, mid-cambrian jellyfish fossil.

map of NY showing location of Keesville
sign: explore Ausable Chasm
September 4, 2014

There are four trails at Ausable Chasm: The Rim Walk is the easiest; a casual walk on a gentle woodchip path with picnic areas and rain shelters along the way, plus stunning cliff-side vistas and bridges for a bird's -eye-view.

The Inner Sanctum Trail is the intermediate trail through the famous Inner Sanctum of the chasm. It has several flights of stairs throughout the chasm, natural stone walkways and a network of man-made bridges, staircases and vistas, plus riverside views of unique rock formations and geological oddities underneath towering sandstone cliffs. This is the path the two RV Gypsies took.

The Dry Chasm Trail (new in 2011) is more difficult. It features steep, natural terrain and Adirondack wilderness style hiking as it runs parallel to Ausable Chasm, the Little and Big Dry Chasms.

The Adventure Trail is challenging. Adventure seekers are strapped into a harness on a semi-guided course featuring cable traverses, cable bridges, and a cargo net climb and edge walks.  Restrictions for guests apply.

Ausable Chasm entrance
Karen Duquette at the Ausable Chasm entrance

Since 1870, Ausable Chasm has thrilled and amazed many who have come to explore. The two RV Gypsies are blessed to be able to live the lifestyle of RV Gypsies and travel in their RV to witness what Mother Nature has provided here: a uniquely-carved, vertical-walled canyon made of 500 million year old rock! (And all the other amazing places in the USA).

After paying an admission fee and getting a paper bracelet that indicates which tour they have paid for, the two RV Gypsies made their first stop, as directed, at Elephant's Head.

sign about Elephant Head
Elephant head at Ausable Chasm

Then the two RV Gypsies walked across the Route 9 bridge that spans the upper portions of the Chasm.

history bookThe bridge was built in 1925 by Burr M Stark, engineered by C.C. MacCloskey and in 1999 it was added on the National Register of Historic Places. Its purpose was mainly for transportation connecting points north such as Plattsburgh and Montreal to points south such as Albany and New York City. Route 9 was the only major route connecting these population centers as Interstate 87 was yet to be constructed (completed in 1967). Prior to the current Route 9 Bridge was the railroad bridge that served as a means to cross the Ausable River/Chasm on route from Port Kent, NY (3 miles away on Lake Champlain) to Keeseville, NY. The Peanut Railroad was the line that operated on the tracks and was in use for a very short time in the early 1900’s. Remnants of the railroad bridge (foundation) were still visible below the current bridge.

Route 9 bridge and the falls
Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm

It was a bit expensive to get in just to view the falls & chasm and it's even more expensive to take a rafting or tubing trip on the river. There used to be a much better view of these falls from a bridge that crossed the river below the power house, but it was washed out twice in the same year by floods so it was not rebuilt. But this is the first time that the two RV Gypsies have been here, and they liked the views they got. The view from this area was actually a free area by the road.

Ausable River

Rocky Point Vista stands at 150 feet above the chasm floor and provided another view of the Route 9 bridge.

sign about Rocky Point at Ausable Chasm
view of Route 9 bridge

Rocky Point also gave the two RV Gypsies a look at a wild staircase which is only accessed by those on the challenging Adventure Trail described above.

wild staircase at Ausable Chasm

The rope bridge shown below was part of the challenging Adventure Trail; a route that is definitely NOT something the two RV Gypsies wanted to do.

rope suspension bridge
rope suspension bridge

Split-Rock Tension Joint is a smaller fault that crosses the larger "Devil's Oven" fault line of Ausable Chasm. Lateral thrusting weakens the rock and water erosion helps break it away, forming the gorge over thousands of years.

sign about Split-Rock Tension Joint in Ausable Chasm
Split-Rock Tension Joint in Ausable Chasm
Split-Rock Tension Joint in Ausable Chasm

Below: Signs showing the different trails at the 2-mile long Ausable Chasm. The two RV Gypsies chose the Inner Sanctum trail, even though it involved lots of stairs.

trails on the 2-mile long Ausable Chasm
Rim walk and Inner Sanctum trail description

It has only been 9 months since Lee had both his knees replaced, so he still found it easier to go down stairs backwards because that puts less pressure on his knees. Karen paused part way down the stairs to photograph Lee.

Lee Duquette on the stairs

Below: Views from the Inner Sanctum trail.

view from the Inner Sanctum trail
view from the Inner Sanctum trail

The two RV Gypsies tackled the stairs down to an area called the Punch Bowl. And yes, after a brief look there, they had to climb back up the same set of stairs. Anyway, Karen wasn't sure exactly why it is called the Punch Bowl.

Lee Duquette on steep stairs at Ausable Chasm
a scary suspension bridge

The two RV Gypsies studied the suspension bridge, which did not look like an easy bridge to cross, so they did not go on the suspension bridge. They did not see anyone else on it either.

suspension bridge

After viewing Punch Bowl and the suspension bridge, the two RV Gypsies climbed back up the stairs to the nearby area labeled Table Rock. Below is a photo of Karen at Table Rock, and the view behind her is the rope bridge and Punch Bowl area shown above.

Karen Duquette at Table Rock

Below are more views of the Punch Bowl lookout as seen from Table Rock.

the Punch Bowl lookout as seen from Table Rock
the Punch Bowl lookout as seen from Table Rock

Below: Lee Duquette at Table Rock, and the view looking down from Table Rock, away from the Punch Bowl area.

Lee Duquette at Table Rock
the Ausable River

Unfortunately, NONE of the brochures the two RV Gypsies received at the Welcome Center told much about the various formations. The two RV Gypsies would like to know more about Jacob's Well, shown below.

sign: Jacob's Well Jacob's Well

Please continue on to Page 2 of Ausable Chasm - photos have been divided into two pages to allow photos to upload faster, and make your viewing of these pages more enjoyable.