Searching Brown’s Canyon…

SUBMITTED December 2015

I am e-mailing you the short details of my trip and why I went there based on the clues.  See fit to do what you will the info, but if it someday does lead to the treasure, remember me with fondness!  I don’t plan to go back and just wanted to share it with you.

I traveled and searched for the treasure in Brown’s Canyon Colorado.  Obviously I did not find it, but the clues seem to fit, except for the very end of the poem.  Here is why.

Begin it where warm waters halt.

  • Between Buena Vista and Salida (West of the Arkansas river) lies the Mt. Princeton hot springs.  There is actually a fish hatchery and resort there because of the warm (or hot) waters.  This warm water creek empties into the Arkansas river which is quite cold…”where warm waters halt”.

And take it in the Canyon down.

  • The creek that empties into the Arkansas river lies immediately above the border for Brown’s Canyon, which you have to travel down into.

Not too far, but too far to walk.  Put in below the home of Brown.

  • It isn’t far to drive but would be too far to walk.  In below the home of Brown….Brown’s Canyon.  A double meaning with the name of it and the fact the Arkansas is loaded with Brown trout.  Also, a “put in” is the name for launching (and retrieving) white water rafting boats.  So to put in below the home of brown means you would go white water rafting in the canyon….more on that below.

From there it’s no place for the meek, The end is ever drawing nigh; There’ll be no paddle up your creek, Just heavy loads and water high.

  • The Arkansas river has lots of big rapids…”no place for the meek”.  Just heavy loads and water high”.  Again a reference to white water rafting.

So I narrowed my search area between the “put in” (put in below the home of Brown) at the Hecla Junction campground, and the class four rapid (no place for the meek – heavy loads and water high) called Seidel’s Suckhole.   At Hecla junction boats can be taken out after completing the top portion of the rapids or they can be put in to do the bottom portion.  You can park your car there.  The distance between the put in and Seidel’s suckhole rapid may be a few kilometres and is marked by an unofficial trail beside the river that has been worn in by hikers and fisherman.  Forrest said he parked his car and made two trips in one afternoon to hide the treasure.  An old man would have been able to walk this trail and could have made two trips in one afternoon from his car.  He also said it wasn’t beside an obvious trail.  This one is not an official trail.  To the right of the trail are cliffs and rock formations with a lot of places to hide the treasure and the cliffs are located a bit off the trail so the location would not be obvious, but if you followed the clues and did some searching it would be accessible to find it – but again not obvious.  You have to leave the trail and walk up to the cliffs and search and there are a lot of crevices and boulders it could be placed under.

I could not find “the blaze” (marker) but there were a few interesting marks on the cliffs (including a large arrow head marked onto a cliff in one area) that I searched around without luck.  The part about the cold and in the wood didn’t entirely match up, except for the cold being the river which is extremely cold.  In the wood I thought may have meant a wooded area, but never came across something that would match.

I found this serious enough to take a long weekend trip to this area to try my luck.


Brian  – Windsor, Ontario, Canada

62 thoughts on “Searching Brown’s Canyon…

  1. There are 3 creeks: Little Cottonwood Creek, Middle Cottonwood Creek, & Cottonwood Creek. Unfortunately, they’re almost all completely north of the “canyon entrance.” Technically, the area north could still be called a canyon, however. It’s banks are probably agood 20 to 30 feet high. There are so many hiding places in that area, might be near impossible to find. That being said, I can’t imagine Forrest wanting his bones to rest there. There are a couple smaller waterfalls along the Little Cottonwood Creek & the Middle Cottonwood Creek if you do end up searching that area again.

  2. Hey Brian,

    I love the idea of Browns Canyon and have Googled it extensively… A lot of things fit with this area…

    But, you said…

    “marked by an unofficial trail beside the river that has been worn in by hikers and fisherman. ”

    Wouldn’t that make this a human trail????

    I think Forrest has said there is no human trail nearby the treasure… or something to the such…

  3. Good try, Brian. Sounds like you had a great time. 🙂

    Did anyone see “American Pickers” tonight?
    They had a pop up about Forrest Fenn.
    This may add another few thousand searchers. Ha, ha!

  4. Hey there Brian …

    Did you really drive all the way from Windsor to Colorado? Long drive! I used to live in Waterloo, up the Macdonald-Cartier Fwy (401) from Windsor, when I was working on my Doctorate degree.

    Thanks for posting your solution. Just a couple of thoughts about it.

    Mt. Princeton Hot Springs … I wish I had a dime for all the hot springs in the Rocky Mountains; there must be a billion of them. Trying to figure out which hot springs to search, though, is a task I gave up long ago.

    “This warm water creek empties into the Arkansas river which is quite cold”. I can see how locals might know that. But how would someone reading the poem figure out that the Arkansas R. is “quite cold”?

    Similarly, locals might know that the Arkansas River is populated with brown trout, but again, how would someone just reading the poem know that?

    Why would FF be attracted to this area?

    I too considered this area briefly, but wrote it off because the name “Brown” is just too obvious, in my opinion.

    Cheers, and stay warm. 🙂

    • Chalk Creek that empties into the Arkansas is not warm by any means. There are spots where the water is warm where the Hot springs come to the surface. However, there is nowhere near enough volume of flow into Chalk Creek to make it warm. Ya’ll need to look elsewhere.

        • “This warm water creek empties into the Arkansas river which is quite cold…”where warm waters halt”.” is what the OP said. I am simply stating that Chalk Creek is NOT warm. Chalk Creek is approximately the same temperature as the Arkansas River. And I am not new to the chase, I just don’t post much.

    • I was just reading about both q`s you asked the snow pack is where this water comes from ,quit cold , and also, read that brown trout are mostly in the river in this area . So with a bit of reading one can find this info. and no I am not from this area . I`m N.E. of Denver . just started reading about this again and found this area a good choice as well . I do think it is some where in this location, some other reasons I think this

  5. You can google all of your questions and you can find temps on anything in any state if you know where and who to google and ask. There are tons of info out there, you just have to work at it.

  6. Great jod Brian. That’s the only way you can narrow it down. If people only new how helpful posting their search areas would be then theTC would for sure be found. But we live in America and the one thing Americans have in common is “GREED”. Otherwise we could have FF shaking in his boots if ifwe all worked it out together and shsred the Treasure. I just want it so that someone doesn’t take it for the cost of gold and jewels. We have to save the HISTORICAL VALUE of the Chest more than the financial value.
    Good Luck on your next search. I’ve got my spot and am ready to go..

  7. Have you narrowed the search area for the treasure?
    Yes, I said the treasure is hidden in the Rocky Mountains at least 8 miles north of Santa Fe, excluding Utah, Idaho, and Canada. I have said it is above 5000’ and below 10,200.

    You told P* that, considering some of the lengths people have gone searching for the treasure, your story has turned into a monster.
    I did not expect the story to get as big as it has, nor did I expect a few searchers to go to such great lengths in the hunt.

    You’ve said repeatedly that the treasure isn’t in a dangerous place, and searchers shouldn’t look anywhere you couldn’t have gone.
    That is true. There is no percentage in searching where a 79, or 80 year old man could not carry the treasure.

  8. Thanks for sharing your search Brian. From Windsor eh? Last time I was in Windsor I was on Robin Seymour’s dance show but I bet you are too young to remember that. Oh, how I miss those Motown tunes…

  9. Mr.forrest said look at the big picture.we can,t see the forest for the trees.take ,wood,its a ,its a to do alot of that poem over and over until you get it or your wasting your time on getting the chest. But on the other hand having a good time in the great outdoors,forest also.just my ideas.

  10. I have searched this area many times; I love going in there. I have walked both sides of the river both up and down stream from Hecla Junction. Walking along the old railroad ROW looking into the river for fish and watching all the fishing people, and looking for blazes along the way. This section of Browns Canyon is now a National Monument. It is a beautiful rugged place. The gold mining history in this area is fairly well documented. You find old campsites/cabin remains in several places. Also, one could start at Gardner (above Buena Vista) and walk down stream along the river canyon looking for blazes. I’ve found a couple and know where I will continue my search next time. Thank you, sir, for the challenge and memories.

  11. Brian I enjoyed reading your post. I rarely post anything these days but i had to respond when I read what you posted. I have lost many hrs of sleep over the area you speak of and enjoyed every minute of it (Thank you Forrest !). Don’t give up on this area. BTW i reside in Denver if you ever need a pair of boots on the ground.

  12. Howdy, I missed Mr Fenn’s last interview, I think it was Nov.??? I’ve looked over this site and can’t seem to find it. Likely right in plain site. I’d appreciate if someone could point me in the right direction. Thx

  13. It seems to me that your “solve” is a forced fit. If not, please enlighten me in regard to my questions.

    Q1. Browns Canyon has fairly major rapids (5 deaths this season)! I’ve rafted them many times and a few approach class 4! Are you saying that Fenn wants people to take their families down the rapids?

    Q2. Getting down the canyon you talk about driving and walking, but “Put in” suggests that a person is in some kind of water craft. So why do you mention driving?

    Q3. You talk about “Below the home of Brown” being trout. But isn’t it true that animal names are NOT capitalized except in special cases? I don’t think brown trout is a special case so “Put in below the home of Brown” must mean something else.

    Q4. If the Arkansas is filled with brown trout, how does one know where below the home of Brown is? One spot would be as good as any other.

    Q5. “Put in” meaning “launch white water rafting boats”, isn’t that a slang term? I couldn’t find that in any dictionary. I don’t think Fenn would use slang for clues.

    Q6. It sounds like you have two starting points 1) where the creek enters the river and 2) Hecla Junction! Why two?

    Q7. Regarding the Arkansas and big rapids, doesn’t “lots of big rapids” happen only certain times of the year? Most of the year the water is slow and low, a troop of Brownies from Omaha could run them! I don’t believe Fenn made his clues to be seasonal.

    Q8. Why is Hecla Junction a good “below the home of Brown” spot?

    Q9. You talk about “a lot of crevices and boulders it could be placed under.” Doesn’t the hiding place have to be big enough to hold a body plus treasure as per “As I have gone alone in there …”

    • Dennis has found a lot of holes, but hasn’t found the answer. I personally think Brian could be on the right track. The poem is cryptic, if the answers were filled with logic and absolutes then the treasure would have been found, possibly by you? 🙂 It’s the adventure and exploration that creates the thrill which captivates us all. I think of a put in as a ramp, regardless of the watercraft being launched whether boat or kayak. Just have fun searching and let people dream and interpret the poem in a way that leads them on their hunt. Cheers.

  14. Brian, Good Work. Don’t listen to Dennis, I think he might want to keep people out of his back yard (no competition) . If you can think of anything else let us know. I plan to visit that area after the Fennboree

  15. Brian, your search makes sense. Did you notice the Pinon Trail on the map near the rearing unit? I read something in one of the blog posts about him accidentally mentioned pinons. Was retracing your steps and thought it funny anyways.

  16. Hi Brian, thanks for your post. I totally understand your feelings that you won’t be coming back to Brown’s, don’t be so sure. I visit this area regularly and I know at least one other searcher who commented above does as well. Dennis is interested too, sounds like he’s been here before and knows it well. How can you answer his questions when they are all about his opinions? I will try to help. Here’s what I think, all IMO.
    Q1:Forrest has repeatedly stated that the objective is to get families to get out and enjoy nature, so yeah maybe so.
    Q2: Put in is commonly used to refer to rafting or fishing boat launch sites. You assume it is a directive rather than a place.
    Q3: So the hoB would be above or upstream from the boat launch…I don’t think it’s trout either, and I do have an answer for hoB that I won’t share just now.
    Q4: Redundant, but he does mention a fish hatchery.
    Q5: The proper term may be a boat launch, but if you have rafted often surely you would hear the guides refer to the starting boat launch as a put in and the ending point as the take out. Also IMO Forrest speaks almost exclusively in slang or colloquialisms so why not in the clues too?
    Q6: I thought the starting point was Princeton hot springs. Hecla Junction was start of his search area.
    Q7: So class four Rapids that cause five deaths in one season doesn’t equate to no place for the meek? I don’t follow your logic.
    Q8: As stated clearly by Brian it is where the boat launch or put in is located.
    Q9: If “there” is Browns Canyon then no. He would be a tiny dot in a huge landscape covered in hidey holes big enough for a body and a chest.

    There is a whole lot more to this location too. There are a lot of coincidences which may just add up to something worthwhile.

  17. Anyone have any updates? Where specifically does the search start? Do we just get to Hecla Junction and start wandering? I thought that the poem was supposed to give us an even more specific search area/location than arriving at HJ and looking around.

    • I’m sure some searchers have different starting points, but one starting point might be where Chalk Creek empties into the Arkansas. Aside from the search, if you’re in the area, there is a spot a little ways east of there within the Nat Monument area that has a tremendous view.
      Not sure how to post a pic on here, so apologize in advance.

      The coordinates are: N 38 45′ 54″ W 106 0′ 24″

  18. 10,500 ft isn’t an arbitrary number, I think the Arkansas River is definitely the right track because its source is Leadville with exactly that elevation. Begin it where warm waters halt would refer to the fact that the city is partially heated by underground rivers that are warm but cool off when they hit open air, and then home of brown would be Brown’s Canyon, Brown’s creek, or any notorious fishing spot for Brown trout. Maybe the blaze refers to St. Elmo’s ghost town (St. Elmo’s fire), just spitballing here and looking for feedback, planning on making my first trip once I’ve made more headway into the poem.

  19. Hey Brian, I dont know if you still check in on this thread but I’m from London, Ontario and heading to Colorado at the end of this month. You may be surprised that my solve is very close to your area. Shoot me an email, maybe we can discuss some things.

  20. Loved reading this, I love within a threasonable hour drive from the area you visited, I have often thought about making a trip that way eventually. My biggest concerns are that it seems to be a heavily populated area for tourists. If FF was able to make two trips alone, without being seen by anyone I feel like the area the TC is in has to be a little more off the grid. I could easily be wrong. I’m pretty new to this and am planning my first hunt in a week here in colorado only more south towards NM. I will probably make my way up to Browns Canyon eventually though.

  21. Standing along the riverside below Hecla Junction with my daughter, searching below a rock that looks eerily like an Olympic torch…..

  22. In support of Hecla Junction being “below the home of Brown,” there used to be a mining camp called Brownsville where Browns Creek empties into the Arkansas River three miles upstream.


    “Begin it where warm waters halt”
    Google Maps shows a “Browns Canyon Warm Spring” that drains into the Arkansas River at Hecla Junction.
    “And take it in the canyon down”
    Nothing ambiguous there.
    “Not far, but too far to walk.”
    Wade, then, to get to the not-far spot.
    “Put in below the home of Brown.”
    “Brownsville” was the name of a mining camp three miles upstream where Browns Creek flows into the Arkansas.
    “From there it’s no place for the meek,”
    Seidel’s Suckhole, anyone? People get killed rafting the river.
    “The end is drawing ever nigh;”
    An old meaning of “nigh” is “to the left.”
    “There’ll be no paddle up your creek,”
    On your left, a fifth of a mile down and across the river from Hecla Junction, is a dry wash coming down from the mountains. No paddle up that, either dry or during a flash flood.
    “Just heavy loads and water high.”
    Going up the dry wash takes you under the old railroad (“heavy loads”). Also, during high water on the Arkansas and flash floods down the wash, water backs up behind the rail line.
    “If you’ve been wise…”
    From the dry stream looking back toward Hecla Junction, one can see Mount Princeton (named for the University) – does one acquire wisdom from education? Perhaps Mr. Fenn meant to keep this mountain in view while searching.
    “…and found the blaze”
    High on the cliff to the right of the dry stream, there are a couple of charred-looking trees, probably hit by lightning.
    “Look quickly down, your quest to cease…”
    So look at the base of the cliff.
    “So hear me all and listen good,
    Your effort will be worth the cold.”
    Confirmation that we’re to wade the Arkansas, which is cold any time of year.
    “If you are brave and in the wood”
    A stump? A downed log? In the hollow of a tree? – there are two dead trees at the base of the cliff, and a pile of dead branches at their base.
    “I give you title to the gold.”

    My wife and I pieced together this solution, aided by several clues apart from the poem:
    Fenn said his wife didn’t miss him on the day he hid his treasure. That suggests the hiding spot is within a half-day’s drive of Santa Fe, less however much time it took to hide it. Hecla Junction is a four-mile drive away.
    Fenn said the treasure is hidden where he would like his own bones to rest. There’s a lovely spot at the base of the cliff, under some trees, at the edge of the high-water mark.
    Fenn referred to the treasure as being wet. Unlikely he would want his bones in an actual river, but maybe at the edge of a backwater.
    When Fenn announced the treasure was between 5,000 and 10,000 feet in elevation, he initially slipped and said 7,000 feet before correcting himself. That may have been a Freudian slip. Hecla Junction is at 7,385.

    Guided by these clues, in early September of 2016, my wife and I waded the Arkansas a fifth of a mile below Hecla Junction, and explored the area at the base of the cliff to the right of the dry wash (clearly visible on Google Maps / Earth). We looked under the brush and trees, looked for hollows in the trees, turned over dead wood on the ground, ran a metal detector over the area. Also climbed up the cliff a short ways to look in hidey-places behind the rocks, and followed both the major dry wash and a tiny one at the base of the cliff looking for hiding places.

    We didn’t probe the thick brush closer to the tracks, because it looked like an unattractive grave site and a place for rattlesnakes to lurk where we couldn’t see them.

    At the end of a fruitless day of searching, we consoled ourselves with a dip in the deep, slow section of the Arkansas a few hundred yards further down.

    Some other possible interpretations of the poem’s clues:
    “If you’ve been wise” – could this be a play on words? Maybe he’s hinting at walking through sage (“wise”) brush.
    “…and found the blaze” – again, maybe a play on words; this could refer to an ash tree.
    “tarry scant” –there’s a Tarryall Creek in Colorado. Maybe “tarry scant” is a minor tributary of it.

    Evan Owen

      “Hecla Junction is a four-mile drive away” should read “four-HOUR drive away” from Santa Fe.

      Any way to edit our posts once they’re up?

      • Evan-

        That area you speak of is called Railroad Gulch. Railroad = “heavy loads”, and “waters high” = Gulch (when the waters run high). I have also looked into that area as a possible spot. That area had a the Calumet Railroad running through it. It was either washed out or removed. There are still parts of the railroad in that area. Here are some other thoughts. Could “tarry” refer to any railroad ties left in the area? They are covered in tar to help preserve them. The box could be placed somewhere in or near those ties or structures (“in the wood”). Also, that could explain “in the wood”. The box is covered with a black resin, which would camouflage it with the tarry wood.

        My final thought refers to “the blaze”. Forrest references seems to reference “the blaze” in his book. He mentions that the best way to find an enemy gun turret is to look for the blaze of gun fire. Look on a map just up Railroad Gulch. You’ll see the small ghost town of Turret. Hmmm.

        Just me thinking out loud and wishing could be out searching.

        • Sorry for my choppy writing. I was just a little excited that someone was on the exact same page as me. We are thinking way too alike. I wish we could edit our posts, as well. Mine makes me sound like a blubbering idiot. Sorry about that!

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