A gulch is a steep sided ravine, typically formed by water erosion or runoff. The sides of a gulch can be made up of rock, soil, or both and can range in size from a few feet to hundreds of miles wide. Many gulches bear the marks of human activity, evidence such as trenches and dams used to divert water.
Gulches are important features in many landscapes; they provide habitat for animals, offer recreational opportunities (including hiking, camping, and rock climbing), and capture and disperse runoff. Because of their shape, they are sometimes difficult to traverse, which can make them dangerous if caution is not taken. They can contain swiftly-flowing water, flash floods, and other hazards.
Gulches can also be an interesting way to explore a landscape. They offer a unique view of the natural terrain, as well as providing a glimpse into the history of how it was shaped by humans. Caves, old homesteads, mines, and archaeological sites can all be found in the depths of some gulches.
Gulches are important features in many landscapes, both from the practical and ecological standpoint and from the recreational and exploratory standpoint. By taking care when exploring them, it is possible to experience the unique beauty and natural history that they contain.