When you think about Colorado, you probably imagine rocky cliffs, rugged wilderness areas, and alpine skiing. Colorado has 78 of the tallest peaks of the Rocky Mountain chain. However, hidden among the boulders and lush greenery, you’ll also find breathtaking Colorado waterfalls.
From the 365-foot giant of Bridal Veil Falls to the hidden gem of Zapata Falls, you must see these beauties at least once. Let’s take a closer look!
How Many Waterfalls Are There in Colorado?
There are 81 named Colorado waterfalls. The highest elevation is Columbine Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park, 11,486 feet above sea level. Trio Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park is at 11,318 feet in height.
Additionally, Macey and Bedrock Falls are also over 11,000 feet above sea level. They are located in the San Isabel National Forest.
Where Are the Biggest Waterfalls in Colorado?
Bridal Veil Falls is the tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado. It cascades 365 feet into a box canyon in Telluride.
The second biggest Colorado waterfall is Fish Creek Falls in Steamboat Springs at 280 feet. The snowmelt in spring makes this a hugely popular area because of the water pouring down Fish Creek Canyon.
Traveler’s Tip: Let your inner prince or princess shine in Colorado by Visiting These Castles in Colorado.
Epic Colorado Waterfalls You Have to See at Least Once
You might think the waterfalls on this list are magnificent because of their size or grandeur, but in actuality, some of these natural wonders are epic because of their simple beauty. Let’s look at ten Colorado waterfalls that will leave you speechless.
Bridal Veil Falls
About: Bridal Veil Falls are the tallest free-falling waterfalls in Colorado at 365 feet. A historic power plant sits at the top of the falls.
You can drive with a 4×4 vehicle, but due to the numerous hikers on the road, many suggest you hike unless you’re unable to make the trek.
Hike to the Falls: Park at the Pandora Mill to begin the 1.2-mile hike to the base of the falls. There’s an 850-foot elevation gain along the walk. The trail is a gravel road that eventually passes a gate where hikers can start additional trails.
Fish Creek Falls
Location: Steamboat Springs
In the winter, this location offers excellent ice climbing opportunities. In the summer, the trails are busy with visitors, so go early to avoid crowds.
Hike to the Falls: A short 0.25-mile walk down a gravel path from the parking lot offers stunning views of the lower falls. For more adventurous hikers, there’s also a moderate hike to Upper Fish Creek Falls and Long Lake.
Location: Pagosa Springs
About: This two-tier waterfall crashes down a rocky cliff, creating a magical experience. It’s in the San Juan National Forest.
Not many people visit this waterfall because of the rough road leading in. Officials recommend high-clearance 4×4 vehicles because of several possible water crossings in the spring.
Hike to the Falls: About 19 miles from Pagosa Springs, you’ll park along Forest Road 667, a dirt road that can quickly flood due to snowmelt in spring.
The tiny parking area is on the left-hand side of the road with an old guard station. The hike from the parking lot is brief (only 0.125-mile) but has a steep elevation gain of about 230 feet.
Location: Colorado Springs
About: Seven Falls is a series of seven waterfalls in a box canyon. It’s 181 feet high, which is why the falls made National Geographic’s list of International Waterfalls. Summer evenings are spectacular as the falls light up at night.
Hike to the Falls: There are 224 steps to the top. Visitors can also take an in-mountain elevator to the Eagles Nest Lookout. At the top of the falls, other trail systems explore different parts of the canyon.
Box Canyon Falls
About: The 85-foot waterfall thunders through the canyon to Ouray’s hot springs. The park also features a bridge overlooking the waterfall, river, and the town of Ouray.
One-hundred-foot rock walls tower over the falls. This is one of the most accessible waterfalls in the state.
Hike to the Falls: Park at the visitor center on Box Canyon Road and follow the signs toward the falls. It’s about a 5-minute walk to the scaffolding overlooking the waterfall.
Visitors can also hike to the top of the waterfall, following the Perimeter Trail that loops Ouray. A bridge offers stunning views of Box Canyon Falls and the town of Ouray.
About: Sitting in Rifle Falls State Park, the falls is a 70-foot triple waterfall. There’s a viewing area behind the waterfalls where you can see them cascading over the rocky cliffs.
Arrive early in the day as the park is crowded, especially in spring and summer. Take time to visit the caves through the state park before leaving.
Hike to the Falls: The walk from the parking lot to the base of the falls is only five minutes. Once at the bottom, there are stairs to the left of the falls if you want to explore the top or head into a few caves. The back side view is stunning.
Location: Manitou Springs
About: With the designation of a historic site in 2016, Rainbow Falls has been crucial to local Native Americans for thousands of years.
The bridge that crosses over the falls dates to the early 20th century. With the local nickname Graffiti Falls, Rainbow Falls plunges 45 feet inside a graffiti-laden canyon.
Hike to the Falls: The bridge links Manitou Avenue to Highway 24. The trailhead is on Serpentine Drive, half a mile from the highway. Parking can be tight so arrive early. The walk to Rainbow Falls is easily accessible.
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
About: At 2.7 miles into their hike, visitors will reach Ouzel Falls, a 40-foot waterfall. A footbridge spans Ouzel Creek to provide stunning views.
The falls (and nearby creek and lake) share a namesake with the water ouzel, a bird that bobs along the rocks around fast-moving streams searching for food.
Hike to the Falls: One of the most extended hikes on this list, the trailhead begins at the Wild Basin Trailhead in the southeastern corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. In addition to Ouzel Falls, hikers will pass Copeland Falls and Calypso Cascades.
Helen Hunt Falls
Location: Colorado Springs
About: In North Cheyenne Cañon Park, Helen Hunt Falls is a 35-foot waterfall. Its name honors Helen Maria Hunt Jackson. You can read about her life, read her poetry, and learn how she was an activist for Native Americans at the Helen Hunt Falls Visitor Center. At the top of the hike, you can also see Silver Cascade Falls.
Hike to the Falls: From the entrance of North Cheyenne Cañon Park, you’ll drive 2.5 miles to the parking area at the base of the falls. You should catch glimpses of the falls during the drive up the canyon.
The hike to see the falls is a very steep but short trail. The 0.5-mile artificial path has over 100 steps into the side of the canyon mountain.
About: One of the most minor waterfalls on this list, Zapata Falls, is only about 25 feet tall. It’s a secluded hidden gem in a cave, giving visitors a respite from the crowded trails of the other waterfalls.
From the parking lot, visitors get stunning views of the Great Sand Dunes against the base of the Sangre de Cristos and the domes of the San Juan mountains.
Hike to the Falls: The waterfall is only 0.25 miles from the parking lot, but the hike is an adventure. You can walk the log bridge to avoid getting wet or wade in the chilly waters to reach the falls.
The Zapata Falls Recreational Area is three miles south of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve entrance.
Traveler’s Tip: Go for a swim in the Blue Lakes in Colorado.
Are Colorado Waterfalls Worth Visiting?
Visitors know Colorado for its stunning natural scenery. From the rocky wilderness of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and the plateaus of Colorado National Monument to the tallest dunes in North America at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado has picturesque landscapes that beckon millions of visitors yearly.
Hidden within these natural wonders are breathtaking waterfalls. Some are remote, while others have high traffic. But regardless of which one you visit, you won’t be disappointed. Choose a few of these Colorado waterfalls to see the next time you venture to the Centennial State.
Which one will you visit first?
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