Springtime in Colorado is coming, and these warmer days have us itching to get out our hiking boots and enjoy all that Colorado has to offer. Spring also means melting snow, which makes our already glorious waterfalls truly a breathtaking sight to see. Here is a round up of 7 of our favorite waterfalls to hike, bike, and drive to!
At 365 feet Bridal Veil Falls is the tallest free falling waterfall in Colorado, and it’s spectacular views make it well worth the steep trek to get there. Though you can walk or bike up the entire trail the switchbacks are best traveled with a 4WD vehicle and driving up isn’t for the faint of heart. Your perseverance will be rewarded with sweeping vistas of Telluride Valley and the falls themselves.
Hanging Lake is one of Colorado’s gems, and so beloved it was named a National Natural landmark in 2011. This is a short but steep and rocky hike with amazing dazzling scenery to enjoy - waterfalls, verdant and lush surroundings, and bright green water. While you are here make sure to take the detour to see the spouting rock. This trail is popular so get an early start to ensure you can find a parking space, and remember: swimming is not allowed due to the fragile ecosystem!
Directions: Take Exit 125 when Eastbound on I-70 from Glenwood Springs. The Hanging Lake trail is located about 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs.
Zapata Falls is a must see in any season but is most popular in spring and summer when the heat drives visitors to explore cooler and shadier hikes. Enjoy stunning views of The Great Sand Dunes, the Sangre de Cristo and the San Juan mountains from the trailhead. Then hike just under a half mile to the oasis of a 30 foot secluded waterfall and enjoy the peace and quiet. Whatever you do, come prepared to get wet as reaching the falls means hiking in the water and climbing over slippery rocks.
Directions: Zapata Falls is approximately three miles south of the Great Sand Dunes National Park entrance. From the town of Alamosa, take Hwy. 150 about 12 miles north of the intersection with Hwy. 160.
For a slightly less punishing but still beautiful waterfall try Helen Hunt Falls. Named for Helen Hunt Jackson, a noted 19th Century Author and Social activist, Helen Hunt Falls is located in North Cheyenne Cañon Park. There are a variety of trails for every level of hiker - the view can be enjoyed from the base of the falls or the very photogenic bridge across the top. It’s a great free option for anyone in Colorado Springs who doesn’t want to brave the crowds and the cost of Seven Falls.
Directions: From I-25 take exit 140, and go south on Tejon Street. Take a slight right onto Cheyenne Boulevard. The entrance to the park is located at the intersection of Cheyenne Boulevard, South Cheyenne Canyon Road, Evans Avenue and North Cheyenne Canyon Road.
From the entrance of North Cheyenne Cañon Park, drive approximately 2.5 miles up the canyon on North Cheyenne Canyon Road to the parking area at the base of the falls.
This might just be the most beautiful and most photographed waterfall in Colorado! North Clear Creek Falls is a stunning waterfall that flows 100 feet down into a deep canyon. The view is unforgettable, and best of all there is no hike needed to enjoy the sights! To make the most of you time pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic with your views.
Directions: Travel West on State Highway 149 for 26 miles from the town of Creede, Colorado. Turn right and go southeast for 1/2 mile to the Overlook.
Contrary to popular belief, Rainbow Falls was not named for the colorful graffiti that covers the rocks around it. This colorful artwork does set it apart from the other waterfalls on our list though! Neglected for years, Rainbow Falls was designated a historic site in 2016 and is now undergoing a clean up effort. The falls themselves are one of the best in the state and are a great place to bring family who want to frolic in the water.
Directions: Located just under Hwy 24 on the western exit of Manitou Springs on the business district.
Ouray, known as the Switzerland of America, is one of our favorite mountain towns in Colorado. Home to several hot springs, it also boasts the natural wonder of Box Canyon Falls. These falls are impressive with a thousand gallons of water a minute rushing down with thunderous force. The best part is this hike can be reached easily from downtown Ouray by walking or driving. Bird watchers take note: Box Canyon has been designated an important bird area by the National Audubon Society and is the site of important research on Black Swifts - so bring a snack and your binoculars and settle in for some serious birding!
Directions: Box Canyon Falls is located at the west end of Third Avenue. By foot: Walk two blocks up the left fork at the end of Third Avenue. The entrance of the part and the visitor center is about a quarter mile up the hill. To drive: follow Hwy 550 south of Ouray, taking a right onto CR 361 after the turn.