Sometimes it’s the roar that you’ll hear first before the trail ends at the waterfall. When you arrive, the cool spray revives you as you catch your breath. Whether you like to hike or bike, are looking for a day trip from town, or camping overnight in the backcountry, these ten captivating Colorado waterfalls are some of the most incredible in the Centennial State.
10. Chipeta Falls, Morrow Point Reservoir, Curecanti National Recreation Area; Gunnison
As one of the more remote waterfalls in the state, Chipeta Falls can most easily be accessed via waterway on the Western Slope’s Morrow Point Reservoir off of Highway 50 between Montrose and Gunnison. The 160-foot cascade drops into the upper section of the reservoir at the edge of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. National Park Service rangers lead hiking and pontoon-boat tours that include the falls from June through September. Visitors will learn about the area geology, history of the native inhabitants, wildlife, and the narrow-gauge railroad that ran along the Gunnison River at the turn of the 20th century.
9. Fish Creek Falls, Routt National Forest; Steamboat Springs
A half-mile concrete and packed dirt pathway leads directly from the parking area to the base of this 280-foot waterfall. If you feel like challenging yourself, extend your trip with a two and a half mile one-way hike to the upper section of the falls. Though Fish Creek flows heaviest in spring as the snow melts, this iconic Steamboat destination is busy throughout the year as it is also a popular ice-climbing spot.
8. Cornet Creek, Uncompahgre National Forest; Telluride
This short quarter-mile hike ends with a spectacular finish at the 80-foot free-falling waterfall. Though beautiful in any season, it’s particularly jaw dropping in early spring as frozen rivulets cascade off the surrounding canyon walls.
7. Horsethief Falls, Pike National Forest; Divide
The trail to this off-the-beaten-path waterfall begins on Highway 67 South about nine miles past Divide. About a half mile from the parking area, the trail splits, leading to the desert-like Pancake Rock formation in one direction and Horsethief Falls in the other. Start early in the day to make time for both sites!
6. Helen Hunt Falls, North Cheyenne Cañon Park; Colorado Springs
From the visitor’s center at the base, climb a short set of stairs to the bridge that crosses on top of the falls. This popular destination secured a spot on our list because of its easy accessibility, the beautiful drive to the base, and gorgeous views from the top.
5. Ingram Falls, Uncompahgre National Forest; Telluride
The road up to Bridal Veil Falls and Ingrams Falls is one of the most popular hiking spots in Telluride—for good reason! Begin your hike at the end of Colorado Avenue, wind your way up the switchbacks and emerge to some of the most picturesque views of the box canyon.
4. Zapata Falls, Sangre de Cristo Mountains; Alamosa
This 25-foot hidden waterfall is the perfect cool-down after a trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Drive 12 miles north on Highway 150 from the town of Alamosa to the Zapata Falls Recreation Area, and hike a half-mile in to the base of the falls. Sunrise is the best time to catch breathtaking views of the Sand Dunes from the parking area!
3. Ouzel Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park; Allenspark
The almost three-mile hike from the Wild Basin Trailhead in the southeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park to the base of 40-foot Ouzel Falls features two other stunning waterfalls along the way, Copeland Falls and Calypso Cascades. Pack in your camping gear and make it an overnight trip by staying at one of the seven backcountry campsites along the trail.
2. Hanging Lake, Glenwood Canyon, White River National Forest; Glenwood Springs
There is good reason for the popularity of this hiking destination: the turquoise pools, hanging vegetation, and multiple waterfalls together create one of the most fascinating and beautiful natural geological sites in the state. Be prepared with proper footwear and hydration for the steep one-mile hike along Dead Horse Creek up to the lake.
1. Bridal Veil Falls, Uncompahgre National Forest; Telluride
These 365-foot falls, the most dramatic of the Colorado waterfalls and the tallest free-falling cascade in Colorado, are steeped in mining history and have become iconic to visitors from all over the world who come to hike, bike, and explore the surrounding wilderness. A privately owned, historic power plant sits atop the falls.