If you’re headed to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, you’ll pass a sign on the right side of the approaching road that indicates a trailhead for Zapata Falls. A detour overlooked by many visitors, a rocky 3-mile uphill drive will take you to a short trail that leads to one of the coolest, most-accessible waterfall experiences in Colorado.

Photo Credit: Stephen Martin, OutThere Colorado.

At a height of roughly 25 feet, Zapata Falls is found at the end of a creek bed inside a small slot canyon. With a water flow that drops into a small cove, the fall is quite picturesque.

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A look at the scale of the canyon that leads to Zapata Falls. Photo Credit: Stephen Martin, OutThere Colorado.

The path to the falls is both wet and rocky. If you’re visiting, wear shoes with a good grip that can get wet. Keep in mind that sometimes the water flow is too strong for the average hiker to access a line of sight to the waterfall drop. Wearing additional traction attachables is also recommended.

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Editor of OutThere Colorado, Sophie Goodman, hops across rocks that lead to the waterfall. Photo Credit: Stephen Martin; OutThere Colorado.

The hike to the falls is short, roughly half a mile from the trailhead parking lot.

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The trail that leads to Zapata Falls. Photo Credit: Stephen Martin, OutThere Colorado

While we recommend visiting the falls during the warmer months of the year, this is also a beautiful destination to visit during the winter. The falls freeze. If you visit in May like we did, you might still catch a little bit of the ice hanging around.



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