15 Amazing Waterfalls in Colorado

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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The State of Colorado in the West of the USA has a small population, just around 5 million, but it is huge in terms of attractions.

Its diversity is easy to see – arid desert, lovely river canyons and the Rocky Mountains.

Wherever there are mountains, there is fast-flowing water with rapids and waterfalls.

Colorado has some beautiful waterfalls which add to the enjoyment of hikers who love to walk the trails as soon as the winter snow recedes.

There is plenty of snow all year round, but in spring, the snowmelt results in particularly impressive waterfalls.

If you want to see for yourself, here are 15 Amazing Waterfalls in Colorado you will thoroughly enjoy.

1. Adrenaline Falls, Durango

Adrenaline Falls, DurangoSource: ulriksen / shutterstock
Adrenaline Falls, Durango

Many know about these mysterious falls but few know how to find them.

The best way is to talk to someone from Durango in the hope they will give you directions; they regard the falls as very precious and do not wish them to be spoilt in any way.

There are several stories relating to the falls and if you visit you must be certain to take all traces of your visit away with you.

So, your challenge is to do some research and talk to a sympathetic local.

Durango has other nearby falls but this is the one you should really try to see.

2. North Clear Creek Falls, Lake City

North Clear Creek Falls, Lake CitySource: B Norris / shutterstock
North Clear Creek Falls, Lake City

As soon as you leave your car, you will hear the water, and after a few steps, you are there.

The snows clear during April, but once they are gone, there are good visitor facilities which open up, restrooms and picnic tables.

The falls are rarely busy and you must keep your eyes open for the signs for the Forest Road off the Silver Thread Scenic Byway.

It is just a short distance down the road.

The setting is a cascade of water between willow trees which falls into a box canyon.

3. Box Canyon Falls, Ouray

Box Canyon Falls, OuraySource: Kris Wiktor / shutterstock
Box Canyon Falls, Ouray

The Box Canyon Waterfall – an impressive 285 feet – was formed as rushing water – Canyon Creek – eroded a deep box canyon in the soft limestone.

The trail to the waterfall has easy access from the town.

The visitor center opens in May and an easy 500-feet hike over a bridge takes you straight to the falls.

Thousands of gallons of water fall each minute over a mix of rugged crags and smooth rock to the canyon’s floor.

There is a staircase that allows you to look at the waterfall, top to bottom.

4. Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle

Rifle Falls State Park, ColoradoSource: Jeremy Janus Photography / shutterstock
Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

These falls are effectively three-in-one.

Three separate cascades of a similar size, over 70 feet, fall from limestone cliffs into a pool below.

On a hot day, there is nothing better than feeling their spray.

Water has created several small caves to explore and hiking is suitable for absolute beginners.

Camping facilities are excellent, with 20 locations within the park.

As well as hiking, visitors enjoy birdwatching, the flora and fauna, and fishing.

It is a great place for a family trip from late spring onwards.

5. Hanging Lake Colorado, Glenwood Springs

Hanging Lake Colorado, Glenwood SpringsSource: Yingna Cai / shutterstock
Hanging Lake Colorado, Glenwood Springs

Hanging Lake is a beautiful sight, teal-green water below mountains and replenished by crystal-clear waters falling over the rock faces.

It is not the height of the waterfalls that is impressive but the number of cascades of water, which vary by season.

It is a tranquil place that even the sound of falling water does not interrupt.

You have an uphill hike to get to the lake – certainly more than a couple of hours – but the effort is certainly worth it because you will have some great photographs to show your friends.

Unfortunately, swimming is not permitted.

6. Treasure Falls, Pagosa Springs

Treasure Falls, Pagosa SpringsSource: Isaac Brown / shutterstock
Treasure Falls, Pagosa Springs

If you are driving along Highway 160 from South Fork on the way to Pagosa Springs, you will be able to see Treasure Falls.

It is certainly worth stopping to get a closer look if you have time.

You’ll find Treasure Falls at the foot of Wolf Creek Pass and can access it along a hiking trail.

The water drops from 105 feet into Falls Creek to ultimately reach the San Juan River.

The name comes from the legend that the mountain contains gold, which French invaders found in this Spanish territory in the late 18th century but only 2 of 300 returned to tell the tale.

7. Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs

Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado SpringsSource: Danny Fyffe / shutterstock
Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs

Helen Hunt Falls in North Cheyenne Canon Park are fairly close to the parking lot.

The trail goes on to a second falls known as Silver Falls.

Because of its proximity to Colorado Springs, and because it is a beautiful setting, Helen Hunt Falls are fairly popular.

Visitors come from late spring onwards, with the snowmelt meaning they are in full flood.

There is a visitor center with videos and exhibits as well as a gift shop.

Your dog is welcome if under your control and make sure you wear comfortable footwear.

8. Seven Falls, Colorado Springs

Seven Falls, Colorado SpringsSource: ramolemon / shutterstock
Seven Falls, Colorado Springs

If you don’t want to hike up the 224 steps beside the Seven Falls, take the elevator.

The drop is 181 feet in different segments and the views from the top over Colorado Springs and the surrounding area are spectacular.

It was included in National Geographic’s list of waterfalls and some suggest it is the best piece of scenery in a very scenic state.

They are lit at night in the summer and the Eagle’s Nest Lookout is a great place to take it all in.

A restaurant is a fairly recent addition to the site.

9. Soldier Canyon Falls, Lory State Park

Soldier Canyon Falls, Lory State ParkSource: Lory State Park- Colorado Parks & Wildlife / Facebook
Soldier Canyon Falls, Lory State Park

You will hear the water before you see it because the falls are just a couple of minutes from the beginning of the trail.

Cottonwood trees surround you as you walk.

Fort Collins is less than half an hour away so it is an interesting hike.

The State Park has as many as 20 different trails but you must make sure you see the falls if you are spending a day there.

The waterfall is seasonal; in common with others in the state, the best time to visit is late spring.

10. Fish Creek Falls, Steamboat Springs

Fish Creek Falls, Steamboat SpringsSource: Caleb Westering / shutterstock
Fish Creek Falls, Steamboat Springs

Another on a list of impressive Colorado waterfalls is Fish Creek Falls, which are 280 feet high.

Not far from the town of Steamboat Springs, they attract significant numbers of visitors once the summer season opens.

During the winter, ice climbers test their skills by trying to ascend the frozen cascade.

Hikers enjoy the summer trails that others enjoy in snowshoes in the winter.

Trails were established many years ago and now it seems people are enjoying them all twelve months of the year.

11. Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride

Bridal Veil Falls, TellurideSource: Jeremy Janus Photography / shutterstock
Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride

Bridal Veil Falls are at the end of Telluride’s box canyon.

If you look up, you will see the highest waterfall in Colorado, measuring 365 feet.

You can get closer if you have a 4×4 but the views from the base are stunning in themselves.

Above the falls, hikers will find a number of interesting trails and there is an old power station there; it belonged to Smuggler Union Hydroelectric who provided power for a nearby mine.

Later, it was home to a Telluride resident who sold power to the town, but now it belongs to Idarado Mining Company.

12. East Vail Falls, East Vail

East Vail Falls, East VailSource: DrewRichPhotography / shutterstock
East Vail Falls, East Vail

When you are driving along the I-70 near Vail, you cannot miss seeing cascades of water coming down the canyon walls near the town.

Towards the end of spring, the waters are especially impressive.

The town bought a small parcel of land a few years ago to protect its waterfall.

You can drive to that parcel – on which there is no development – to see the waterfall up close.

You are not allowed to park, so you must keep moving.

There is a hiking trail but you must park your car elsewhere.

13. Boulder Falls, Boulder

Boulder Falls, BoulderSource: Faina Gurevich / shutterstock
Boulder Falls, Boulder

Boulder Falls have been a popular tourist destination since the 1800’s.

Some of the trails closed a few years ago after serious floods and things have only just got back to normal, they are busy once more.

It is worth getting there early in the day if you want a parking spot.

There are warning signs to stick to the designated trails which stress that climbing is not permitted.

Some of the rocks to the left of the falls near the viewing area are now being retained by wiring, so there are some issues.

14. Zapata Falls, Alamosa

Zapata Falls, AlamosaSource: Andrew Repp / shutterstock
Zapata Falls, Alamosa

Zapata Falls are found along a fairly exposed trail below the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The route continues to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

You will hear the water before you see the falls – a 40-foot cascade hidden in San Luis Valley.

There is a half-mile climb to reach the falls, including crossing the creek with its slippery rocks.

However, once you are in the recreation area, you have views right across the whole valley.

Camping is permitted, so this is a lovely spot for a day or two, even more.

15. Ouzel Falls, Estes Park

Ouzel Falls, Estes ParkSource: Colin D. Young / shutterstock
Ouzel Falls, Estes Park

Once you are inside Rocky Mountain National Park, you will pass some small falls before actually reaching Ouzel Falls.

They are 40-feet high, just a narrow cascade of water falling between the rocks into a pool below.

You are already at 8,500 feet before the start of the 5.4-mile loop to see the falls, and your climb takes you almost another 1,000 feet upwards.

Some people enjoy their snowshoes in the winter, but the spring season brings families enjoying picnics, hikers, cyclists as well as horse riders.

15 Amazing Waterfalls in Colorado:

  • Adrenaline Falls, Durango
  • North Clear Creek Falls, Lake City
  • Box Canyon Falls, Ouray
  • Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle
  • Hanging Lake Colorado, Glenwood Springs
  • Treasure Falls, Pagosa Springs
  • Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs
  • Seven Falls, Colorado Springs
  • Soldier Canyon Falls, Lory State Park
  • Fish Creek Falls, Steamboat Springs
  • Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride
  • East Vail Falls, East Vail
  • Boulder Falls, Boulder
  • Zapata Falls, Alamosa
  • Ouzel Falls, Estes Park