If you’re anything like me then life is just better when you’re by the water. It doesn’t matter if it’s the ocean, a lake or a river, being by the water brings a sense of peace and perspective. Having lived in Colorado my whole life I’ve been around a few lakes but as I’ve become a more avid hiker I can’t seem to get enough of the waterfalls I come across. The best ones are always deep on the trail far away from the bulk of people where it takes some effort to get to. While not all the waterfalls that will take your breath away are far and hard to get to, they’re the ones that mean the most. Whether you’ll looking for a hard hike or just a quick trip to reconnect with nature I’ve got 3 waterfall hikes you don’t want to miss.
Rocky Mountain National Park Wild Basin Trail
This amazing hike in the national park has 2 great waterfalls to see along the way. And if you’re really looking for a trip, follow the trail to the end to a silent lake that few make it to. The first waterfall down the trail is Calypso Cascades (3.5 miles round trip). This hillside waterfall washes over rocks and trees creating an amazing sight to see. A bridge crosses over it so that you can get a head-on look at the falls feeling the power wash around you. Another mile or so down the trail (5.2 miles round trip) you’ll find Ouzel Falls. It’s a little bit off trail but it’s majestic. If you want to recapture the image below beware that the rocks are very slick and the water is extremely cold and you will get wet.
Rifle, Colorado has some great camping grounds and beautiful lakes but Rifle falls is by far one of the best attractions there. Just .10 miles from the parking lot you walk into a whole new world. Rifle Falls feels more like something you should find in Hawaii than in Colorado. You can get views of the falls from all angles, front, and center, above and behind. And behind the falls are amazing caves that you can explore and crawl through (make sure you bring your headlamp). If you like shooting, there’s also a free shooting range just down the road where I shot my first gun and got my first bullseye, in the same day!
Just outside of my hometown in Conifer, Colorado you’ll find Staunton state park. A park I didn’t know existed until a few weeks ago. This amazing state park is home to elk falls. A 12ish mile there an back hike with two vantage points of a 30-foot waterfall. You can hike 5 miles in to get to the base of the falls and another 1 mile to look across the valley at it from up above. You’ll also find some very friendly chipmunks at the top. While it’s a bit of a long hike with some decent elevation gain, every view is spectacular. And if you can arrange to see the sunset or sunrise from up above I got to believe it’s worth it. The view I saw could only be made more amazing by some golden light.
No matter what level of adventure you’re looking for there’s a waterfall hike for you. And getting close to that source of water will do your spirit some good.