Top 10 Waterfalls in Colorado

Published on September 6th, 2021

Most outdoorsy adventurers already know that Colorful Colorado deserves a spot near the top of the to-travel-to list. But along with snow-capped mountain peaks, meandering alpine meadows, swift-flowing rivers and all the rest of what Colorado has to offer, it’s also got some absolutely stunning waterfalls — perfect for giving any visitor some much-needed perspective.

Top 10 Waterfalls in Colorado

1. Fish Creek Falls

2. Timberline Falls

3. Ribbon Falls

4. Ouzel Falls

5. Hanging Lake

6. Seven Falls

7. Box Canyon Falls

8. Bridal Veil Falls

9. North Clear Creek Falls

10. Zapata Falls

Visiting Waterfalls in Colorado

Although there are many to choose from, here are 10 Colorado waterfalls we put on our can’t-miss list every time we go — and what it takes to get to them!

1. Fish Creek Falls

A bridge over the river at Fish Creek Falls, Colorado.

Located just outside of Steamboat Springs, Fish Creek Falls is all too often overlooked by those who only visit this charming Colorado town when it’s time to hit the slopes for winter skiing — although it’s totally possible to snowshoe the trail to the fall during the winter, if you’re brave enough! While the falls themselves are readily accessed via a viewpoint just a short walk from the parking area (which also offers restrooms), there’s a nice long trail to meander along for those hoping to get some exercise: in just under five round-trip miles, you’ll climb about 1,500 feet in elevation gain, sometimes over steep and slippery terrain. In sum, this waterfall truly has it all — you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the view, or make it into a tough outdoor adventure!

Things to do near Fish Creek Falls: Although Steamboat Springs may be best known as a winter destination, it’s got plenty of charm to offer in the summertime, too. The Yampa River Botanic Park is a great place to while away an afternoon with gentle strolling. There is also a fascinating defunct uranium mine just to the northeast of the falls, which is accessible via a relatively short and gentle hiking trail. Here are some local RVshare rentals to consider.

2. Timberline Falls

Timberline Falls, summer time in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA, a popular waterfall hike

The vast expanse of Rocky Mountain National Park has many, many waterfalls to its name — but for adventurers who want an iconic, not-easily-reached RMNP experience, Timberline Falls is a great one. Found on the way to the gorgeous and well-photographed Sky Pond, Timberline Falls is found along the Icy Brook just below where the Lake of Glass feeds into The Loch below. In fact, to reach your eventual destination of Sky Pond, you’ll almost certainly have to get wet with some of its spray as you climb the rocks that constitute this gorgeous cascade’s backdrop.

Things to do near Timberline Falls: Located right in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, the trailhead a mere 45 minutes from Estes Park including traffic, this beautiful waterfall is simultaneously away from it all and close enough to the park gate to make into a day trip, if you’re in good enough shape for it. Plus, there are some excellent RVshare rentals and campgrounds in the area to ensure you’re well rested enough to take it on!

3. Ribbon Falls

Ribbon Falls Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado waterfall

A short enough ways away from Timberline Falls that you can reach it from the same trailhead, Ribbon Falls offers a different sort of Rocky Mountain National Park scenery. This rock-slide style waterfall wends its way down along Glacier Creek, gently caressing the many boulders and stones that make up its backdrop along the way. Just above the falls, Black Lake is the perfect place to stop for a well-deserved lunch break — at about 10 miles round trip and over 1,600 feet of elevation gain, this trail is demanding, although it does reward those with enough gumption to get it done.

Things to do near Ribbon Falls: Again, although it’s a fairly strenuous, deep woods hike, the trailhead that gets you there is only a little more than a half hour outside of Estes Park, and perhaps two hours outside of Denver depending on traffic. There are some great nearby RVshare rentals and campgrounds to consider, as well as the whole of Rocky Mountain National Park to explore!

4. Ouzel Falls

Mist and spray come off Ouzel Falls during high Spring runoff in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park, Allenspark, Colorado.

Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful hikes not only in RMNP, but in the entire state of Colorado, Ouzel Falls stands out from the rest thanks to its incredibly lush surroundings: the walk to this waterfall will have you feeling as if you entered a children’s fairytale book, surrounded by butterflies, flowers, tall tress and other luscious greenery. The most direct route is by Wild Basin Trail, which sees a little more than a thousand feet in elevation gain over the course of almost six round-trip miles — which is to say, you’ll sweat a bit, but if you’re in decent shape, it shouldn’t be too bad. Those looking for a longer and more strenuous adventure can continue on to Ouzel Lake above, or loop the trail to include numerous other attractions in the area… but even if you just head to the falls, you’ll be swept off your feet by the beauty.

Things to do near Ouzel Falls: Although tucked into a fairly remote part of Rocky Mountain National Park, the trailhead to get to Ouzel Falls is only about half an hour from Estes Park and just over an hour outside of Boulder, making it an excellent option for city dwellers looking to get away from it all. Here are some RVshare rentals and campgrounds in the area to consider if you’re looking for somewhere to call home base!

5. Hanging Lake

Tranquil scene of Hanging Lake Waterfall, Colorado, USA

Famous for its emerald-colored waters and multiple cascades, Hanging Lake is a one-of-a-kind natural attraction: less waterfall than wonderland. It truly seems as though a lake hangs above the Colorado River below, gently spilling over the lip in a series of beautiful waterfalls that are more green than blue. Exposed tree roots complete the illusion, making for a one-of-a-kind, absolutely must-see Colorado destination — and one so popular that reservations are required to visit. As far as getting there, you can choose from a shuttle bus or a fairly steep hiking trail; either option will lead to stunning viewpoints and Instagram-worthy snapshots.

Things to do near Hanging Lake: Nestled into the vast wildernesses that make up west-central Colorado, Hanging Lake is approximately equidistant from Grand Junction and Denver — and not particularly close to either. But probably the whole point of coming out to such a location is to get away from it all, right? If so, you’re in luck: a wide variety of state parks (including nearby Rifle Falls as well as Harvey Gap and Sylvan Lake) awaits, and there are some great RVshare rentals in the area to choose from.

6. Seven Falls

seven falls in Colorado

Looking for a set of urban waterfalls with every inch of the majesty these deep-woods ones have to offer? Seven Falls, located just outside of Colorado Springs, is the perfect fit. Cascading a cumulative 181 feet through a gorgeous red-rock canyon over a series of seven waterfall segments (you can see how it got its name, right?), Seven Falls is outfitted with staircases and handrails to make exploring this unique geological formation as easy as possible, though it will of course still take some sweat unless you take it quite slow! There’s a restaurant right nearby with full view of the falls, as well, in case you’d rather sit back and relax while you take in the spectacle.

Things to do near Seven Falls: Although easily accessible and relatively urban, Seven Falls perfectly represents the way Colorado Springs combines city life and easy backwoods access: it’s tucked into the edge of a vaster wilderness with more rugged adventures available for those who want to take them, such as Cheyenne Mountain State Park and the 12-mile, 7,400-foot climb to the top of Pikes Peak. (Fortunately, you can also choose to simply drive up it.) Here are some local RVshare rentals and campgrounds to consider!

7. Box Canyon Falls

Canyon Creek exits the steep gorge of Box Canyon Falls near Ouray, Colorado.

Although small, the mountain town of Ouray packs a big punch when it comes to uniquely Colorado must-sees — and Box Canyon Falls is the perfect example. Originally founded as a mining camp and a key part of the establishment of what is the ongoing community of Ouray today, Box Canyon contains a roaring 285-foot fall that tumbles through the carved stone slot of its namesake canyon. The site has been outfitted with stairs, a suspension bridge, and a developed trail that make it easy to see this one-of-a-kind sight from a variety of angles.

Things to do near Box Canyon Falls: Known as a vacation destination across Colorado and beyond, Ouray has plenty to offer in the way of spas, boutiques, breweries, and more — and that’s not counting the endless outdoor activity opportunities that surround it. If you’re tough, you’ll want to tackle one of the nearby “14ers,” like Mount Sneffels. There are plenty of tamer hikes available in the shadows of those mountains, too. Here are some local RVshare rentals to call home!

8. Bridal Veil Falls

By User:Terry Foote, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35906600

If there’s one waterfall on this list you’ve already heard of, we’re willing to bet it’s Bridal Veil Falls — and for good reason. At 365 feet, this is the tallest free-falling cascade in the state. It’s located a short drive away from the well-known and beloved town of Telluride, which is perhaps best known as a ski resort, but has plenty to offer in the off-season, too (see: a warm, snow-free hike to these incredible falls, which is especially nice since the trail is pretty steep). Visitors can also take a look at the Bridal Veil Power Station, which has historically harnessed this waterfall’s immense power to help bring electricity to the local area.

Things to do near Bridal Veil Falls: Many other hikes dot this gorgeous landscape, which is all only 15 minutes outside of downtown Telluride, where you’ll find great coffee shops, breweries, stores, and everything else you need as far as vacation resources are concerned. Gorgeous mountains stand sentinel on all sides; good thing you’ve got plenty of RVshare rentals to call home in their midst!

9. North Clear Creek Falls

North Clear Creek Falls colorado
Image via fs.usda.gov

Nestled into the part of south-central Colorado where the dense woods of the Rockies slowly dissolve into the desert, North Clear Creek Falls is a unique cascade surrounded by desert scenery. Tumbling more than 100 feet from the source to the waters below along a gorgeous backdrop of rocky cliff, this waterfall doesn’t require a long, arduous hike to get to; rather, visitors can simply pull up, park their car, and walk about five minutes along well-developed paths to the viewpoint — talk about the perfect place for a picnic.

Things to do near North Clear Creek Falls: Nearby North Creek Clear Campground is a great place to spend a night or two, whether you’re in a tent or RVshare rental — and there are so many other gorgeous mountains and wilderness landscapes in this area to explore. The closest big-ish city is South Fork, which is about an hour east of the falls.

10. Zapata Falls

Exploring Zapata Falls, Colorado

Last but certainly not least, Zapata Falls is one of the most unique cascades not only in Colorado, but in the entire United States, if not the world. Pouring zig-zag through a sheltered, narrow rocky canyon called a crevasse, this waterfall requires a little bit of fancy footwork to get to, but the trail is short and easy enough that even brave and agile kids can do it. Be warned, though, that the water is frigid year-round, and this fast-flowing stream is not a place to swim (though you may need to wade a bit to get to the best viewpoints). If you are brave enough to tackle this hike in the winter, you’ll find the falls frozen solid into a larger-than-life ice sculpture.

Things to do near Zapata Falls: Located in the twin shadows of Blanca Peak and Mount Lindsey, this southwestern Colorado attraction is fairly far off the beaten path, though close enough to towns like Alamosa and Trinidad to get all your needs met. Here are some local RVshare rentals to consider for the big adventure!

Planning an RV Trip to Colorado

Waterfalls are just the cherry on top of what is already a sundae: visiting Colorado! If there was ever a state that warranted an RV trip, this is it.

Fortunately, we’ve got all the best peer-to-peer RV rentals available in Colorado, as well as guides to its best state parks and campgrounds. We’ve written guides to its big cities, as well — and, of course, its many national parks:

The rest is up to you… so get out there and start the adventure!

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