Top 5 Waterfalls in Colorado

March 10, 2023

waterfalls in Colorado

The Centennial State is home to awe-inspiring mountains, wildflowers and stunning river canyons. It's also filled with cascading waterfalls that take your breath away.

Waterfalls in Colorado are most impressive during the spring season, when snowmelt creates alpine streams that roar over cliffs. Hikers can experience these awe-inspiring natural wonders with one of the many waterfall hikes in Colorado.

Bridal Veil Falls

Located at the end of a box canyon soaring above Telluride, Bridal Veil Falls is Colorado’s largest free falling waterfall. It is a breathtaking sight, particularly when the sun levels in the sky and beams golden hues around its cascades.

For years, hikers had to climb a 4x4 road to get to the base of the waterfalls, but in spring 2020, a new trail opened that eliminated the need for a lengthy drive and made it easier to see Bridal Veil Falls. The new trail is a collaboration between the Telluride Mountain Club, Idarado Mining Company and San Miguel County.

The hike to Bridal Veil Falls is a moderately strenuous 3.4-mile roundtrip that takes you through meadows and up into the forest. Hikers will pass elk and deer along the way.

Box Canyon Falls

If you’re looking for a waterfall in Colorado, you can’t go wrong with Box Canyon Falls. This park tucked in the mountain town of Ouray features a pounding waterfall that feeds the town’s hot springs.

The waterfall, which is a part of the park, plunges 285 feet into a slot canyon with amazing force. There are several trails to explore at Box Canyon Falls, including a metal walkway that spans the canyon directly above the fall.

Another trail is a short hike to a high bridge that straddles the canyon and looks over the falls. The hike can be a bit strenuous, but it’s worth it for the views!

You can also walk through a tunnel on the other side of the high bridge. This is a unique experience that you’ll want to explore if you can! This is a great spot for bird watching, too. It supports one of the state’s largest populations of Black Swifts, which nest in the rocks that protect them from the incoming water.

Hanging Lake

Located in Glenwood Canyon, Hanging Lake is one of Colorado’s most beautiful waterfalls. It’s also a National Natural Landmark.

The lake was formed by a creek, fault line and travertine deposition. The water in the lake has a bright turquoise color during warmer weather.

In winter, the lake and waterfalls are half frozen. These incredible icicles make for a beautiful effect that is definitely worth checking out!

As one of the most popular hiking destinations in the state, Hanging Lake is a beautiful gem. However, this beautiful ecosystem is at risk due to social media and crowding.

To help protect the fragile ecosystem, the area was recently given a new permit system. This helps preserve and protect Hanging Lake so that it can continue to be loved by visitors into the future. The new permit system requires guests to register online and pay a fee of $12 per hiker. This money goes towards maintaining the trail and educating visitors about how to properly enjoy the site.

North Clear Creek Falls

Located just west of Creede and Lake City, Colorado, North Clear Creek Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in the state. It has been featured in National Geographic and many other publications and is a popular place for photographers to capture breathtaking shots of the waterfall.

Visitors can view the falls from an observation area a short drive off of Forest Road 510, part of the Silver Thread Scenic Byway Route. The observation site has restrooms, picnic tables, safety railings and interpretive signs.

The cliffs behind the waterfall are also a nesting site for the rare Black Swift, which is seen around the area from June through August.

North Clear Creek Falls is a great place to get a little exercise and see some of the surrounding mountain scenery. The hike is a moderate 1.2-mile round trip and can be done by families with kids or pets.


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