East Vail Falls, Colorado

In June 2020, when we were still figuring out what to do with Covid, my husband and I decided to drive from Las Vegas to Michigan. We planned our path to see some waterfalls in nearly every state we travelled through.

East Vail Falls in June 2020

Most waterfalls were planned, but East Vail Falls was a bonus waterfall. As we were driving along I-70, I think I was looking at Google Maps and noticed that there was a waterfall near Vail. In Colorado, I assume there are more waterfalls than are advertised because of the terrain. I read that the waterfall in Vail was relatively simple to get to, but required parking in a special place.

From the I-70 exit, I followed the directions on Google Maps, and it indeed did lead us to East Vail Falls, which was much taller than I expected. While landowners in the area don’t mind walking to view the falls, they do request that there is no parking directly in front of the falls, so we turned around and parked in area along Gore Creek. It’s about 1/4 mile hike (one-way) from that parking area to the falls, and it’s all on paved, flat road.

If you want to get a closer look, you do have to walk uphill, but it’s not required to view the falls. The falls are tall enough that the best views may come from the road, especially if you have a camera lens that can zoom in. If you’re driving along I-70 and need a break, this is definitely a fun stop.


  1. This one is pretty easy if you’re along the right path. If you’re driving along I-70 and heading through Vail (really East Vail), take Exit 180.
  2. Turn on Big Horn Road and head south. You will be driving adjacent to Gore Creek.
  3. Look for the Gore Valley Trail parking, which will be near the intersection of Big Horn Road and Bridge Road. You can park here, though there is also a lot of parking nearby. Park somewhere around here, though, and then walk to the falls.
  4. To walk to the falls, cross Gore Creek over Bridge Road.
  5. Turn left onto Lupine Drive and walk to the East Vail Falls trailhead. I don’t include walking closer on the trail to view the falls in the distance below.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~200′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Where in the World is East Vail Falls?


Rifle Falls, Colorado

In June, I went on a road trip (social distancing style) from Las Vegas to Michigan. The first waterfall stop on the trip was Lower Calf Creek Falls. The next stop was in Colorado. The waterfalls we visited had to be easy to get to from the main freeways and also had to be shorter hikes. Rifle Falls fits into both of those categories.

From the parking area, it was an easy hike to Rifle Falls, a fascinating waterfall. A sign near the falls says the waterfall likely formed when minerals built up around a beaver dam (or something of that sort). I don’t know if I’ve stopped at any other falls that may have been formed that way. At the falls, there are multiple different viewpoints. It is one of those that definitely changes as you’re looking at it from the sides versus head-on, and that makes it fun to photograph. It’s definitely a waterfall that’s worth a stop if you’re along I-70 in Colorado.


  1. We were headed east through Colorado along I-70 and took exit 87 before Rifle.
  2. We then turned left onto US-6, which follows I-70 into Rifle. Before entering Rifle, we turned left onto CO-13.
  3. CO-13 skirts Rifle and then just north of Rifle, we turned right onto CO-325 heading north.
  4. Rifle Falls State Park is on CO-325, but you veer right and then left before arriving. When you reach the Rifle Gap Reservoir, you veer right, and then when CO-325 splits with Road 226, you veer left again. It’s pretty hard to miss Rifle Falls State Park if you stay on CO-325.
  5. From the parking area, you head north to see Rifle Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (Easy)

Height: 70′

Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Rifle Falls in June 2020

Sunshine Falls, Colorado

Sunshine Falls (6)

Sunshine Falls in May 2017

Sunshine Falls was an unexpected waterfall that I didn’t even know about. I was visiting Colorado after a workshop and had decided to go to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. After that visit, I was headed back to Denver, and decided to visit Cañon City and the Royal Gorge. There is a train that takes you on a two hour journey into the Gorge (and along the Arkansas River). This allows for some great views of the Royal Gorge Bridge and the scenery along the Arkansas River and through the Gorge is stunning.

So I was bit surprised when a tour guide mentioned there was a waterfall in the canyon. I rushed out of the train car I was in to get a better view. They mentioned the name of the falls is Sunshine Falls, at least that’s what I wrote down! It had been raining that day, and even then, there wasn’t much water flowing down the falls. But it was fun to add an unexpected waterfall to the record. If anywhere else, I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit the falls, but in this instance, the trip through the Gorge is definitely worth it! (There is another waterfall, Tunnel Drive Falls, that is nearby. Even that didn’t have much water flowing over the falls, but it again was an enjoyable hike that allowed for different views of the start of the gorge.)


  1. In this case, unless you’re planning on rafting down the river, the best option to view the falls is on the train. The train station is located at 330 Royal Gorge Blvd, Cañon City, CO 81212. It is right off of US-50 as it passes through Cañon City.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 25′
Length of Hike: not applicable

Where in the World is Sunshine Falls?

Tunnel Drive Falls, Colorado


Tunnel Drive Falls barely flowing in May 2017

I’m going to write about this waterfall even though it may seem like there’s not much there. I think it’s because of its location. You probably won’t be expecting to find a waterfall there, so if you do, it will at least be interesting. It also helps the hike to the falls is beautiful in itself.

If you’re visiting Cañon City, it’s likely because of the of the Royal Gorge, which is honestly beautiful. Take the train ride through the gorge. It’s worth it, and you might see another seasonal waterfall, Sunshine Falls. If you want a different view of the gorge (or one that’s less busy), head to the Tunnel Drive Trail. This trail quickly climbs uphill so that you’re walking into the gorge. At the right time of day, you would see the train heading in or out.

It just so happens that when it’s raining enough, there are some ephemeral waterfalls that pop up. It did happen to be raining on the day I was there or I wouldn’t have attempted to find these falls. The designated trail is approximately 2 miles one-way and it’s mostly level after the initial climb. You pass through a number of interesting tunnels along the way. I didn’t have much to go off in finding the falls, so I would suggest focusing on your right side as you approach the 2 mile marker. If I remember correctly, the falls were before this marker. The one page I could find, which has a better picture of the falls (found here), mentioned the falls could be found after the second bridge, which did seem to be correct.


  1. Along US-50 west of the Royal Gorge Railroad, you’ll find the intersection of Tunnel Drive and US-50. Turn onto Tunnel Drive. (If you’re headed west, it will be a left turn.)
  2. Head to the end of Tunnel Drive. You’ll find the trailhead there. (Google Maps makes it look like the road continues to the falls, but it ends earlier than what’s on Google Maps.)
  3. Start your hike, which does include an uphill climb at first.

Accessibility: 7/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Height: ~40-50′
Length of Hike: 4 miles round-trip

Cherry Creek Falls, Colorado

There are a few different waterfalls outside of Denver. One of the easiest to get to is probably Cherry Creek Falls. It’s south of Denver in Castlewood Canyon State Park. There are two different entrances into the park. One is off of CO-83, and this can lead you to Cherry Creek Falls. It’s a longer hike to the falls than the second option, though on a nice day it would be a great way to explore the canyon.

Today, the weather was a little bit iffier…While there weren’t terrible storms, there was still some lightning off in the distance. I decided to drive to the other entrance, which leads to a shorter hike to the falls. The second entrance is off of CO-86 on Castlewood Canyon Road.

I ended up parking at the Westside Trailhead parking area. There may be another parking area a bit further along that will get you a bit closer to the falls. Even so, I really didn’t walk very far to get to the falls. I started at the Westside Trailhead and then connected into the Creek Bottom Trail. It’s about a 0.5 mile hike round-trip to the falls.

The best view of the falls is from the Creek Bottom Trail. Oddly enough, you won’t be at the creek bottom, as that could be rather dangerous. There is a faint trail that leads to the top of the falls, but you’re not going to get a very good view, and I wouldn’t recommend it. The falls are taller than they appear, as you can’t get extremely close.


  1. From the intersection of CO-83 and CO-86, head west on CO-86.
  2. After a short distance (about half a mile), turn left on to Castlewood Canyon Road.
  3. Drive on Castlewood Canyon Road to the entrance of the state park. Drive until you reach the Westside Trailhead. You can also possibly drive a bit further, though I don’t know what parking area it would be.
  4. Whatever trailhead you start at, you want to connect into the Creek Bottom Trail. You’d want to head southwest on this trail.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 15-20′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip


Cherry Creek Falls in May 2017

Where in the World is Cherry Creek Falls?

Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado

There are (at least) two different Bridal Veil Falls in Colorado.  One of them is considered to be the tallest waterfall in Colorado.  The one I’m featuring here is not.  For starters, I did not even know its name for about 3 years.  I just called it I-70 falls, since it was directly off of I-70 in Idaho Springs, Colorado.  As I was searching for other falls just last year, I stumbled upon Bridal Veil Falls, which I quickly realized was a waterfall that I had seen before.

I’m not sure how easy it is to get up close to the falls.  We were driving west along I-70, and stopped in Idaho Springs.  I noticed the falls from across the interstate!  It was almost impossible to avoid getting the fence with the falls, but oh well.  In August, the falls weren’t flowing very intensely.  There is probably more water in early spring.  I’ve also seem some pictures of frozen ice falls during the winter.  This is by no means a falls I’d seek out, but if you’re headed toward Rocky Mountain National Park and you’re passing through Idaho Springs, hunt for Bridal Veil Falls.


  1. Well…head west on I-70 through Idaho Springs.  If you stop in a parking area relatively near the freeway, you will likely be able to see the falls. (There does now seem to be a trail that will lead you the water wheel and the falls.)

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 60′
Length of Hike: not applicable/roadside

Bridal Veil Falls in August 2009

Where in the World is Bridal Veil Falls?

Berthoud Pass Falls, Colorado

Berthoud Pass Falls in August 2009

As I’m driving higher and higher in elevation toward Rocky Mountain National Park, I keep thinking there should be some waterfalls somewhere! We’re talking about 10,000′ feet here, and there’s enough elevation change to expect a few along the roadside! Well, there were one or two of them, and I’ve called the easiest to visit Berthoud Pass Falls.

Berthoud Pass Falls is found as your going through the Berthoud Pass, which might be obvious. The pass is found along US-40 after exiting I-70 going toward Winter Park/Fraser, which continues on into Rocky Mountain National Park. There is a pull-off near the highest point which I think is really meant for the awesome views of the valleys far, far below. If you look ahead, you’ll notice a creek cascading down a hill, and this is where the falls (maybe should cascade) are found. In the summer months, others will also likely be exploring the area.  It is a truly beautiful sight early in the day. The wildflowers were exploding along the creek in mid-August. Even if the falls aren’t the most unique, it’s still definitely worth a stop for the overall ambiance.


  1. If you’re driving along I-70 past Idaho Springs, this can be found along US-40.
  2. Take the exit for US-40, which starts heading north toward Winter Park and Fraser, continuing on to Granby and Rocky Mountain National Park.
  3. I’m not exactly sure how far it is to Berthoud Pass, but I believe there’s a sign, and the turnoff is relatively obvious.  You will have been heading uphill for a ways as you come along the area.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 30′ (possibly more)
Length of Hike: not applicable/roadside

Where in the World is Berthoud Pass Falls?

Unnamed Falls #2, Rocky Mountain NP, Colorado

As you’re hiking to Ouzel Falls from the Wild Basin trailhead, you will pass multiple named waterfalls including Upper and Lower Copeland Falls and Calypso Casacades. In between those falls, you can actually find multiple other drops along the river. Some of the drops are probably not significant enough to be recognized, while others are actually rather large. At this specific drop, the river narrows quickly, forcing the water through a very small path, creating an impressive force. The only view of the falls is from above, which can photographing it difficult.


  1. Drive north on CO-7 past Allenspark. A few miles after passing Allenspark, you will see an entrance for Rocky Mountain National Park indicating the Wild Basin Trailhead. Turn left here.
  2. Drive down the road for a very short distance to the park entrance. You can pay the entrance fee here.
  3. Drive down the rather narrow dirt road to the very end. This will be the parking area for the Wild Basin Trailhead. It may be advisable to arrive early in the summer, as the parking area only has 20-25 parking spaces.
  4. From the parking area, begin walking on the Wild Basin Trail. This falls will be past Copeland Falls, but I think it is before Calypso Cascades.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: 2.0 miles round-trip (to this falls)

Unnamed Falls on Copeland River in Rocky Mountain NP (August 2009)

Where in the World is Unnamed Falls #2?

Calypso Cascades, Colorado

Calypso Cascades in August 2009

At the Wild Basin Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park, you can access a number of waterfalls.  The first few, Lower and Upper Copeland Falls, are not extremely exciting.  There are a number of other unnamed falls along the river that are cool, though sometimes hard to view.

The Calypso Cascades are further along the trail, and this is the first impressive falls you’ll see.  This set of cascades is something like 100′ tall.  It’s hard to sense that from the picture since the falls are relatively deep.  It was a little bit difficult to photograph the falls due to the sunlight, but it’s still an impressive and photogenic waterfall, and a photogenic hike in general.  After continuing on, you can visit the very impressive Ouzel Falls.


  1. Drive north on CO-7 past Allenspark. A few miles after passing Allenspark, you will see an entrance for Rocky Mountain National Park indicating the Wild Basin Trailhead. Turn left here.
  2. Drive down the road for a very short distance to the park entrance. You can pay the entrance fee here.
  3. Drive down the rather narrow dirt road to the very end. This will be the parking area for the Wild Basin Trailhead. It may be advisable to arrive early in the summer, as the parking area only has 20-25 parking spaces.
  4. From the parking area, begin walking on the Wild Basin Trail. You’ll pass Lower Copeland, Upper Copeland, on your way to Calypso Cascades.  Ouzel Falls is found further along the trail.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: ~100′
Length of Hike: 3.6 miles round-trip (to these Cascades)

Where in the World is Calypso Cascades?

Upper Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado

Now this waterfall isn’t officially named Upper Helen Hunt Falls, but it seems pretty appropriate.  When we visited Helen Hunt Falls near Colorado Springs last year, we walked along the trail above the falls.  As we were walking along, we noticed that there were a number of drops above Helen Hunt Falls.  Some of them were not considerably large, but there were one or two drops that were larger.  They are not advertised, but they are pretty obvious.  I’ve decided to clump these together as Upper Helen Hunt Falls.  They’re just another added benefit of visiting Helen Hunt Falls, where you can also see the very cool Silver Cascade Falls and a great view of Colorado Springs.


  1. Take the Nevada exit from I-25 in Colorado Springs.
  2. Take Nevada Rd. south until you reach Cheyenne Boulevard. Head west on Cheyenne Blvd.
  3. The road will fork. Follow the sign for Helen Hunt Falls, which will be the right fork. From there the parking area will be a short distance from that fork on your left
  4. At the parking area, there will be the visitor’s center, and Helen Hunt Falls is just to the left of the visitor’s center.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Upper Helen Hunt Falls in August 2009

Where in the World is Upper Helen Hunt Falls?