Alberta Falls, Colorado

Alberta Falls in August 2009

Alberta Falls is one of the best waterfalls to visit in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is one of the easier waterfalls to visit in the park, and it is one of the more visually appealing. The hike to the falls is very beautiful as you walk through forests of pines and aspens. You’ll see some amazing mountain scenery along the way. The trip is only about 1 mile one-way, which is shorter than many of the other waterfall hikes in the park.

Getting to the trailhead may be the most complicated part. The parking area directly adjacent to the trailhead is often full very early in the morning. Therefore, the best place to park is earlier along on Bear Lake Rd. There will be signs indicating whether the trailheads further up are full. From there, you can easily jump on the buses that lead to the trailhead. The bus ride there is a little crazy, as some of the sharp curves don’t seem made for buses, but it’s still fun to enjoy the scenery without being the one driving.

Directions:

  1. From Estes Park, head west along US-36 into the park. You’ll have to pay the $20/week entrance fee.
  2. Shortly after entering the park, you’ll turn left onto Bear Lake Rd.
  3. Head down Bear Lake Rd. for a ways. Pay attention to signs indicating whether parking is available. You may have to park in one of the bus lots.
  4. Whether you take the bus or drive further, you want to stop/park at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead.
  5. From the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, there are very clear signs indicating the directions to Alberta Falls.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: 1.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Alberta Falls?

Unnamed Falls, 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. I think this drop here might be just as large as Lower Copeland Falls, if not larger.

I guess the only thing is that it is harder to view this falls. The only good vantage point is from above. There might be a way to get to the bottom of the falls, but I’m not sure how safe that would be…Even so, this hike contains some beautiful scenery and some beautiful falls.

Directions:

  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: 20′
Length of Hike: 2.0 miles round-trip (to this falls)

A drop on the Copeland River in Rocky Mountain NP (August 2009)

Where in the World is Unnamed Falls?

Lower Copeland Falls, Colorado

Waterfalls are all relative. Lower Copeland Falls is not exactly that exciting, but that’s partly because it’s near much grander waterfalls. Even so, I never knock smaller waterfalls. They always have their benefits.

Lower Copeland Falls is the first “major” waterfall that you’re going to encounter on your hike to the much larger waterfalls and cascades, Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls, which are both found in the southeast portion of Rocky Mountain National Park. The hike one-way to Ouzel Falls is 2.7 miles, whereas the hike to the two Copeland Falls is only 0.4 miles. It is also a less complicated hike, so viewing Copeland Falls is better for those that would rather not walk the longer distance. That’s why small waterfalls can have their benefits.

Directions:

  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. The sign for Lower Copeland Falls is very clearly marked.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 5′
Length of Hike: 0.8 miles round-trip (to this falls)

Lower Copeland Falls in August 2009

Where in the World is Lower Copeland Falls?

Cascade Falls, Colorado

Cascade Falls in August 2009

I’ve been visiting various waterfalls in Colorado, and I’ve had mixed feelings about them. Some are beautiful, while others have been disappointing. Cascade Falls was one of the more beautiful ones, so I’ve decided to give it precedence.

Cascade Falls is found on the outskirts of the amazing Rocky Mountain National Park. Cascade Falls can be accessed from the North Inlet Trail right in Grand Lake (the western entrance of the park). The trail to the falls is extremely pleasant, and has only very brief inclines. The total elevation gain is listed as 300′, but it didn’t seem to bad, at least compared to some other falls I’ve visited.

Even so, bring something to drink and wear sunscreen. The trickiest part of the climb is the elevation (at 8000’+). Being from Michigan (at 700′ above sea level), it isn’t too bad, but I can still feel the effects. I think it just has a tendency to wear me out more than usual. The trail to the falls roundtrip is 6.8 miles, which I can handle.

Directions:

  1. You’ll be heading north on US-34 toward Grand Lake.
  2. As you approach Grand Lake, you can head straight and enter the park, or veer to the right and head toward Grand Lake. Head RIGHT.
  3. After a short distance, you’ll come to another choice. My first instinct is to keep going, but instead, take the offshoot to the left, staying on W. Portal Rd.
  4. A little distance after splitting off onto W. Portal Road, pay attention for a sign indicating the trailhead for the East Inlet Trail. It’s very easy to miss the sign, especially if you’re coming from the opposite direction. I’m not even sure there is a sign in the opposite direction.
  5. Turn left onto the road leading to the trailhead.
  6. Turn right into the parking area for the East Inlet Trail. From there, connect onto the trail and start your journey.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 6.8 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Cascade Falls?