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.

Directions:

  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?

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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.

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: 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.

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. 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?

Adams Falls, Colorado

Adams Falls in Rocky Mountain NP (August 2009)

Adams Falls is one of the easiest waterfalls to visit in Rocky Mountain National Park. The town of Grand Lake is a nice little town, though the food was rather expensive. At the end of West Portal Rd., you’ll find the parking area for the falls. As you hike the short distance to the falls, you’ll see some spectacular views of the Rockies.

Once you get to Adams Falls, though, you may be slightly disappointed. The falls are actually more than appear in the picture, but it is almost impossible to get a picture of the lower drops that are considerably more interesting. I couldn’t even see some of the drops. What you’re left viewing is a small portion of the falls. The actual beauty isn’t really contained in the falls, but the background around the falls.

Directions:

  1. From US-34 in Grand Lake, head east on CO-278/West Portal Rd.
  2. Drive to the end of West Portal Road, where you’ll find the parking area for the trail leading to Adams Falls. The trail goes beyond Adams Falls, though the hike is only 0.3 miles one-way.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 25′ (?)
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Adams Falls?

Upper Copeland Falls, Colorado

Upper Copeland Falls in Rocky Mountain NP (August 2009)

I have to wonder why they decided to call this specific drop Upper Copeland Falls. Along Copeland Creek, there are actually multiple drops. The drops that have been designated Upper and Lower Copeland Falls are large enough to be considered more than cascades, though they are other drops on the creek that are just as large (or small, depending on how you look at it). The main reason to visit Upper Copeland Falls is more for the scenery along the hike than it is to see these two falls. Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls, which are further along the trail, are also far more interesting.

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 Upper Copeland Falls is very clearly marked.

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

Where in the World is Upper Copeland Falls?

Ouzel Falls, Colorado

Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park (August 2009)

Ouzel Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s also one of the longer hikes we did in the park, though there are other falls that are far less accessible than this one.

As your hiking pass Ouzel Falls, you’ll pass by Lower and Upper Copeland Falls and the Calypso Cascades. You’ll also get great views of the Rocky Mountains along the way. The total hike comes in just under 6 miles round-trip, and so it is a longer hike. The trail is rather uneven, especially during the second half, which makes the hike more moderate. During August, it was rather warm, even at these higher elevations, so bring water and food. It also rains rather consistently in the afternoon, so if you set off later in the day, an umbrella/poncho might be useful.

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. You’ll pass Lower Copeland, Upper Copeland, and Calypso Cascades on your way to Ouzel Falls. The hike is a little under 3 miles one way.

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: 5.4 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Ouzel Falls?

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?