The Tropical Waterfalls of Colorado

Rifle Falls State Park features a unique triple waterfall that drops 70 feet to East Rifle Creek. The site is ridiculously scenic and was described as tropical in more than one trail review. The spray creates a lush environment that extends downstream and to the sides of the falls, covering the limestone and rocks in the creek below with thick, long grass and moss. It’s surprisingly green for Colorado.

Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

We followed the Coyote Trail which circumnavigates the falls, climbing up one side of the cliffs and down the other. The water has cut into the soft limestone around the creek, pockmarking the cliffs and creating caves and grottos; it has also carved a space behind one of the falling streams of water which permits visitors to walk behind the waterfall. Upon reaching the top we were treated to some beautiful views down the gap and also learned that one of the three flows is created by siphoning off part of the creek – which seemed a bit like cheating, but we couldn’t deny the beautiful results.

Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Hiking around the side of the waterfalls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Hiking around the side of the waterfalls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Hiking around the side of the waterfalls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Hiking around the side of the waterfalls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Behind the falls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Behind the falls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Me behind Rifle Falls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Me behind Rifle Falls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Limestone caves around the falls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Limestone caves around the falls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

View from the top of the falls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

View from the top of the falls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Old water diversion tanks for generating electricity, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Old water diversion tanks for generating electricity, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Tom and Abby looking out, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Tom and Abby looking out, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Another view of the valley below, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Another view of the valley below, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

We stopped to admire the cute small lake nestled in the mountains behind the falls and then descended along the limestone, poking around in the grottos and fazing at the gradations of color reflecting off the white rock. Leaving the park we stopped briefly at the beautiful Rifle Gap Reservoir, a shimmering pool of cobalt ringed by mountains and streams of fluffy white clouds. When I come back this way again, I intend on swimming in that lovely lake.

Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Limestone on the other side of the falls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Limestone on the other side of the falls, Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Coyote Trail, Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Snake! Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Snake! Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

Rifle Gap Reservoir, Colorado

Rifle Gap Reservoir, Colorado

Rifle Gap Reservoir, Colorado

Rifle Gap Reservoir, Colorado

Rifle Gap Reservoir, Colorado

Rifle Gap Reservoir, Colorado