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.
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.
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.
Stunning photos. A perfect way to spend a summer day.
Thank you! Waterfalls are always nice as a summer hiking destination.
Even better when you can go through the waterfalls.
Matt and I are planning a trip to Colorado in September, so what’s one of the very first things I do? Look at your blog, of course! I believe this is going to HAVE to be part of the trip! This is incredible! Thanks for always inspiring! Xx
Adding to the mutual Wunder-list now, am I? Colorado is a beautiful place though I haven’t spent nearly enough time there to be able to give too much advice. These falls are really pretty and 30 miles from I-70. Are you going to Rocky Mtn NP? If so, go watch the bugling elk!!!
You most certainly are! I’ve not spent much time there either so we’re looking forward to seeing some things! My uncle just moved to Denver, so we may try to crash with him for a home base to cut down on cost. We’re going to Garden of the Gods, Doing the Hanging Lake Trail in Glenwood Canyon (this is actually the main inspiration for coming), now we’re going to Rifle Falls and to Rocky Mountain NP, but we’re not positive which hikes we’ll do there yet – I like to talk with rangers to see what their favs are, but I definitely want to watch the bugling elk! We’re actually going down to Arkansas tomorrow trying to really see the elk because we manage to miss them almost every trip. Haha.
Sounds like an awesome itinerary. I wanted to do both Hanging Lake and Rifle Falls but the no-dog rule is apparently enforced there. I hope you have s great time; I can’t wait to see your photos! Also, elk are sneaky like that. 😉
I had no idea! This is just breathtaking and so shocking! Wow, how you open my eyes to so much beauty, Meghan. I am so very grateful. xoxo
Me neither! I think big mountains and plains (to the east) when think of Colorado – not lush, super-green waterfalls. Need to spend more time in the state clearly.
LOVE ALL THE PICS!! 🙂
Thank you, Dana! It’s a beautiful place!