Rifle Falls State Park was the first stop I made along my western Colorado road trip from Denver to Grand Junction. This park had been high on my list for a very long time, and I was so excited to finally be heading to these beautiful waterfalls.
If you want to read about my entire Western Colorado road trip check out my blog post HERE!
I left Denver on a Thursday morning and arrived soon after at the park’s ranger pay station. I have an annual state parks pass sticker on my front windshield, so I passed through without stopping.
The park is very small and so is its parking lot. I pulled into the last open space around 11 a.m. I leashed up my dog, Maria, and we set out on the trail into dense forest. It is a very short walk from the parking lot to the bottom of the falls, and we could hear the water rushing the entire time.
If you would like to watch more from my visit to Rifle Falls State Park please head over to my YouTube channel HERE!
We walked through the trees up to a platform where we finally lay our eyes on the falls for the first time. I was blown away. Everything around the water was incredibly lush and green. It seemed like we were exploring a tropical oasis instead of the Colorado mountains, and I couldn’t wait to see more.
The sounds, sights, and smells excited Maria, and she led me up a path that took us behind the falls.
We could feel the mist blowing off the falls as we explored behind the falls. Maria and I stayed on the trail and discovered a cave! The falls cut through limestone rock and hollows out and erodes the rock shaping it into caves. Maria sniffed out the cool air blowing through the rocks, and we squeezed our way in!
The walls of rock opened up to a dome of natural formations poking out from floor to ceiling. We walked and crawled around as much as we could before Maria led me back into the sunlight. This was just the first cave of many we would find and explore at Rifle Falls State Park
Next, we took a staircase and followed a path along the cliffside and eventually to the top of the falls! Along the way, sturdy platforms developed by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department allowed us to look down into the magnificent area.
The trail then led us above and over the falls. Maria hopped in the water as quickly as she could, but I pulled her out, so we could take the bridge to the other side of the water. The views from above were spectacular even when I discovered that one of the falls isn’t natural.
The water’s power was once harnessed to power the nearby town of Rifle’s mining operations, and one of the falls still flows through an old pipe. One of the walkways has a sign that explains the piping system and gives a good view of it. I was disappointed by this unnatural feature and ready to keep walking.
Maria and I followed the Coyote Trail to the fish hatchery area. We didn't realize the trail would lead us away from the falls, but it was a nice change of scenery. We saw people fishing and explored more into the park’s canyon area. We saw birds and butterflies flying around the sanctuary area before we finally descended and approached the waterfalls head-on.
I didn’t believe that the falls could look any more beautiful than they had from the other viewpoints, but I was absolutely blown away as we stood at their base.
The water that flowed from them was crystal clear, and dozens of fish could be seen swimming in it. Flowers were blooming on all of the bushes surrounding the falls; all being fed by the light mist blowing around and creating rainbows in the sky. I felt as if I were walking in the Garden of Eden.
You can watch more from my afternoon in Rifle Falls State Park on my YouTube channel HERE!
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read.