7 magnificent hikes to waterfalls in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico

Summer is arriving quickly. Flowers bloom, birds chirp, and the winter snow melts. The resulting runoff creates beautiful waterfalls throughout TDS serving areas of Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. So, grab your hiking shoes and fill up your water bottle. Here are six of the best waterfall hikes in these TDS communities.

Northern Colorado
Horsetooth Falls
­– Located in Horsetooth Mountain Open Space Park in Fort Collins, this 2.2-mile waterfall trail is a beautiful hike. With a small elevation gain of 101 feet, this is an easy trail for the whole family. Along the well-marked path, visitors can see a variety of pine trees, wildflowers, birds, and animals. After reaching the waterfall, take a swim in the natural pool and dry off as you watch the sun set over Rocky Mountain National Park. Dogs are allowed, so don’t forget your furry friends!

Hanging Lake hike to Sprouting Rock – If you are looking for a more challenging hike, travel to Glenwood Springs. Rated as moderately difficult, this trail is steep and rocky at times, but the incredible scenery makes this a bucket-list hike. The 1.2-mile trek takes hikers to Hanging Lake, a crystal-clear turquoise pool surrounded by magnificent cliffs, pine trees, and several waterfalls. Just behind Hanging Lake is Sprouting Rock, a waterfall that shoots out over an eroded cliff, creating a small cave behind the falling water. Because of its popularity, visitors are required to make an online reservation in advance.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascade and Ouzel Falls – Rocky Mountain National Park
This is a moderate 5.3 mile roundtrip hike with  a 921-foot elevation gain. With three different waterfalls along the trail, hikers can stop at several rest spots. The trail is located on the southeast side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The route follows the Wild Basin Trail, with a small detour to see Copeland Falls. It’s worth the trip to the larger Ouzel Falls. If you like the sound of rushing water, this is the trail to hike in the park.

Southern Utah
Lower Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
– This 6-mile hike begins at the Calf Creek Campground near Boulder, Utah and guides visitors past Native American ruins to a waterfall and natural pool of water. Because some of the path is through deep sand, the trail is rated as moderately difficult. At the trailhead, hikers can pick up a map to help them locate the ruins along the path. After hiking three miles through the canyon, you’ll arrive at the waterfall. On a hot summer day, the refreshing blue water is a great rest stop before heading back.

Mossy Cave Trail to Water Canyon Falls, Bryce Canyon National Park – This one-mile-long easy trail guides hikers alongside the red-colored cliffs and hoodoos for which the area is famous. The path follows the Tropic Ditch stream for 0.35 miles and then splits. Take the left path to explore Mossy Cave or take the right to continue to Water Canyon Falls. There are narrower paths beyond the waterfall for further adventure.

Ruidoso, New Mexico
Bluff Springs Waterfall
– Bluff Springs is a quiet campground in Cloudcroft in the Lincoln National Forest. You can find the peaceful waterfall just off the road. The area is grassy and open, perfect for picnicking or setting up a tent right in front of the waterfall. Hikers can take several different paths in the area, ranging from 1.5-mile trails to 12-mile adventures through the forest. One short trail takes visitors up and over the waterfall. In the spring, flowers bloom around the waterfall’s base, displaying an abundance of color.

Tunnel Vista Trail – This waterfall trail, located between Alamogordo and Cloudcroft, may be a short 0.5-mile hike, but don’t underestimate it. The path is steep and rocky and requires a good deal of climbing. Hikers who like a challenge will appreciate this trail. The short trek leads to a beautiful cascade waterfall and small oasis. If you can handle the cold water, take a swim!

A safety note from Rocky Mountain National Park Public Affairs Officer Kyle Patterson: “Please keep in mind that streamside rocks are often slippery. Always closely supervise children around all water, but especially near rivers and streams. Powerful currents can knock you over and pull you downstream or underwater. 

 By Hannah Drewieck, Communications Intern

One Response to 7 magnificent hikes to waterfalls in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico

  1. Jean Koppenhaver May 25, 2021 at 7:39 pm #

    Sounds wonderful but at my age I think the hikes would be a little too much.

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