Colorado is home to some of the best hiking opportunities in the world, with visitors flocking to the region every year to experience the rugged, spectacular landscapes of the American West. With 76% of the Grand Junction area being public land, crowds are never an issue.
The Western Colorado landscape is dotted with a diverse range of landmarks and natural features, but the waterfalls steal the show. There are numerous waterfalls in this part of the country — a result of the mountainous terrain and snow-melt — and it’s possible to experience many of them up-close during a hike.
Photo by @thewanderlusthuskies
Some waterfalls in Colorado can be enjoyed all year round, but they’re best seen between late spring and early fall during the warm summer months. Most waterfall hikes are also located on public land, so they are open to visitors for free or a small fee.
Let’s take a look at six of the best opportunities for waterfall hikes in Colorado to give you some ideas for outdoor adventures this summer.
1. Colorado River State Park - Connected Lakes
The Connected Lakes in the Colorado River State Park are home to a waterfall that runs off the Gunnison River. The waterfall itself is small, but the surrounding area is home to many lakes and a wide variety of wildlife, including over 200 species of birds. It’s the perfect environment for a relaxing and low-intensity day of hiking.
Photo by @confessionsofakaitlin
2. No Thoroughfare Canyon
No Thoroughfare Canyon is in the Colorado National Monument, just minutes away from Grand Junction. It’s home to a wide range of pools, streams, ravines, and waterfalls, and it also offers moderate to strenuous workouts for all levels of hikers, depending on how far you venture out. The first few miles are very moderate, but you can climb in elevation if you wish.
Photo by @ali.vonlewinski
The region is home to some interesting wildlife like bighorn sheep and bald eagles, so have your camera ready or phone charged. No Thoroughfare Canyon is accessible through The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass, an $80 pass that grants access to over 2,000 federal recreation sites.
3. Big Dominguez Canyon
Big Dominguez Canyon is located in the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Area near Grand Junction, Colorado.
Here, hikers can see interesting wildlife like bighorn sheep, along with stunning natural rock formations, petroglyphs, and, of course, several beautiful waterfalls. The scenery of the entire area is gorgeous, making it a popular destination for hikers and backpackers. There are also some camping options nearby if you plan on staying overnight.
4. Land’s End Observatory
Land’s End Observatory, near the Grand Mesa in Western Colorado, is named for its incredible location and staggering views. The Grand Mesa is the largest flat-top mountain in the world, making this region perfect for enjoying magnificent views of the surrounding mountainous country. Head up Land’s End Road and right before you get to the observatory, you will see the waterfall that is caused by the overflow of Bolen Reservoir, which is perched on the top of the Grand Mesa.
Photo by @genuinely.heather
The observatory itself is located 12 miles from Highway 65 along a road built by 200 veterans of the First World War. It’s especially beautiful at sunset and is home to waterfalls, rock formations, and animals such as collared lizards and chipmunks.
5. Rifle Falls
Rifle Falls can be found in the county of Garfield, Colorado, about 180 miles west of Denver and only about 70 miles from Grand Junction. The surrounding area is full of camping options with 13 drive-in and seven walk-in campsites. The landscape is green and lush, with many caves surrounding the 60-foot waterfalls, and the facilities are accessible to everyone.
Photo by Victoria Pettygrove
Around the falls there are many options for hiking, fishing, hunting, and picnics — there’s something for everyone to enjoy. A daily vehicle pass costs $9 and an individual daily pass is just $4.
6. Seven Falls
Seven Falls at The Broadmoor is located in South Cheyenne Creek in Colorado Springs. This is a natural box canyon surrounded by towering rock formations called the Pillars of Hercules. These pink granite towers extend 900 feet into the sky, and the seven waterfalls cascade down over them.
Photo by Greg Gnesios
The falls themselves are at a height of 181 feet and are the only waterfalls in Colorado to be listed on National Geographic’s International Waterfalls. The area is surrounded by streams and hiking trails suitable for all difficulty levels. More leisurely hikers can enjoy gentle trails while daredevils can take part in zipline tours going up to 1,800 feet.
The entrance fee is free for kids under 2, $10.50 for ages 2 to 12, and $16.60 for over visitors over the age of 13. The fee for seniors and the military is $13.75.
Explore Colorado’s Best Waterfall Hikes from Grand Junction
Colorado is a fantastic destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure-seekers alike interested in exploring beautiful waterfalls. There are hiking options for all difficulty levels, and many of these waterfall locations can be easily accessed from Grand Junction, located in Western Colorado.
Ready to plan your hiking trip? Download the official Grand Junction visitor guide today!