Hike to Zapata Falls



0.5 miles

Elevation Gain

150 ft

Route Type


Added by Billy DiMirra

This is a hike is right outside of Great Sand Dunes National Park, that leads to a 30ft. cave waterfall.

Driving towards the Sand Dunes, you will see a sign marker that indicates the road up to Zapata Falls. Turn right onto the road a follow it for about 2 miles until you hit the parking lot at the top. The road is in pretty rough condition so if your car doesn't have high clearance make sure you take it slow. Once you reach the parking lot, you will see an 10ft sign indicating the trail head. You will follow the trail up for 1/2 mile leading to the cave entrance. Depending on the time of year you will continue into the cave, either on ice or through water and you will see the falls in the back of the cave.

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Know for

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking



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šŸ„‡Top Contributor

8 months ago

Amazing place to stop

This is an incredible hidden gem. It is right on the way to the dunes so it is a great place to stop and cool off.

šŸ„ˆ Contributor

10 months ago

Nice short waterfall hike

I think the trip reports I read about the road leading up to Zapata Falls were a little over exaggerated. My Subaru Forester made it up just fine and there was plenty of parking at the trailhead. Really cool views at the beginning of the hike of the sand dunes in the valley below. Short hike to reach the falls. They were half frozen and half running when I visited, I thought that was pretty cool. I saw some trails that went above the waterfalls, definitely will be back to check out more of the area.

Awestruck by Ice

Absolutely loved looking at iced waterfall, listening to water run under the ice and being mesmerized by light play of water running behind waterfall ice front. Easier hike than expected. Glad we had ice crampons for short traverse if ice. Better road than expected, as Iā€™ve driven Subaru up many worse to other trailheads. My granddaughters first snow hike. Wonderful introduction to playing in the winter!


This hike is one of my all time favorites! 1/4 mile up a rocky trail to the water. Wading upstream in ankle deep, very cold water to the cave. Waterfall is in the back. It was spectacular! I loved all of it! Highly recommend! Throw on some water shoes, grab a walking stick and do it! Might want to take a 4WD vehicle up to the parking area, definitely a high clearance vehicle. There were cars there but no way I would've taken my Honda!


šŸ„‡Top Contributor

almost 4 years ago

Escape from the dunes

After hiking up the dunes and getting sand in about every crevice of my body, Zapata falls was a nice little escape to cool down, Still iced over Memorial Day weekend.

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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