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Zapata Falls

Alamosa County, Colorado

4.7/5
based on 10 reviews

Details

Distance

0.5 miles

Elevation Gain

150 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

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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Features

Photography
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

Explorer

09/08/20

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.

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.

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 I’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!

Explorer

06/16/17

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.

Explorer

04/20/17

Hiked to the falls in late April and most of the waterfall was still frozen over, but still so beautiful. The road out there was REALLY rough on my 2WD car, but it made it without falling apart. Win! If you're already in the area for the Great Sand Dunes I highly recommend checking the falls out as a part of your trip!

Explorer

02/13/17

The pictures on this adventure are amazing, but in all honesty don't do the falls justice. We came in mid-February and had the place to ourselves (get there early, folks!) and honestly thought it was one of the coolest hikes we've ever done. We used YakTrax, but would have been fine with no traction at all. The road really isn't maintained, and also lasts long enough to make you question whether or not you went the right way. The trail was snowcovered, but the parking lot and road were clear!

The hike is SHORT but sweet. If you're already in the area I highly recommend checking this spot out. The cave is pretty awesome.

Visited Colorado a couple months back and was bummed i didnt make it out here to this amazing spot. Its definitely on my list the next time i'm back in the area.

The falls are spectacular as they're situated back in a little canyon, so you definitely will have to get your feet wet, there is no avoiding that. Typically what we'll do is hike one of the nearby trails, hit the falls on the way out (the cold water will feel great on your tired feet), and then head back to the dunes to lounge near the creek. This is a very short hike, but if you're camping in the area then it is a must see.

Leave No Trace

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

Nearby

Summit Little Bear Peak

Summit Mount Lindsey

Summit Blanca and Ellingwood Peaks

Hike the Mosca Pass Trail, Great Sand Dunes NP

Hike High Dune at Great Sand Dunes National Park

Backpack the Great Sand Dunes