Zapata Falls near the Great Sand Dunes National Park is a small 25 foot waterfall that requires a short hike up a mountain creek to see. It is the perfect way to cool down during a summer visit to the sand dunes. Or if you are visiting during the winter months you would be in for a treat as the falls freeze up where the water turns a vibrant blue just underneath the ice.
To get to Zapata Falls from Highway 160 just take Highway 150 North and turn right at the Zapata Falls Recreational Area. It is about a 4 mile drive up a dirt road that is not that well maintained but a standard car can make it. After reaching the parking area it is just a half mile hike up to the falls. The trail is wide and well maintained, but it is a little steep. If you are not used the altitude take advantage of the sporadically placed benches along the trail to take a break and catch your breath.
Once you reach the creek area of Zapata Falls you will hear the falls well before you can see them. Just follow the creek to your right and after some careful stepping over the slippery rocks you reach a rocky crevasse that you will enter to see the falls. When Zapata Falls was made they didn’t have photographers in mind. The slippery creek is not great for photography equipment so unless you are very sure footed you might want to leave any expensive equipment behind. Even then a trip up the creek to see the falls is a risk.
Just know that if you are going to see Zapata Falls you are going to get your feet wet. So you might want to bring some water shoes. Also a hiking stick might be helpful in scrambling up the creek. Like anytime you go for a hike just know what your limitations are so you can stay safe and enjoy your time out in nature. Zapata Falls is a unique waterfall to see and if you are in that area of Colorado it is worth the effort and time to stop and see it.
Zapata Falls Hike
Distance 1 Mile roundtrip
Trail Difficulty: Moderate
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