Discover Zapata Falls- An Easy Hike for the Whole Family
As dry as the San Luis Valley appears, there is water in ‘them thar hills.’ Water flows year round at Zapata Falls and even in winter, when the falls partially freeze, this makes a perfect playground for ice climbers! Southern Colorado and the San Luis Valley in particular have many hidden gems and one of them worth checking out is on the way to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
This is a wonderful way to introduce visiting family or friends to the San Luis Valley. Because you are at a higher elevation and this is a short gentle incline hike, it is easy to acclimate. From the parking lot, you hike on an easy 1/2 mile gravel and sometimes rocky path to a small grove of cottonwood trees. Along the way are breathtaking views of the Sand Dunes and the San Luis Valley. If the elevation or incline is a little challenging, benches are all along the way to rest. Once at the grove of trees, if you are still feeling adventurous and the water is low, rock hopping is the only way over to the front of the falls. The falls sit behind a rock opening through a dike left by a retreating glacier.
The Zapata Falls Recreation Area has been designated with the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and now also offers 6 day use picnic areas, as well as 25 RV and tent camping sites. Bathrooms are available in both areas.