Zapata Falls


This afternoon, we went to Zapata Falls. The falls, near the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, lie within BLM land just south of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The road to the trail heads up into the mountains, providing great views of the San Luis Valley

San Luis Valley

and the Great Sand Dunes.

Great Sand Dunes

You also get a good look at the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

Mountain View

It is a shame that the road is a gravel washboard, as there is a nice campground near the end of the road.

One of the campsites

It only offers dry camping, but if the road was better, we’d pull the Airstream up there for a few days. The views are just incredible. Plus, it is basically empty.

Beautiful views

After parking, there is a half mile hike to the waterfalls. The trail is strewn with decent size stones. Kathryn decided to see how long she could walk without touching dirt.

Well balanced child

Some other unknown hiker found another creative use for the stones.

Rock Art

As you near the falls, the temperature begins to drop as you start to hear the water’s thunder and soon you see the small stream from the falls.

Eventually, you will be walking in this...

The falls themselves are hidden from immediate view within a crevasse.

From here, the falls are still hidden

To reach them, you must walk through the stream. For a short distance there is a “path” along the rock wall with a cable to hang onto. So, if you wish, you can stay out of the stream for a while. Kathryn enjoyed this part so much that she had to do it a few times.

Rope challenge

Mary and I followed this route for awhile, then decided if we’re going to get our feet wet, we might as well go ahead and do so. This pointed out to us why the cabled path is there. The stream is flowing, so the water temperature is at least 33 degrees, but I’m not sure it is much warmer than that. But it was worth it to see the falls.


And a slightly different view

Though only 25 feet in height, the location makes for beautiful falls. Since you’re within a crevasse, all light streams through a fairly narrow opening.

Light from above

The sound of the falls echoes between the rock walls, amplifying their sound, drowning out the rest of the world. We spent a fair amount of time here just enjoying the beauty of it.

Out on a limb

After returning to the Airstream, we enjoyed one of the localized rain showers they seem to have here in the valley.

Rainbow over the mountains

We enjoyed both the rain and rainbows until the daylight faded away.

I thought the legend involved gold....

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