Rocky Mountain National Park Trails

Rocky Mountain National Park trails take you through many miles of beautiful scenery including high mountain peaks, thick forests, sparkling lakes, and plenty of waterfalls.

This page concentrates on waterfall hikes in the park and includes waterfall pictures for each hike. So, if you’re ready for a waterfall hike, let’s go! And after you've seen a number of them, do let us know here, which one you think is the best one.

Or, to see what other people think is the best one, go here instead. And if you want to hike up to a lake in the park, you can visit my Rocky Mountain trails page.

Alberta Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

Alberta Falls
Trailhead-Glacier Gorge Junction
One-way distance-0.6 mile
Difficulty level-easy
Elevation-9,400 feet

Directions to Glacier Gorge Junction trailhead: from the Beaver Meadows entrance to the park, turn left on Bear Lake Rd. which is the first road after you pass through the entrance station. Follow Bear Lake Rd. for about 8.5 miles until you see the Glacier Gorge Junction parking area on your left. This is a new and bigger parking lot that includes restrooms and a covered sitting area for the shuttle bus.

Rocky Mountain National Park trails can be pretty busy and this one to Alberta Falls is especially popular so it's a good idea to get there early, especially on nice summer days. It starts out gently, and you'll see many aspen trees along the way. After a short time, the trail gets a little steeper but you'll soon find yourself in an open area with sweeping views of the mountains around you.

Glacier Creek will keep you company along part of the trail and in some places, you can go to the edge of the water if you want. At one point, you'll go around a bend and Alberta Falls will suddenly appear in front of you. Enjoy and happy picture taking...these Rocky Mountain National Park trails lead to all sorts of wonderful places!

Calypso Cascades, Rocky Mountain National Park

Calypso Cascades
Trailhead-Wild Basin Ranger Station
One-way distance-1.8 miles
Difficulty level-moderate
Approximate one-way hiking time: 1 hour
Elevation-9,200 feet

Directions to Wild Basin Ranger Station: from the town of Lyons, follow the sign that says Hwy. 7 to Allenspark. Then be looking for a sign that says Olive Ridge Campground.

Soon after this, you'll see a big sign on your right that says: Wild Basin Area/Rocky Mountain National Park. This is where you need to make a left turn into the park. Try not to miss it!

Before you drive into the park, you'll see the Wild Basin Lodge on your left. Continue past this to the fee area and after you pay your fee, follow the dirt road all the way to the end. You'll find yourself in a lot that holds approximately 40-45 cars. You'll also find restrooms and picnic tables here, and if you use a picnic table, you might be visited by some friendly Steller's Jays.

Copeland Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

This Rocky Mountain National Park trail starts out as an easy walk and takes you past a sign on your left that says Copeland Falls. It's a small falls and you might want to make a quick visit there then come on back to the main trail for Calypso Cascades.

After a short time, the trail becomes moderate and you'll reach a bridge that crosses North St. Vrain Creek. From here, you'll only be about a 1/2 mile from Calypso Cascades.

At Calypso Cascades, you can either turn around and go back the way you came, or you can continue on to Ouzel Falls. The Ouzel Falls trail is moderate and you can read my description of it in the next paragraph.

Ouzel Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

Ouzel Falls
Trailhead-Wild Basin Ranger Station
One-way distance-2.7 miles
Difficulty level-moderate
Approximate one-way hiking time: 1 hour and 30 minutes;
Elevation-9,450 feet

Directions to Wild Basin Ranger Station: please see the above directions for Calypso Cascades on this Rocky Mountain National Park trails page. The trailhead is the same for both sets of falls.

Ouzel Falls is considered to be one of the prettiest falls in the park and I think it's definitely worth a visit. From the Calypso Cascades portion of this Rocky Mountain National Park trail, you soon come out into an open area that was burned in 1978 when lightning struck a tree. Fortunately, the trees are coming back in this area, as you'll see if you go.

Beyond the burn area, you'll be in the trees again and climbing through a couple of switchbacks. Through the trees, you will be able to see Mt. Meeker and Longs Peak to the north. After the switchbacks, start listening for the sound of Ouzel Falls because you will be getting close.

At the bridge crossing Ouzel Creek, you'll be able to see Ouzel Falls but you can get a closer look by following a short trail that starts just to the left of the bridge. This is another waterfall where you'll be able to feel the spray coming off of it. Have fun!

Fern Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

Fern Falls
Trailhead-Fern Lake
One-way distance-2.7 miles
Difficulty level-moderate
Elevation-8,800 feet

Directions to Fern Lake trailhead: from the Beaver Meadows entrance to the park, turn left on Bear Lake Rd. which is the first road after you pass through the entrance station. Follow Bear Lake Rd. then turn right at the sign for Moraine Park campground. Follow this road until you see the sign for the Cub Lake/Fern Lake trailheads and turn left onto it. This will take you to the Cub Lake trailhead and a small parking area. Keep following the dirt road all the way to the end, then start looking for a good parking spot.

There is room for about 20 cars at the trailhead and about another 8 spots at a small parking area just before the trailhead on your left. Also, this is another one of those Rocky Mountain National Park trails that's very popular, so try to get there as early as you can.

The Fern Falls/Fern Lake trail starts out by following the Big Thompson River and not surprisingly, you'll find lots of ferns along the way. It's a fairly easy hike until you reach a spot called The Pool. Here, you will cross a log bridge over the Big Thompson River. Just after The Pool, the trail forks and you want to take the right fork to Fern Falls. The left fork goes to Cub Lake.

This Rocky Mountain National Park trail becomes rocky and steeper after The Pool, so take your time. The good news is that you're in the trees for the most part, so there's plenty of shade to stop and rest, or get a drink of water. And speaking of water, you will eventually reach a certain switchback and as you start to go around it, wondering where Fern Falls is, it'll be right there in front of you. Enjoy!

Bridal Veil Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

Bridal Veil Falls
Trailhead-Cow Creek
One-way distance-3.2 miles
Difficulty level-easy to moderate
Approximate round-trip hiking time: 4 hours;
Elevation-8,900 feet

Directions to Cow Creek trailhead: from the intersection of highway 34 and 36 in Estes Park, follow Hwy. 34 west, past the McDonalds restaurant. Continue on past the Stanley Hotel, then turn right on MacGregor Ave., which eventually becomes Devils Gulch Rd. Along the way, you'll see MacGregor Ranch on your left. Beyond the ranch, start looking on your left for McGraw Ranch Rd., which is a dirt road. Turn left onto this road and go approximately 2.2 miles to the trailhead.

Among the many Rocky Mountain National Park trails, this is another favorite one, so as I've said before, do your best to get there early. There is room for about fifteen cars, (along the side of the dirt road), and there is usually someone there from the park service. The good thing is, you don't have to pay the fee here because it's outside of the regular park entrance.

I recommend you bring plenty of water if you plan on hiking this Rocky Mountain National Park trail to Bridal Veil Falls. Much of the trail goes through a large meadow-like area that is strewn with wild flowers. It's very pretty during the summer but there are only a few trees along the trail so it can be hot.

Alright, got your water? Good! The trail itself starts on an old dirt road that eventually becomes more of a hiking trail. Trees are scattered on both sides but most are not close enough to provide shade. (Although a few are.) Eventually, the trail does become more wooded with lots of vegetation along the sides.

You will cross Cow Creek a couple of times on a log bridge and then at one point, you'll come to an area that's a tie-up spot for horses. From here, this Rocky Mountain National Park trail becomes more difficult, steep, and involves some climbing over rocks. So, just take your time and persevere, because you're almost there. Enjoy the falls and by the way, they really do look like a bridal veil!

Adams Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

Adams Falls
Trailhead-East Inlet
One-way distance-.3 mile
Difficulty level-easy
Approximate round-trip hiking time: 15 minutes;
Elevation-8,470 feet

Directions to East Inlet trailhead: East Inlet is on the west side of the park, (near the town of Grand Lake), so if you're driving from Estes Park, you need to drive up and over Trail Ridge road, (Hwy. 34), and down towards Grand Lake. After you leave the park, (while still on Hwy. 34), start looking for the sign that says: Grand Lake and village. Turn left at this sign. Follow this road and you will shortly come to a fork in the road where you'll see a sign saying: Welcome to the town of Grand Lake. Take the left fork, (West Portal Rd.), and follow it for approximately 2.0 miles. Then take the dirt road to your left, where you'll see the sign saying Adams Falls RMNP Access. Turn left again into the East Inlet trailhead parking lot and look for a good spot.

Keep in mind that Trail Ridge road is closed during the winter because of heavy snow so you will only be able to drive it from spring through fall. It's a beautiful drive though and well worth it with great scenery and lots of chances for seeing wildlife.

Although the Rocky Mountain National Park trail leading to Adams Falls is inside the park, you don't have to pay the fee. This is because the East Inlet trailhead is located outside of the park entrance.

This short hike, (more of a walk), takes you through aspen trees and lodgepole pines. At the fork in the trail, take the right fork which will lead to the Adams Falls overlook. Morning is usually the best time to be here since the overlook area is relatively small.

West Creek Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

West Creek Falls
Trailhead-McGraw Ranch
One-way distance-2.0 miles
Difficulty level-moderate to difficult;
Approximate round-trip hiking time: 4 hours;
Elevation-8,160 feet

Directions to McGraw Ranch: please see the directions on this Rocky Mountain National Park trails page for Bridal Veil falls. The parking area is the same for McGraw Ranch as it is for the Cow Creek trailhead.

So, before I start you off on your hike to West Creek Falls, I'd like to remind you to bring plenty of water. The first part of this trail involves hiking up a steep mountain and it's relatively open, although there are trees around you. Water comes in very handy on this Rocky Mountain National Park trail!

From just beyond McGraw Ranch, follow the sign on your right for the North Boundary trail. (There is no sign here saying West Creek Falls.) After a short walk on this Rocky Mountain National Park trail, you will leave the national park and enter the Comanche Peak Wilderness Area. Don't worry about this though since you will eventually re-enter the national park. 

Anyway, once you reach the Comanche Peak Wilderness Area, the trail becomes narrow and steep as it travels up the mountain. Take your time and enjoy the scenery, such as aspen trees which turn gold in the fall. Keep trudging your way up and soon, you will reach the top of the mountain. After catching your breath, you will now have an easier hike down the other side although it's also fairly steep.

Once at the bottom, you'll cross West Creek on a log bridge. Just beyond this point is a fork in the trail and you want to take the left fork. (The sign will say North Boundary trail). From here to the falls, this Rocky Mountain National Park trail is moderate so you won't have to spend so much time huffing and puffing. After a short time, you'll reach another fork in the trail and you want to take the left fork again. This time, the sign will say West Creek Falls.

Continue on for another short while and you'll see a sign that says: "horses are not permitted beyond this point". From here, you are almost there so keep following the narrow Rocky Mountain National Park trail until you reach this smaller but attractive falls. As a side note, we encountered someone on the trail who saw what was probably a bobcat in the little cave near the falls, so keep an eye out!

Horseshoe Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

Horseshoe Falls
Trailhead-Alluvial Fan trail
Difficulty level-easy to moderate
Approximate one-way hiking time: 2-3 minutes;
Elevation-8,800 feet

Directions to Alluvial Fan trail: from the Fall River entrance to RMNP, follow the road past Sheep Lakes. Shortly after that, you will see a road on your right with a sign saying Old Fall River Road. Turn right onto this road and as you're driving, look on your right for Horseshoe Falls, which is visible from the road. Shortly after you see the falls, you will see the parking area on your right and the sign that says Alluvial Fan trail. This is where you want to park.

It’s a short walk up the Alluvial Fan trail to a bridge that gives you a wonderful view of Horseshoe Falls. It’s also a great spot to take pictures of it. If you want, you can cross the bridge and go further up the trail and closer to the falls. At one point, this Rocky Mountain National Park trail ends, but you can continue walking up and around the rocks for different vantage points of the falls.

Chasm Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

Chasm Falls
Trailhead-approximately 1 mile up Old Fall River Road, on your left;
One-way distance-.3 mile
Difficulty level-moderate
Approximate one-way hiking time: 2-3 minutes;
Elevation-8,965 feet

Directions to Old Fall River Road: from the Fall River entrance to RMNP, follow the road past Sheep Lakes. Shortly after that, you’ll see a road on your right with a sign saying Old Fall River Road. Turn right onto this road and it will take you to the original Old Fall River road which is currently unpaved.

After you drive approximately 1 mile up Old Fall River road, you will see the sign saying Chasm Falls, on your left. Just beyond the sign, (and also on your left), there is a small parking area that looked to us like it might fit approximately 15 plus cars.

This falls is very popular, so the earlier in the day you can get here, the better. Also, Old Fall River road is a one-way road, so if you don’t manage to find a parking spot at the falls, you need to keep going all the way up to Trail Ridge road. That isn’t a bad thing though, because the scenery is well worth it.

So, once you get out of your car and onto this Rocky Mountain National Park trail, it’s a short walk down a moderately steep hill. The viewing area for the falls is relatively small but if you get there early enough, you might be lucky enough to have it to yourself. Anyway, I think it’s definitely one of the worth seeing waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Cascade Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

Cascade Falls
Trailhead-North Inlet
One-way distance-3.5 miles
Difficulty level-easy to moderate
Approximate one-way hiking time-one hour and twenty minutes;
Entrance fee-no
Restroom facilities-yes
Elevation-8,840 feet

Directions to North Inlet trailhead: North Inlet is on the west side of the park, (near the town of Grand Lake), so if you’re driving from Estes Park, you need to drive up and over Trail Ridge Road, (Hwy. 34), and down towards Grand Lake. After you leave the park, (while still on Hwy. 34), start looking for the sign that says: Grand Lake and village. Turn left at this sign. Follow this road and you will shortly come to a fork in the road where you’ll see a sign saying: Welcome to the town of Grand Lake. Take the left fork, (West Portal Rd.), and follow it for about 1 mile, then look for the sign on the left side of the road that says: North Inlet trailhead. When you see it, turn left up the dirt road and follow it the short ways to the trailhead.

There is very little parking at this trailhead, (maybe 4-5 spots), but I did notice a sign pointing to an upper parking lot. We didn’t have time to check it out so I don’t know the size, but if the lower lot is full, you can go to the upper lot.

Anyway, this Rocky Mountain National Park trail to Cascade Falls actually starts out going down for a short ways. Then it flattens out and you’re walking along an easy, wide path. You’ll pass by meadows and open fields which are good places to watch for wildlife like mule deer, elk, and moose. We spotted a deer watching us, but didn’t see any moose. (We did see their droppings along the trail though, so keep an eye out.)

Before long, you’ll come to a private cabin and at this point, the wide path ends and you’ll start walking on a trail that’s more of a hiking trail. This Rocky Mountain National Park trail will also become more forested at this point, so there’s plenty of shade on warm days. Along the way, you’ll pass by North Inlet Creek. It actually looks more like a river because it’s relatively wide and slow moving.

This Rocky Mountain National Park trail soon becomes more moderate, and stays that way most of the way to the falls. But it continues to be forested, so it won’t be as hot as an open trail would be. Eventually, you’ll walk across a rocky cliff, and from that point, it’s not much further to the falls. You’ll hear them before you see them, and there’s a sign there saying Cascade Falls; so you can’t miss them. Have fun. :-)

Timberline Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

Timberline Falls
Trailhead-Glacier Gorge Junction
One-way distance-4.0 miles
Difficulty level-easy to moderate, but difficult at end;
Approximate one-way hiking time-two hours and thirty minutes;
Entrance fee-yes
Restroom facilities-yes
Elevation-10,450 feet

Directions to Glacier Gorge Junction trailhead: please see the description for Alberta Falls at the top of this page, which gives you the directions to Glacier Gorge Junction. Try to get there as early in the morning as you can, since it fills up quickly. If it’s full when you get there, continue up the road to the Bear Lake parking lot which is much larger. From there, you can take a free shuttle, (summer only), back down to Glacier Gorge.

Anyway, this Rocky Mountain National Park trail starts out very easily and leads you to Alberta Falls. After a stop there to admire the falls, continue up the trail which now becomes rocky and starts to climb. As you make your way up this rocky path, follow the signs for Mills Lake.

Eventually, you will come to a fork in the trail and one will go to Mills Lake, and the other one will go to Loch Vale. You want to follow the Rocky Mountain National Park trail that leads to Loch Vale. Keep working your way up and at one point, you’ll come to a switchback from which you will see a pretty cascading creek. From there, it’s only a short distance to Loch Vale.

At Loch Vale, you can actually see Timberline Falls if you look across and beyond the far side of the lake. But there is no sign for Timberline Falls. So you want to follow the sign for Sky Pond. It will take you past Loch Vale and on to Timberline Falls, which is the longest hike of all the Rocky Mountain National Park trails on this page.

When you get beyond Loch Vale, the trail will start to climb again, and at one point, you will cross a creek over a log bridge. Not too much longer after that, you will see a large boulder on the right side of this Rocky Mountain National Park trail which is big enough to shelter under in case of bad weather. At that point, the trail becomes steeper and you will be climbing up stone steps.

Take your time, and after a few minutes, this Rocky Mountain National Park trail will lead you to the creek which comes out of Timberline Falls. But you’re not quite there yet, and you’ve reached the most difficult part of this hike. At this point, you have to enter the creek, (there is no bridge), and walk/climb up the creek for a short distance, then make your way to the opposite side where there is a fairly small patch of dry land. From that point, you will have an excellent and close-up view of the falls. Enjoy! 

Well, that's enough waterfall hikes for this Rocky Mountain National Park trails page-I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. And if you have a favorite that you think other people should visit, do let us know what it is in the below form. :-)

What's the best waterfall in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Of the many waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park, which one do you think is the best? Or, if you don't have a favorite, but would like to tell us what you think of any waterfall, (or waterfalls), in Rocky Mountain National Park, please feel free to do that too :-).

Enter a title-this could be the name of the waterfall that you think is the best one.

Here's what other visitors have said:

Click on the links below to see what these people think are the best waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Ouzel Falls, and Cascade Falls are the only ones I've seen so far...... Not rated yet
I like Ouzel Falls, but Cascade Falls comes in as a close 2nd. I haven't had a chance to see all the falls you've photographed and commented on in this …

Timberline Falls Not rated yet
The sights from there were just amazing, we were there in mid September and it started snowing, as we were leaving the Sky Pond. What a beautiful day. …

Bridal Veil Falls Not rated yet
When my husband and I did this hike a few years ago we only saw about three people the entire time. It was nice and secluded and a great reward at the …

Alberta Falls Not rated yet
Today my dad and I hiked to Bridal Veil Falls and Alberta Falls. We did Bridal Veil Falls first. It was nice and pretty, but it was really not that impressive. …

Bridal Veil Falls Not rated yet
Definitely the best falls I have seen in RMNP. I've seen 12 of the 29 falls, so this might change when I've seen them all. For Bridal Veil Falls, be …

Bridal Veil Falls Not rated yet
There are a number of good waterfalls in the park but I think that one of the best waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park is Bridal Veil Falls. It's …

Click here to write your own.


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