Surrounded by mountainous terrain, the landscape around Glenwood Springs boasts a trio of easily accessible waterfalls, all worth seeking out on your next visit to the hot springs town.
The Glenwood Springs area is home to three stunning waterfalls—Hanging Lake, Hays Creek Falls and Rifle Falls—each one mesmerizing and magical in its own way.
Visually stunning, the area’s waterfalls are often haloed by rainbows and lush with foliage. Up close, the flowing water creates a soothing sound that provides an experience of peace and tranquility in a noisy world. Waterfalls also generate negative ions, oxygen atoms charged with an extra electron. Exposure to negative ions is touted for having a calming effect, improving mood and relieving stress. Most of all, visiting waterfalls, especially those around Glenwood Springs, provides a powerful connection to the natural world, evoking a sense of awe and wonder.
Waterfall spotting is a fun, family-friendly diversion. Here are three waterfalls to check on your next visit to the hot springs town.
Of the three, Hanging Lake perched on the edge of a cliff in Glenwood Canyon is the most famous. This iconic Colorado hiking destination is a National Natural Landmark and is renowned for its natural beauty.
To get to Hanging Lake, visitors must first purchase a hiking permit. At just $12 per person, the fee is minimal. Proceeds go toward maintaining the trail, one of the most popular hiking destinations in the state. The trail itself is short but challenging, gaining 900 feet in elevation over just one mile. The effort is worth it though; breathtaking views and postcard-pretty photo ops await visitors at the top. The crystal-clear lake is fed by a torrent of water, known as Bridal Veil Falls, tumbling down as icy snowmelt from the Flat Tops Wilderness in the White River National Forest.
If you go, be sure to take the short spur trail to Spouting Rock above the falls where water barrels through a hole in the rock before flowing over the lip into Hanging Lake.
Hays Creek Falls
South of Glenwood Springs, near the historic mining town of Redstone, is a waterfall stop you’ll want to hit the brakes for—Hays Creek Falls. In spring and early summer, a steady stream of water cascades over the smooth rocks and ultimately empties into the nearby Crystal River. By late summer and fall, the flow tapers to a trickle.
Part of the allure of Hays Creek Falls is that you have to keep an eye out for it’s location . Even though the falls are not far off the roadway, they can be easily missed. To find the spot, look for the wayfinding signs posted along Highway 133, a scenic stretch along the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway. A small pullout parking area is another giveaway that you’re close to this tucked-away gem.
Further west at Rifle Falls State Park is another captivating and easily accessible waterfall destination. Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by the thundering roar of East Rifle Creek as it plunges 70 feet over pale travertine cliffs into an emerald-green pool below. What makes this triple waterfall extra magical is that you can safely venture behind it for a unique behind-the-scenes perspective. The falls are also an easy walk from the parking area, making it an ideal destination for families with young children.
As a state park, you’ll need to pay the entrance fee of $10 per vehicle or $4 per person to visit Rifle Falls. In addition to viewing the waterfalls, day-trippers to the park also can picnic and enjoy hiking trails.
Waterfalls are a rare and stunning part of the Glenwood Springs landscape. When you visit these beauties, remember to observe trail guidelines such as no swimming or fishing at Hanging Lake. To preserve the delicate environment, as you explore waterfalls in the area follow Care for Colorado Leave No Trace Principles. Doing so will keep these liquid gems in prime condition for your next visit and for future generations of waterfall fans.
Waterfalls Made for Splashing
Postcard-pretty, the region’s three waterfalls are ideal for viewing but not for full-immersion frolicking. When you want to feel the rush of water on your head and shoulders, head to the town’s hot springs attractions. At the west end of Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is the Sopris Splash Zone; here you’ll find a manmade version of Hanging Lake with a gently cascading series of waterfalls. At Iron Mountain Hot Springs, several of the soaking pools feature warm water falls for full-body relaxation.
Discover the Magic of Waterfall Spotting
Waterfalls are magical and cast a charming spell on all those who visit them. Whether you visit Hanging Lake, Hays Creek Falls or Rifle Falls, these cascading wonders will leave you awe-inspired and rejuvenated. Learn more and make plans to visit Glenwood Springs today!
Download the official Glenwood Springs Travel Guide