A triple waterfall is the centerpiece of Rifle Falls State Park.

In 2017, when my husband asked where I’d like to go to brunch for Mother’s Day, I paused and thought about it. I told him that I’d like to take a family hike with no complaining. Even though he agreed, I wasn’t quite sure the kids would cooperate once we got going. I did a little research and learned of Rifle Falls State Park.

It sounded perfect for young kids. Our youngest is 4-years-old, and I can’t imagine would get far yet on a tough hike. With three trails that loop 1 to 1.5 miles through waterfalls, limestone caves and ponds Rifle Falls sounded perfect. Well it was. And, since it has become of favorite of the amazing Colorado state parks.

Rifle Fall State Park is not to be confused with Rifle Gap State Park. They are very close in distance. But very different in landscape. Rifle Falls is a hidden oasis of triple waterfalls and cool caves. Rifle Gap is a reservoir full of fun water sports.

Getting to Rifle Falls State Park

Rifle Falls State Park is located at 5775 Highway 325, Rifle, CO 81650. It is just off of I70 between New Castle and Rifle, Colorado.

We had breakfast at home, packed our Camelbacks and snacks. Then we picked up sandwiches on the way. Getting out somewhat early is key. It is about an hour to an hour and a half drive from Eagle, or about 45 minutes from Glenwood Springs.

But it is a beautiful drive with unexpected surprises the closer we got to the park. After you turn off of I-70 and go a ways through Rifle and beyond there is a nice little golf course. And then you see a dam. As you come over the dam, there is a beautiful reservoir with boaters out enjoying the water.

Or, you can take a short cut through a new neighborhood in New Castle. Either way you are sure to see farmland, goats, horses and cows along the way. All with snow capped peaks in the distance. That is Colorado for you.

There is a beautiful reservoir on the way to Rifle Falls State Park.
There is a beautiful reservoir on the way to Rifle Falls State Park.



Cost & Parking at Rifle Falls State Park

Rifle Falls State Park is open year round. Though you may want to check before you go for random closures. There is a small entry fee of $9. The parking lot is small and parking spaces are limited on a first come, first served basis. We managed to get there after the lot had filled to get the first parking spot on the road.

We have also gotten out there and been turned away because the parking area was full. Up the road just a bit further is another area with just a handful for parking spots. It is a fairly good hike down from there from the fish hatchery.

Also, Rifle Gap park is a good back up if you can’t find parking at Rifle Falls. The visitors center there is interesting.

Hiking Rifle Falls State Park

The 4-year old at first tried to get daddy and then mommy to carry him. But as soon as we reached the falls which were only steps away from the parking lot he showed a little more enthusiasm. Soon he was climbing the steps up to the top of the falls and then on to exploring the limestone caves.

Randomly enough one of his best friends happened to be there at the same time we were. So he really became enthusiastic. He and one of his besties ran back and forth on the trail, into caves and up to ponds. They possibly may have done the loop twice.

The hike around the falls is not quite as vigorous a workout as I like to get on hikes. But that was more than made up for by the fact that our entire family really enjoyed themselves. It was beautiful and there was so much for the kids to explore and see. We did spot a wild turkey and a Goose with her babies. We stayed clear of them.

A staircase takes you up behind the falls with a beautiful view to the base of the falls.
A staircase takes you up behind the falls with a beautiful view to the base of the falls.

Picnicking at Rifle Falls State Park

There are plenty of picnic tables at the base to relax and enjoy lunch or a snack after the hike. We picnicked as we talked about how it is the perfect spot to bring our siblings and their young children when they come to visit. I suspect we make make it back out to Rifle Falls a couple more times this summer.

Camping at Rifle Falls State Park

This Colorado State Park has 13 drive-in and seven walk-in campsites that sit to the south along East Rifle Creek. There are both RV sites and tent sites. Campsites are available year round. But do require reservations.

Is Rifle Falls Dog Friendly?

Dogs are permitted in the park, and on the main trail while on leash. As always, pet owners must clean up after their dogs. Dogs are not permitted on Coyote Trail and on the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Fish Hatchery at the upper portion of the park.

With 3 trails that loop 1 - 1.5 miles through waterfalls, limestone caves and ponds Rifle Falls State Park is the perfect hike for families with young kids. Find out more about one of Colorado's State Parks and why it is great for families. #ColoradoTravel #VisitColorado #RifleFalls #Hiking #FamilyHikes

Note: This is an updated version of a post originally published May 2017.

For other beautiful spots in Colorado, be sure to check out Colorado National Parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park.

Discovering Rifle Falls State Park

Liana Moore

Liana Moore is a third-culture kid with a hangover from those days that is a severe case of wanderlust. She is more comfortable driving the cliffs of Amalfi, Italy or the dirt roads of Costa Rica or attempting to decipher the street signs of Osaka, Japan than navigating the theme parks of Disney World. But she loves it all. She doesn't believe a vacation is complete without an adventure. Her husband and kids know well that "adventure" often is code for mishap or challenge and it usually results in a good story. They seek outdoor experiences whether in the mountains, on a beach or in the jungle of a tropical country. Her favorite vacation is... all the ones she hasn't yet taken, as well as those she plans on taking again. And, that list is so, so long. But she continues to extensively explore her home state of Colorado, spends lots of time wandering Texas, California, New Mexico, Costa Rica, Mexico, Norway and has even explored Kazakhstan.

3 thoughts on “Discovering Rifle Falls State Park

  • May 20, 2017 at 11:48 am

    We’ve started hiking more as a family and I am constantly amazed at how capable my 3-year old is. She loves hiking and will walk much farther without us carrying her than I expect. We love state and national parks so this will definitely be something we check out if we’re ever in Colorado.

    • May 23, 2017 at 3:05 am

      Thanks, Allison! I think it is so important to get them out early but can be hard. Last summer I made my then 7-year old go on a harder one. It was complaining all the way up but all smiles when we made it to the top. I felt better (though maybe I shouldn’t have) when coming down I saw another mom literally dragging her daughter around the same age.

  • May 22, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    What a wonderful idea for Mother’s Day! So much more fun than waiting in a crowded restaurant. I’m glad this turned out so well for all your family!


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