The Great Sand Dunes set behind snow capped mountains, green fields and a stream.

Zapata Falls is located in Mosca, Colorado just a couple of miles from the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It is a very different landscape from the Great Sand Dunes. I wouldn’t consider Zapata Falls one of the more stunning waterfalls in Colorado, but it is pretty unique. If you are visiting the Great Sand Dunes it is certainly worth a visit.

Getting to Zapata Falls

Reaching the trailhead requires a drive on a bumpy, rocky road for just over three miles. You will want to be in a four wheel drive or all wheel drive vehicle with good clearance to take on the drive to the trailhead. It seems to be the never ending road, as it takes quite a while to go such a short distance.

Snow melt rushed down a narrow chasm to form Zapata Falls
The price you will pay to see Zapata Falls is wading through freezing cold water.

Zapata Falls Hike

Once you arrive at the trailhead, the hike itself is quite moderate at less than a mile round trip. There is shade along the way. And, beautiful views of the Great Sand Dunes NP through the trees. The challenge getting to the falls is the icy rushing water that you must wade through to reach the narrow chasm through which the water tumbles.

Attempting to warm up feet on a large rock in the river before entering the cave to see Zapata Falls
Attempting to warm up feet on a large rock in the river before entering the cave to see Zapata Falls.

There may be more or less water depending on how much snow melt off there is, and the time of year. We were there in June of a huge snow year. The river was up to knees depending on where in the river you were. And, it was cold. I mean cold.

I understand there are times of the year, or years, when there is no water. Likely, if there is a river at the Great Sand Dunes there would also be a river here. But I am no expect having hiked it once.

It is also possible that the falls could be a frozen sheet of ice. I think this is one hike that you will want to make sure to hit at the right time of year.

Insider Tip: Be sure to wear water shoes with good grips. You will be wading through a river with slippery rocks to get to the falls.

 

Southern Colorado Waterfalls: Zapata Falls

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