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Zapata Falls Recreation Area in Colorado

Hiking Trail or Trailhead
Overlooking the San Luis Valley and the San Dunes – Sharron Calvin

Southern Colorado and the San Luis Valley in particular have many hidden gems and one of them worth checking out is on the way to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. It is called Zapata Falls National Recreation Area and water does flow through here all year round. The water flows through a rock dike left by a retreating glacier. Even though in the winter, the falls partially freeze which makes it a perfect playground for ice climbers!

This can be a wonderful family outing or to bring a guest that is new to the area. From the parking lot, you will climb an easy 1/2 mile to a small grove of trees. There are benches along the way and as you are walking toward the falls, there is an excellent view of the San Luis Valley and the Sand Dunes. If you are feeling more adventurous and the water is low, you can rock hop your way over to the falls. The falls sit behind a rock opening.

Zapata Falls now offers 6 day use picnic areas, as well as 25 RV and tent camping sites. Bathrooms are available in both areas.

This area is also designated as part of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area as there is a lot of culture and history here.

Seasons Open - Year Round

Take Highway 159 North Toward the Sand Dunes National Park for 10.5 miles till you see the sign for Zapata Falls Recreation Area. Turn right and drive 3.6 miles to the day use area. There is plenty of parking. From there the Zapata Falls is 1/2 mile up a gentle incline.

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets are welcome - just be considerate of others.

Trail Distance

1/2 mile

Nearby Places