A few weeks ago, Chad and I were fortunate enough to take a visit to the nearby Rifle Falls. We took my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, nephew, and niece along with us, and it was a blast.
I’ve visited Rifle Falls several times in the past. Located only half an hour away from our front door, the falls are like a tropical oasis in the desert—the large, gushing waterfalls are surrounded by lush greenery, several hiking paths (including one that goes above the water and overlooks the valley), a stream, and camp sites.
However, this visit was unlike any of my previous trips; this time, it was winter. That meant snow on the trails, ice formations, a heavy chill from the spray, and many layers of clothes on each of us to keep warm. We wore our snow boots and made our way from top to bottom, enjoying a different kind of beauty from the falls.
My tips for a winter visit
Here are some things to note for a winter-time visit to Rifle Falls.
- Winter clothing is a must. It can get chilly! Dressing warm is a good idea, and layers ensure that you can peel off a jacket when it gets warm (especially if hiking). We made sure to wear hats, gloves, and snow boots as well. These came in handy when it was icy and were slipping and sliding.
- (Speaking of icy) wear spikes if you have them. If you’re planning on hiking the trails, there are numerous icy spots, some in steep areas. Spikes are the best way to stay safe. We didn’t have them, and I wish we did. Hiking can become precarious in these situations.
- Passes are self-served. We went on a Saturday morning, and paid for our passes via a self-service station. We paid a cash entrance fee, included our vehicle information, and placed the envelope in a box. Sometimes a ranger will check the cars to ensure payment. It’s an honor system, and I highly recommend following through.
- Bring a flashlight. (Or a phone.) There are several caves to check out, and they are dark.
- Stay a while. Since you do pay an entrance fee, I recommend making the most of your visit. Take your time admiring the falls, checking out the caves, and taking photos. There are also picnic tables, so pack a lunch. This spot is kid-friendly, dog-friendly, and lots of fun. You don’t have to do a hike, but there are plenty of spots to walk around.
- Masks are required. Please be sure to have your mask with you, and wear it when using the facilities or when in close proximity to strangers (like passing others on the trail). We didn’t need to wear ours because we practically had the place to ourselves, but it’s still important to have them on-hand.
Trail name: Coyote Trail
Length: 1.5 miles
Type: Loop or out-and-back
Elevation: 6,500 feet
Usage: Low to moderate in the winter
Dogs Allowed: Yes
More information: cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/RifleFalls/Pages/Trails.aspx
Trail map: cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/RifleFalls/Documents/RifleFallsAreaMap.pdf
Note: This trail is ADA accessible to the base of the falls. There are no paved sections. Expect the trail to be icy during the winter.