How To Visit the Mind-Blowing Rifle Falls State Park (Colorado): Everything You Need to Know

by | May 2022 | 0 comments

*All photos are protected by copyright and the property of Briana Nickas unless they are stock photos or otherwise noted.

Do you like chasing waterfalls and are planning a Colorado vacation? Then you’ve gotta see Rifle Falls, one of the best waterfalls in Colorado!

We had seen photos of Rifle Falls and were going to be in the area. So we figured it was worth visiting Rifle Falls State Park where the falls are located. 

To be honest, we weren’t expecting much and planned to be there briefly to just snap a few pics. But the photos we had seen did not do the waterfalls justice or show their scale. 

We were blown away by the stunning triple waterfall and spent hours there marveling at them along with the beautiful lush area surrounding them.

We also enjoyed exploring the area, including behind and above the falls along with some cool caves! Trust me when I say, Rifle Falls are one of Colorado’s gems and definitely worth visiting!

So wanna see Rifle Falls for yourself? Keep reading for all the deets you’ll need, including Rifle Falls State Park info, the best time to visit, what to expect, the best trail to hike there, and more!

How To Visit Rifle Falls State Park Colorado

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Rifle Falls State Park Information

The surprisingly impressive Rifle Falls is a 70-foot triple waterfall located in Rifle Falls State Park. Here are some details to be aware of for your visit.

  • Location: Rifle Falls State Park is located about 13 miles north of the small town of Rifle, CO off the I-70 in western Colorado.
  • Address: 5775 Highway 325, 10379 CO-325, Rifle, CO 81650
  • Fee: There’s an entrance fee of $9 for a daily vehicle pass (bring cash!).
  • Hours: 6:00am-10:00pm
  • Parking: There is a parking lot with limited parking a short distance from the base of the falls.
  • RVs: There are 13 drive-in RV/tent campsites with 30 amp electric. Reservations are required. For more details, visit the Rifle Falls State Park Camping page and see the camping fees.
  • Dogs: Rifle Falls State Park is very dog-friendly! Just be aware that while dogs are allowed within the boundaries of Rifle Falls State Park, they are not allowed in the adjacent State Wildlife Area.

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Rifle Falls State Park Colorado

Rifle Falls BONUS: Caves!

In addition to the dazzling falls, Rifle Falls State Park has an awesome bonus – CAVES! We’re always down to explore caves, so this was an unexpected perk of the park. While the limestone caves here aren’t massive, they’re still fun to go into.

Some of the caves are obvious whereas others are easy to miss if you’re not looking. And some don’t seem like there’s much to them. But once you go in and explore, you’ll discover they go further than they appear.

Wondering where to find the caves? Keep reading, and I’ll tell you their locations. 😉 But before we get to that, here’s a tip:

Bring a flashlight or headlamp. The deeper caves get super dark the further you go in, and phone flashlights just don’t cut it. 

Also, be sure to wear shoes with good traction. The floors and walls of the caves can be super slick. If you’re going to be doing any climbing to venture further into the caves, you’ll definitely want traction.

Best Time to Visit Rifle Falls

If you’re trying to plan your trip to Rifle Falls State Park at the optimal time to see the falls flowing at their peak, spring is it! 

Springtime is when there’ll be the most snow melt for the highest run off. We were there at the end of April, and the water was gushing!

As for the best time of day to get there, try to go earlier in the morning to beat the crowds since parking is limited (more details below).

We arrived around 9:30am on a Saturday. At that time, there was plenty of parking available and only a few people there. We practically had the Falls to ourselves. It was amazing!

But by 10:00-10:30am, the park started getting busy and the parking lot was filling up. So it’s probably best to get there earlier rather than later.

We didn’t plan on spending much time there. But we couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous waterfalls and crystal clear water flowing through the lush landscape!

We did a short hike to explore the area and ended up spending several hours there. So glad we arrived early enough to find parking!

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Where to Stay Near Rifle Falls

We traveled to the area by RV and stayed at an RV park in-between Rifle and Glenwood Springs in the small town of Silt, CO.

The RV Park we stayed at was the Glenwood Springs West / Colorado River KOA Holiday, and we loved it! We treated ourselves and upgraded to a Deluxe Patio Riverfront Site on the banks of the Colorado River. #worthit

It was seriously the nicest RV site we’ve ever stayed in. There was a concrete patio with a gazebo, a dining table and chairs, a gas grill, an upgraded fire pit, and Adirondack chairs right on the Colorado River.

The site was spacious and backed to the river with mountain views through the trees that bald eagles like to perch in. Watching the river flowing with the bald eagles soaring overhead was a sight we’ll never forget.

KOA RV Campground for Visiting Rifle Falls State Park Colorado

There’s also a boat launch on the river, a heated pool and hot tub, as well as private bathrooms, a playground, and a huge grassy dog park our pup couldn’t get enough of. We didn’t want to leave and can’t wait to go back with our RV!

Don’t have an RV? Rent one and give it a try!

If you’re not into glamping and prefer more of a rustic camping experience, Rifle Falls State Park campground has nice RV sites as well as tent sites. Reservations are required and can be made as soon as the day of or as far out as 6 months in advance.

Not into RVing or tent camping? There’s also a nice La Quinta in Rifle. It’s great if you’re traveling with fur-babies as they’re dog-friendly and don’t charge a pet fee. We actually stayed there on our way out to Denver when we moved there.

How to Get to Rifle Falls State Park

From I-70, you’ll drive through the cute western town of Rifle, CO to reach Rifle Falls. Rifle is only about 13 miles south of Rifle Falls State Park and right off the interstate.

From I-70

  • Take exit 90 for CO-13 N toward Rifle/Meeker
  • In 0.2 mile, turn right onto CO-13 heading north
  • CO-13 N becomes Railroad Ave (the main street through Rifle)
  • Stay on Railroad Ave/CO-13 N/Government Rd for 3.3 miles
  • Turn right onto CO-325 N
  • Keep right at Rifle Gap Reservoir and stay on CO-325 N for 9.6 miles
  • Follow the signs to Rifle Falls State Park
  • Take a slight right into the park

Entering Rifle Falls State Park

Since Rifle Falls are located within a state park, an entrance fee is required. At the entrance to Rifle Falls State Park, there’s a small Ranger station. But there may not be a Ranger on duty, like when we arrived. 

That doesn’t mean you can enter for free though (awww… shucks!). You’ll have to pay cash. There’s a self-pay station just ahead to the left where you’ll see some bulletin boards. 

You’ll find an envelope to enter your license plate number and insert your cash. Make sure you have something to write with as no pens or pencils were provided when we visited.

Tear off the top sheet of paper you wrote your license plate info on, and leave it in the windshield. Then slide the cash envelope into the dropbox by the bulletin boards.

Parking at Rifle Falls State Park

When you enter Rifle Falls State Park, there’s a parking lot to your right. But that’s not where you want to park. That’s the parking lot for the tent camping area.

To your left is an RV campground just beyond the self-pay station. Take that road to the end where you’ll find a small day use parking lot and roundabout.

The parking lot tends to fill up by mid-morning on weekends and holidays. So plan on getting there early to get a spot while you can.

And if you’re wondering how far you’ll have to walk from the parking area to see Rifle Falls, it’s not far at all! It’s only about a 5 minute walk to the main viewing area at the base of the falls.

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What To Expect at Rifle Falls State Park

Rifle Falls are located within Rifle Falls State Park. After you pay and park, it’s time to explore! Just a heads-up, there are bathrooms at the day use parking lot. 

There are also several picnic tables in the park. So feel free to pack a picnic, and enjoy lunch in the peaceful setting.

If you have kids, they’ll love visiting Rifle Falls! The park and trails are kid-friendly. They’re also dog-friendly. Just be sure to keep your pup on a leash.

From the parking area it’s only about a 5-minute walk on level pavement to reach the base of the falls. The viewing area at the base of Rifle Falls is ADA accessible with no stairs to that point. 

Once you reach the falls, you’ll be dazzled by their beauty and the surprisingly lush greenery surrounding them. The incredibly scenic area is kept moist by the spray from the cascading water, making it feel like a tropical setting rather than Colorado.

If you want to continue exploring the falls, there are some stairs towards the left. Climbing them will take you to some caves to the left. 

Or you can continue straight up to the viewing area behind the waterfalls. This route will give you fabulous close up side and back views of the falls. I highly recommend taking it!

Warning: It’s slick here from the mist. Be sure to wear shoes with good traction. And if you don’t want to get wet from the water spray of the falls, you may want to bring an umbrella or wear a poncho.

The viewing area has an alcove with a bench where you can sit and appreciate the power of the falls. Once you’re done taking it in, you can return to the base of the falls and cross the bridge to continue on the Coyote Trail.

Hiking the Coyote Trail

Rifle Falls State Park features several trails. If you’re looking for one of the best Colorado waterfall hikes, the Rifle Falls Coyote Trail is a must-do! It will take you to some more caves as well as up above the falls to different viewpoints.

Coyote Trail Details

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Trail Distance: 1.5-miles roundtrip
  • Elevation: 70 feet
  • Hiking Time: 30 minutes + time to appreciate the falls and explore the caves
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes
  • Info: Rifle Falls State Park Trails and map

From the base of the falls, you can continue to the right and cross a bridge over the river to take the Coyote Trail. There’s a small amphitheater straight ahead. You’ll want to keep left toward the falls for the trail.

This will take you to more caves and up to a fishing pond. At the pond, keep left to reach a walkway with lookout points from the top of the falls offering stunning views of the park and river below.

Once you’re done taking in the scenery, you can continue on the loop. Or you can go back the way you came if you want to go by the base of the falls again. 

Personally, we chose the second option. We had to get another look at the mind-blowing Rifle Falls before we headed out.

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Things You’ll Want to Have for Visiting Rifle Falls State Park

I don’t know about you, but I’m a planner. I always seem to enjoy myself more when I have the things I’ll need to be safe, comfortable, and prepared. 

So now that I told you all about Rifle Falls and how to visit, here are a few items I recommend bringing with you to make sure you have an awesome time there:

  • Shoes with good traction for hiking, getting close to the falls, and venturing into the caves
  • Umbrella or poncho if you don’t want to get wet from the spray off the falls
  • Flashlight or headlamp if you want to explore the caves and be able to see inside them (our phone flashlights didn’t help much)

Planning on hiking? Make sure you also have all the must-have hiking gear for a day hike.

Wrapping Up How To Visit Rifle Falls State Park in Colorado

If you’re going to be in the western area of Colorado, make sure you plan a trip or detour to the Rifle Falls to see one of the best Colorado waterfalls! 

You should now have all the info you need to have a memorable visit to Rifle Falls. 

Trust me… it’ll be worth it to spend a few hours (or the day) there! So bring your kids and pups. Because they’ll absolutely love it! 

Have questions about visiting Rifle Falls State Park? Drop them in the comments below!

And if you’re taking a road trip to Colorado to see the mind-blowing Rifle Falls, be sure to grab your Free Road Trip Packing Checklist to make sure you have everything you need for an awesome trip!

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Briana Nickas of Next Destination Unknown

Behind the Blog

I’m Briana Nickas, a part-time RVer who loves RVing, hiking, visiting National Parks, and taking photos. My happiest days are spent on the road with my hubby and our fur-baby Saucy (a 7-lb maltipoo) exploring the country and meeting fellow adventurers along the way… 

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