Family Vacation in Rocky Mountain National Park – Alluvial Fan and Calypso Cascades

We wanted to take it slow on our first day at the Rocky Mountain National Park.  We were all getting acclimated to the thinner air and thought we would start out with some very easy hikes. We stopped at the Fall River Visitor Center before we entered the park and told the ranger we were interested in easy hikes that included waterfalls and lakes. She provided several options for us to check out. With this information as well as recommendations from friends (thank you, Kristen!) and hiking websites, we started our adventure.

Alluvial Fan one from ZagLeft

We first visited the Alluvial Fan in Horseshoe Park since it was short walk (approximately 200 yards from the parking lot). The Alluvial Fan is a waterfall formed when a wall holding a lake broke through sending boulders the size of cars down the side of the mountain. This created a wonderful waterfall area that is great for young and old to enjoy. You can take in the waterfall from the bottom or climb up it as high as you want. It is a fairly easy climb as you make your way around and over boulders.

Alluvial Fan two from ZagLeft

Alluvial Fan four from ZagLeft
Below the Alluvial Fan is Fall River, which is a marsh area with a stream running through it. We enjoyed walking through the area with it sound of running water through the high grass surround by mountains. Very peaceful.

Fall River two from ZagLeft

Fall River from ZagLeft
After enjoying lunch at the picnic tables near Fall River, we decided to take on a longer hike. From the ranger’s recommendation as well as reviews we found previously on websites, we selected Calypso Cascades for our hike. I highly recommend the website, Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails which provides great information on trails in and around the Rocky Mountain National Park as well as Difficulty Ratings for each trail. The Difficulty Ratings lets you know what you are getting yourself into. Calypso Cascades includes several waterfalls and was rated by Rocky Mountain Hiking Trail’s as an “easy” trail.

Calypso Cascades trailhead sign from ZagLeft

Lower Copeland Falls from Zagleft
Calypso Cascades is located in a remote area on the southern end of the park is about a 12 mile drive from the main entrances of the park. The first half of the hike is relatively flat with the first water fall, Copeland Falls, just over a quarter mile from the trailhead. The rest of the hike is uphill but is beautiful, with the stream running along the trail and wildlife all around (note the curious Chipmunk in the picture below).

Curious chipmunk from ZagLeft
Though the trail is rated “easy” is was quite a hike while we were still getting accustomed to the altitude. Remember to bring lots of water. We each drank two 16-ounce bottles of water that we carried in backpacks. The hike was well worth it.

Calypso Cascades trail stream from ZagLeft

Calypso Cascades from ZagLeft
We look forward to exploring the park further in the coming days.


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