Monday, October 3, 2022

A Hike to Zapata Falls


 

Last week my husband and I decided to take a quick trip to Southern Colorado to see some iconic sights as an early anniversary celebration. We usually like to wait until early October to do a long drive as fall arrives early to Colorado and the aspens begin to turn gold. Autumn is my favorite season as I love the cooler temperatures and beautiful colors of nature.



We drove past Pikes Peak also known as "America's Mountain" 

Pikes Peak is a 14,115-ft. pink granite peak featuring hiking trails with stunning views, climbing & campgrounds.  You can read a post about our first drive up to the mountain's summit on this link, and our last trip in 2021 when many changes were taking place at the summit--click here--to see that post.




As we continued driving south we finally reached the San Luis Valley which is rimmed by the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. A view of Mount Blanca is above,  It is the fourth highest summit of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and at 14,351 feet (4,374 m) it is the highest summit of the Sangre de Cristo Range.  

I blogged about this beautiful peak in a prior post, in which I also explain why Navajo Native Americans consider the peak sacred--click here--to read that post




We could see some colorful aspens on some of the mountains' higher elevations.





We visited this part of Colorado a few years ago but did not have a chance on that trip to hike up to see Zapata Falls, so this time we wanted to accomplish that task. We soon approached the Zapata Falls Recreation Area

Zapata Falls is a waterfall located near the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on Bureau of Land Management land adjacent to Rio Grande National Forest and south of Great Sand Dunes National Park.





As we drove up the road leading to the parking lot beyond the Zapata Falls Campground area we had a wonderful view of a part of the San Luis Valley.

The San Luis Valley is over 50 miles wide and over 100 miles long, at 8,192 square feet (21,000 km) with an average elevation of 7,664 feet (2,336 m) above sea level. It is larger than some American states!



Please click on the collage above twice to enlarge it fully for an easy view of the placard information at the trailhead.

We parked our car and began to hike, passing the informational signs above.  They explained that the hike ahead would be a half mile each way, and have a 400-foot elevation to 9,400 feet. They also explain how the area is a moraine formed by a glacier two million years ago.


Please click on the collage  to enlarge it for a full view

The hike up was very rocky and soon followed alongside the South Zapata Creek





At certain points, the cold creek had to be crossed over to continue the hike.





As you can see and hear in my video above the creek water was running fast and loud!






It was slow going for us as we were trying to be very careful not to fall on the slippery rocks. I did fall once but was able to recover quickly without getting too wet.





We saw younger and more agile hikers taking different approaches along the rock walls of the slot canyon. At one point my husband thought we should turn back, but I was determined that since we came this far we should keep going.





We were glad we did keep going! 

As you can see from the video above the thunderous 25-foot-long waterfall was pounding down inside a slot canyon.  Be sure to look all the way to the top.  We felt we could not go in any further to get a full view as the water was cold and getting deeper, so I leaned in as far as possible to get this video on my phone.






This area is just as impressive during the winter months when the falls freeze into an enormous column of ice!  Our daughter did this hike in early spring when the falls were frozen yet still could be heard running underneath the thick ice.




It was exciting for us to have made it this far!





Considering that it was almost October the falls were still fairly full.  I imagine in late spring they would be even more full and really roaring with snow melt!






After recrossing the creek a few times we began the rocky half-mile walk back down to our car 






Again, the view of the San Luis Valley, with the San Juan Mountain Range in the distance was spectacular!  Such wide open flat, yet elevated land!





We also had a view of the Great Sand Dunes National Paek in the distance.  They are the tallest sand dunes in North America!

The dunes cover an area of about 30 sq mi (78 km) and are estimated to contain over 1.2 cubic miles (5 billion cubic meters) of sand.




Please click on the collage above twice to enlarge the 
two informational placards about the dunes at the overlook.






Come back to my blog next week to learn more about the sand dunes--they are a spectacular sight!





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31 comments:

Gillena Cox said...

Happy Monday. Have a good week. Your photos are gorgeous. I am at 11 on today's linky

Much💛love

Jeanie said...

I love how the two of you do that! Rick's not big on road trips -- anything in a car. I'm not a cyclist so we tend not to do that and I wish we did more. (I'm hoping for at least one road trip this week if my pneumonia eases, hopefully farther north to see a bit more color than we are seeing here.) You certainly took us to a gorgeous spot today. The view of the mountains, the waterfalls, everything -- it's truly miraculous.

Barbara R. said...

So glad you made it to the falls! Precarious walking definitely! And I feel for you hiking on all those rocks coming down...hope you had boots with thick soles. Maybe that's how Zapata falls got its name...meaning shoes that would need to be replaced after walking up to it!

Barbara R. said...

Second try...blogger didn't let first one get published. I said something about how hard it must have been on shoes, with Zapata meaning shoe...and that I hoped your boots had thick soles for walkign on all those rocks. Here goes nothing! Clicking Publish now...

Hena Tayeb said...

Wow.. so beautiful.

stevebethere said...

What lovely photos and scenery i wouldn't be brave enough heheh! thanks for the tour have a fallstastic week 👍

Ellen said...

Hi Pat, from N.W. Ohio near Lake Erie. As always, it's such a pleasure to read your story accompanied by great photos. So glad you get out there and visit the wonders of your area.
Ellen

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

You take trips to the prettiest places and today is no different. Beautiful area - thanks for sharing

William Kendall said...

Gorgeous landscapes!

handmade by amalia said...

Good for you! And the scenery is amazing, as always.
Amalia
xo

Linda said...

Happy anniversary. Looks like a great hike.

eileeninmd said...

Hello,
Beautiful landscapes and views. I am so glad you made it to the waterfalls, it was definitely worth seeing the waterfalls. It is a beautiful spot. Lovely collection of photos. Take care, enjoy your day!

Sandy said...

Amazing photo's and video's. Looks like you had quite the adventure. Aspen are such pretty trees.
Sandy's Space

Sharon Wagner said...

Surreal and scenic vistas. Wow! Those dunes are on my bucket list. What a hike.

NCSue said...

Lovely photos but I admit I'd be reluctant to try such a hike, especially after knee replacement surgery a bit over 3 months ago.
Thanks for sharing your photos at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2022/10/bedtime-story.html and allowing me to peek through your eyes!

ellen b. said...

Hats off to you for hiking to Zapata Falls. Good job navigating the streams, too. And that rocky path back to the car! Yikes.

Angie said...

Pat - love the aspen color on the mountains! I am amazed that there is that much water flowing at this time of year ... and thanks for "leaning in" to get us that video - very impressive! I look forward to your dunes post - the photo looks like a mirage! Thanks for linking so faithfully to Mosaic Monday through the years!

Joanne said...

What beautiful views! I have yet to try a hike where you have to navigate across streams and through water-- good for you for getting to the falls.

Barb said...

I always love reading about your road trips, Pat. I have never visited this falls - it looks spectacular. I love the Sand Dunes though it's been years since we were there.

Lorrie said...

What a beautiful waterfall. I'm glad you kept on going! Such gorgeous scenery, and the temperatures are perfect for hiking at this time of year.

Rambling Woods said...

Early Happy Anniversary...beautiful area for a hike....Michelle

Rambling Woods said...

I think my comment got lost...Happy Anniversary....Michelle

LA Paylor said...

when we moved to CO we hoped to travel but it didn't happen. What glorious footage and adventure you had

Tom said...

...the only time that I was to Pikes Peak was in 1960.It was quite a sight back then.

Jim said...

Beautiful scene.

Andree said...

Such a great, interactive post. That water was loud! I jumped! Reading the signs actually made me feel as if I experienced it, so thank you for that. It is a huge place. The people looking up are so small, and zooming in and seeing the rock formations was awesome. I can't wait to hear about the dunes. Those signs were beyond my ability to see (they pack so much info in them!).

Spare Parts and Pics said...

What a fun and challenging hike! The stream crossing looks tricky with those slippery rocks. I really enjoyed the video!

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Beautiful pics of the aspens turning color. One of the most beautiful sights in nature. Your hike is amazing. You guys did really well. Love the photos of the youngsters doing their way.

Lowcarb team member said...

It certainly looks a good hike.
I enjoyed your photographs and videos too.

All the best Jan

Laura | Everyday Edits said...

Hi pat, Happy belated Anniversary! Great pics! Love the travel trip posts! xo laura in Colorado

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Beautiful -- you are amazing to make that beautiful hike!