If anyone were to ask me what the most impressive waterfall is in the state of Colorado I would give the edge to Rifle Falls. In a state that doesn’t receive a lot of rainfall, Rifle Falls is unique for its combination of height, breadth (actually multiple falls), the verdant environs of the surrounding area, and the caves near its base.
Rifle Falls State Park is located just outside of the town of Rifle, which is on the western slope not far from Glenwood Springs (a favorite town of ours with a lot to do in the surrounding areas).
The park has a number of short trails around the base of the falls. The falls mist the surrounding areas making it an oasis of greenery in an otherwise mostly arid region of Colorado. There are great vantage points on multiple sides of the falls.
The fun isn’t limited to the waterfalls. Trails lead off toward a series of shallow caves a short distance away that are a lot of fun for kids. We explored all of these with our dog too (she was only a puppy at the time).
It’s a rather slow time of year (for hiking at least) in Colorado, so I thought I’d talk a little about the Santiago Peak hike I did in Orange County, CA in 2011.
We used to live in Orange County (we were there from 2003 until the end of 2011) and by the time I decided to do the hike I already knew we would likely be leaving before long. And of course we did end up moving away.
Santiago Peak is the highest point in Orange County and loomed over our home for the six years we lived in the Portola Hills area. For most of that time I contemplated hiking it, but it was only when we were planning on leaving the area that I decided it was actually time to do it.
While the peak only rises to a modest 5,600 ft, the trail in 18 miles round trip (parking is a mile from the trailhead) and elevation gain is 4500 ft. So the hike is certainly not easy. Likewise the vast majority of residents of Orange County have no idea where the trailhead even is, as it is hidden off a canyon road (it is called the Holy Jim Trail). Also, wildfires have routinely affected the area of the trail in the years since I made this hike so much of the greenery may no longer be quite what you see in the photos.
The hike was on a hot Feb day (seems strange to say that now that I live in Colorado) and for the first several miles it was a rather unspectacular jaunt through canyons and hillsides of scrub. Eventually, however, the switch-backing trail began the full ascent of the peak and the views of the surrounding areas opened up.
While the summit is comprised of unsightly radio antennas, there is an impressive panorama of sites visible from the top. There was even a bit of snow on the shaded side of the summit. You can see Mt. San Jacinto (located near Palm Springs), Lake Elsinore to the east, and the Pacific Coast to the west in the photos below.
The entire hike took about 4 hours to complete at a fairly rapid pace. But for a memorable day hike in Orange County this is certainly a good choice.
Rocky Mountain National Park is the largest national park in Colorado and one of the most visited in the country. Over the course of many years I’ve hiked dozens of trails in this park, from the short and family-friendly Emerald Lake, to the ultra-challenging Longs Peak trail. Read on…
We took a weekend camping trip to northwestern Colorado and a little bit of Utah. We made our first trip to Dinosaur National Monument and saw the Dinosaur Quarry and hiked the Fossil Discovery Trail in 97 degree heat. We also visited the Natural History Museum in Vernal, UT.
The following day we went to Steamboat Lake (a favorite place of ours in CO) to do some canoeing. We camped at the KOA in Steamboat Springs which was ok, but more crowded and not as scenic as the Steamboat Lake campground. We camped there last year and loved it.
We saw a bald eagle, golden eagle and a beaver but couldn’t get photos because we were on the road and couldn’t pull over in time. The golden eagle was especially cool. I had never seen one and it was huge.
I’ve had the chance to explore several areas of New Mexico which I’ll detail in this page. New Mexico is a state full of historic sites dating back many hundreds of years, as well as natural wonders encompassing mountain and desert regions. Read on..
We’ve been to Yellowstone several times in the past few years and we’ve had the chance to explore a large array of the park’s features. Here’s an overview of many of the various locations, trails, campgrounds and more of which I am familiar...Read on
We got out as a whole family and drove north to Fort Collins to do some hiking. We found Lory State Park right outside town by the Horsetooth Reservoir and hiked the short but steep Arthur’s Rock Trail. Then we headed to town for some good food and beer at the CooperSmith’s Brewery.
I got my first photo of a western tanager and assorted other plants and animals.
I was probably around seven years old when I first noticed the tiny country of Belize just south of Mexico on a map. Unlike most kids staring at maps was a literal past time for me and my interest in that little country was piqued in that moment. Read on…
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