Be transported to a lush green wilderness when you arrive at Rifle Falls State Park in northwest Colorado. Guests are amazed at the thick vegetation in this deciduous riparian forest and wetland area. The moss-covered rocks, trees, and flowers blooming amidst all the moisture of the falls stand in stark contrast to other drier scenery in the region.
Many campers come to this location to enjoy the stunning views Rifle Falls. It is a 70-foot triple waterfall, the only one of its kind to be found in the state. While it can become crowded with day trip guests on the weekends, those camping here will have the falls all to themselves during off-peak hours.
While it's tempting to just relax by Rifle Creek and listen to the pounding of the falls, there are other sights to enjoy at this state park. Hiking trails lead to limestone caves nearby and you can spot mule deer, elk and on and off the path.
Be sure to reserve your spot early, as there are only 13 RV sites available at Rifle Falls State Park. Plan ahead and enjoy this unique setting for a relaxing camping getaway.
Rifle Falls State Park is accessible off of major interstates and Colorado state highways. From I-70 exit at the town of Rifle, then take Hwy 13 northbound to Hwy 325. Once on Hwy 325, it's about 10 miles to the park.
Guests do not report any problems with the roads or driving longer-sized rigs back into the campground. All of the 13 campsites are along East Rifle Creek off of the paved road. There is a round-about at the end of the road where parking for the waterfalls is located.
The RV campsites are all located between the parking lots at the north and south ends of the paved road. Campsites #4-9 are pull-through sites, and the others are back-in. The surface is gravel, and campers report that they are fairly level sites.
This is a popular park for sightseeing. On weekends, it's not unusual for the day use parking lots to fill up with people coming to visit the waterfalls and caves. Overnight campers should not have a problem parking their vehicle plus their RV at their assigned campsite.
There are 13 RV campsites which include 30 or 50 Amp electrical hookups and shared access to water. There are a mixture of both back-in and pull-through sites. Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire ring. The sites are long, with some accommodating up to 49-foot RVs. Visitors enjoy the scenery and the spacious campsites. Sites are well shaded with plenty of space between sites.
RV camping is allowed at this campground in the winter, with electricity only. Water will not be available in the winter months.
There are not a lot of amenities at this campground. Guests report no internet or cell service in the park and there are no showers. The dump station is located at Rifle Gap State Park which is about five miles away.
The main downside of this campground is how busy it can get on weekends in the summer months. Many people come in for the day to see the falls and can create traffic driving to the parking lot at the waterfall viewing area. Weddings are even occasionally held in front of of the waterfalls.
When you're in a beautiful place, it's hard to keep it a secret! If possible, camp during the week to avoid crowds. You can reserve a campsite up to six months in advance.
There are no first-come, first-served options at this state park.
Three separate trails can be found within this state park.
Coyote Trail leads to beautiful views both below and above Rifle Falls. The lower view is a short, paved, handicap accessible trail leading from the campground to the bottom of the waterfalls. It is a quarter-mile long, for everyone to enjoy. The view at the top of the falls is moderate and highly trafficked. Bring along your flashlights if you want to go inside the limestone caves along this path. The trail is a total of one and a half miles long, winding under cottonwood and boxelder trees. Pets on a leash are allowed.
Squirrel Trail is ADA accessible for the first quarter mile. It begins at the tent-only area of the campground and wanders along Rifle Creek to an overlook point. It passes through a Gambel Oak grove and along the Grass Valley Canal. It is a total of one and a half unpaved miles with moderate difficulty. This trail is not highly trafficked.
Bobcat Trail is a relatively new trail, built to connect Rifle Falls State Park to the Rifle Falls State Fish Hatchery. The hatchery is on State Wildlife Lands, which means no pets are allowed once the trail leaves state park premises. The trail passes through forest and meadows.
The fish hatchery is one mile away from the campground. The trail follows East Rifle Creek passes ponds stocked with trout by the fish hatchery. Be on the lookout for your own secret fishing spot along the creek banks.
Many anglers come to Rifle Creek to hook rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. The average trout length is nine to ten inches. Other species found along the East Rifle Creek include large and smallmouth bass, catfish, and muskie. Fly fishing and bait fishing will both yield results here.
Ranger-led nature programs are offered at Rifle Falls State Park throughout the year. Come participate on a First Day Hike on January 1st, or catch an astronomy program on July 4th weekend. The park has a partnership with Western Colorado Astronomy Club, whom provides telescopes and leads the presentations.
During the busy summer months, you can find interpretive programs on a variety of subjects open to the public. You can also check with a park ranger to find out if your child can participate in the Colorado State Junior Ranger program.
If you're up for a one-mile hike (or drive) you can visit the Rifle Falls State Fish Hatchery. All of Colorado's fish hatcheries are open 365 days a year and are committed to improving and maintaining fish populations. Rifle Falls Hatchery is one of the largest trout production hatcheries in the state.
Free tours are offered at the hatchery. You can call ahead of your visit to find out which days tour guides are available. If no tour guides are available, it's easy to do a self-guided tour with educational materials provided for all visitors.
Photography is especially popular at this state park, and it's easy to see why. To see Rifle Falls cascading over the travertine dam is stunning in all seasons. The mist and spray from the waterfalls feed the vegetation in the area, creating deep green colors all around.
In the fall, the deciduous trees turn colors, creating a different photo opportunity. Even in the winter months, the waterfall combines ice and freshwater into picturesque views. The trails allow for shooting from many different angles, creating different lighting conditions easily. So make sure you pack that camera in your rig.
Pack yourself a lunch in the camper and enjoy a picnic at one of the ten picnic areas conveniently located throughout Rifle Falls State Park. In the background you can hear the roar of the waterfalls and watch the creek flowing by.
There are many kiosks scattered around where you can learn about wildlife you can observe in the park. Other important features of the park are described on informative displays near the picnic areas.