Horseshoe Falls and Old Fall River Road

Tuesday, September 11

Horseshoe Falls, Roaring River. Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

The morning dawned beautifully this morning, although it is supposed to start clouding up later, with rain and thunder showers predicted. In keeping with our policy of never hiking the day after a long or hard hike, we decided to do a drive to a couple of areas we’ve been interested in. The main part of the trip is a 9-mile one-way gravel road called Old Fall River Road. It rises a coupe thousand feet to the Alpine Visitor Center on Trail Ridge Road, the main road through this part of the park.

The first destination on the drive was Roaring River and Horseshoe Falls. This is a pretty spectacular cascade of water. I wanted to be here early because once the sun gets onto the water, photography gets a lot less interesting. Yes, I’m going for the smooth and silky water look again. I just don’t get tired of it. I got what I wanted. We scrambled around the rocks for an hour or so, climbing higher the whole time. It was pretty easy going. The rocks were dry but still pretty slippery. People and water caused this. We just needed to take care and we were fine. Few others ventured up to where we were, so we worked undisturbed.

Further on was Chasm Falls. Unfortunately the trail to it was closed for trail construction. We stopped here for coffee and snacks. We did sneak up the trail a bit, but I was sorry we did. Others seemed to think the area was a toilet and many a soiled toilet paper was spied. People can be total pigs. Anyway, we continued on.

The road kept rising in a switchback fashion. There were many pull-outs to stop in and enjoy the views, of which there are also many. Many cars too. But we knew what we were in for here. The good with the bad. There was evidence of old avalanches where now grew large stands of aspen. At the higher elevations, they are turning.

Avalanche area

By about 11 AM, clouds began coming over. This served my purposes nicely. The clouds can even out harsh light and add interest to bland skies. As the day progressed, it indeed did get more overcast.


Eventually we reached the visitor center at the top of the road. We found a nice overlook for our lunch before our decent back down to the valley. As in many places in Colorado, one can feel on top of the world when taking in the expansive views all around. We stopped in several places to take it all in before heading back to camp.

It did indeed begin to rain late in the afternoon and occasionally during the evening. We had planned a very long 10 mile hike for Wednesday, but decided to reconsider because of the forecast of rain through most of the day. As it turns out, this was a really good decision. Find out why in the next post.

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