Colorado waterfall hike: The trail to Ouzel Falls is a dazzling display in RMNP

A recent hike to Ouzel Falls in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park yielded an encounter with a waterfall bursting with water from snowmelt. Standing below Ouzel Falls is like taking a fresh mountain shower.

The roundtrip length of this hike is 5.4 miles. It’s considered a moderate hike with an elevation gain of 950 feet. My friend and I started early in the morning which turned out to be a great choice. The sun angle was just perfect and created rainbows at the falls.

The hike begins at the Wild Basin Trailhead in the southeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. You reach this part of the park by heading south on Highway 7 from Estes Park, toward Meeker Park and Allenspark.

Upon our arrival early morning at the parking area, we were treated to the sight of two moose running by, a big male and a smaller animal.

Immediately along the trail, we noticed how green and lush this area of the park is right now. Beautifully, delicate flowers painted the sides of the trail in multi-colored glory. The trees had bright green on the tips where they are growing out.

The path follows the North Saint Vrain Creek. The gentle climb almost always is close enough to water that you can hear the sounds, creating a lush feel.

The first fabulous stop on this hike which features meadows and forests is Copeland Falls, less than a mile from the trailhead.

After some short and scenic climbs, we crossed the creek and arrived at the stunning Calypso Cascades. Wooden bridges here are great places to take amazing photographs.

When you get past this waterfall and continue along the trail, you can catch a glimpse of Mt. Meeker and Longs Peak.

After crossing a couple of streams, the trail begins to go up. Here the hike gets a big more difficult. When you arrive at Ouzel Falls itself, the wooden bridge provides a good place to look up to the waterfall. But don’t stop there!

There is a trail to the left that allows you to pick your way up to the bottom of the falls.

On this day, sun streaming through the waterfall mist created surprising rainbows.

Ouzels are small birds that you can often find along streams. The falls were named by Enos Mills, an American naturalist, author and homesteader who was the main figure behind the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park.

The waterfall was running so fast, it was like taking a shower standing underneath it. The water flows over all of the falls and the rocks quickly and strongly, so watch your step as you get close to these features.

The down-and-back hike takes about three hours to complete, unless you stop every quarter mile to take photos and video like we did.

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