Zapata Falls (9,250′), Sangre de Cristo Range
This popular short hike to Zapata Falls is located 3 miles south of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, off of Highway 150. Simply driving to the trailhead provides an excellent view of the entire dune field and San Luis Valley. Drive (east) onto a rough dirt road marked by a large sign, and drive 3.5 miles to the trailhead. To view the falls, hike 1/2 mile, and wade into a crevasse where the 30 ft. high falls cascade onto a ledge. Even in winter, water can still be heard flowing deep underneath the ice.
Next door at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, some of the highest elevation sand dunes in North America, including High Dune and Star Dune can be found.
- Trailhead: Zapata Falls
- Round trip: 1 mile / 1.6 km
- Elevation: 9,035′ – 9,250′ / 2,754 m – 2,819 m
- County: Saguache
- Agency: BLM
- Nat’l Forest: Rio Grande
GPX Route with Elevation
From the Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center, drive south about 8 miles, then turn left (east) onto a dirt road. Drive the remaining 3.5 miles to the trailhead.
To view the falls, hike about 1/2 mile, cross the creek, then scramble up the rocks and stream into a crevasse where the 30 ft. high falls cascade down.