Zapata Falls is a waterfall located near the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on Bureau of Land Management land adjacent to Rio Grande National Forest and south of Great Sand Dunes National Park. The falls has a drop of 30-foot (9.1 m). Access to this waterfall entails a mildly steep 0.5 mi (0.80 km) hike. Viewing the falls requires fording the stream and climbing rocks. Black swifts nest near the falls, one of the few known breeding sites for this species in Colorado During the summer months, the falls provide a cooling oasis, but during the winter months, the waterfall freezes into an enormous column of ice, perfect for the experienced ice climber.
A short but adventurous hike over slippery rocks leads to a magnificent 25-foot waterfall at Zapata Falls Recreation Area. This area is just as impressive during the winter months, when the falls freeze into an enormous column of ice. Travelers along Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway can stop at Zapata Falls Campground for a convenient overnight stay. For more information, please contact the San Luis Valley Field Office.