On our recent trip to Boulder, we wanted to make sure we took the kids to see Boulder Falls. This beautiful waterfall is up in Boulder Canyon, and feeds into Boulder Creek. This is a pretty short and easy hike in Boulder for kids and families to access, and a beautiful place to relax. So head to Boulder Falls with the kids next time you are visiting for a fun, relaxing getaway.
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Where is Boulder Falls?
Boulder Falls is located about 9 miles outside of downtown Boulder. It’s about a 16 minute drive up that takes you up Boulder Canyon to a pull out on the canyon road to see this spectacular waterfall.
As you wind up Boulder Canyon, you’ll notice plenty of pull over areas. These are places where people have parked to enjoy Boulder Creek, which runs along the side of the road.
There are also a few trailheads to take you on hikes through Boulder Canyon.
The drive itself is beautiful, set within the mountain scenery of Boulder with evergreens, the creek, and a few beautiful home nestled along the river.
Boulder Falls comes from the North Boulder Creek and falls into the main Boulder Creek.
You can drive to Boulder Falls (and it’s not a hard or far drive). Or, if you are without a car, you can take the RTD bus from 14th and Canyon Blvd in town and ride it up to the falls. There is a bus stop right at the trailhead.
Parking for Boulder Falls
As I mentioned, you’ll notice a pull out area right off the road. There is a designated parking area on the left side of the road as you come up the canyon. It’s a good size, but often not big enough to handle the crowds. If you manage a spot in this lot, the trailhead is just across the street.
It was full when we arrived, but there were plenty of people parked along the side of the road in the wide shoulder. It seemed like a legit parking area. While we saw plenty of no parking signs, there were none in this shoulder area, so we joined the other cars on the side of the road.
Please make sure you do not park in No Parking area.
First, shuttles run this route and you do not want to block the shuttle stops. Second, we noticed that Boulder is very strict about parking regulations and saw lots of cars getting towed while we were there.
So don’t risk it. Park only where it’s allowed.
There is no parking fee, nor a fee to hike to Boulder Falls. Visiting Boulder Falls is free!
The Boulder Falls Trail
The great thing about getting to Boulder Falls in Boulder, Colorado is that once you are parked, it’s a really short hike. The Boulder Falls Trail is listed as .1 miles (one-way).
When you first enter the trailhead, you see the creek below. If it’s crowded, you’ll also notice lots of people in the near distance. That’s it! They are all sitting at the falls, you just can’t quite see the falls from your viewpoint.
To begin the trail, you’ll start by going down 37 steps. Then, you’ll immediately go up 53 steps. At that point, you’re pretty much there.
That’s it. The trail is pretty much just stairs along the mountainside to take you to the falls.
Relaxing at Boulder Falls
We love just sitting riverside and relaxing. Well, we relax while the kids toss rocks or climb around the big boulders in the water as we hope that they don’t fall in and soak themselves.
Once you are there, walk around (a small area to walk around) and find a nice place to sit down and relax. Many people sit right in front of the falls or even climb on the large rocks out to a fallen log in the water in front of the falls so take pictures.
We go there and went to the right and climbed down some rocks to sit at the creek, with the falls still in view.
This was a beautiful spot to let the kids splash in the water, climb around rocks, and sit and enjoy the atmosphere. The creek area reminded me a little of the hikes we did in Breckenridge along a creek up the mountain.
While hanging out at the river, we also saw rock climbers on the opposite mountain (not in the falls area). They had ascended incredibly high and had almost made it to the top by the time we left. That’s pretty cool for the kids to watch.
Boulder Falls History
According to Boulder Colorado USA, Boulder Falls was given to the city of Boulder in 1941 by Charles G. Buckingham. His hope was that the city would protect the falls and the area around it, providing a great spot for the public to enjoy.
The city has done just that. Plenty of people have enjoyed the falls for over 50 years. First, by those doing some train travel through the area before it was owned by Boulder. But in 1894, a flood washed out the railway.
Eventually, highway 119 was built, giving easy access to the falls for cars. Another flood came in 2013, washing away the area and impeding access again. Boulder took their stewardship seriously though, and invested over a million dollars to restore the area.
The falls are once again open and enjoyed by many everyday.
Some refer to Boulder Falls as the Yosemite of Boulder Canyon, which seems a bit of a stretch, but the sentiment is true. It’s quite beautiful and one of the easiest, family-friendly trails near Denver.
Pictures of Boulder Falls
(An explanation of my pics…)
Many pictures I see around the internet show Boulder Falls as two streams of water coming down the rock. And that’s true a lot of the time.
This year, Colorado has had so much more rain that usual that the waterfall was much fuller and coming down as one cohesive falls. It may appear different than usual or other pictures.
So if my pictures look different from others you see, that’s why.
While this is no Bridal Veil Falls like Telluride (the tallest waterfall in Colorado), it’s still stunning in its own way.
Boulder Falls Trail Rules: Dogs and Closures
A few rules about Boulder Falls:
- Occasional Closures for wildlife, maintenance, etc. Check status here.
- Dogs allowed, must be on leash
- No rock climbing or rapelling
- Don’t park in No Parking zones
- Leave No Trace: Stay on the trail, don’t leave trash, etc.
- Families Welcome! Boulder Falls Trail is great for kids
- No Glass
- No Smoking
- No Swimming
- No Bicycles
I’ve yet to see a place that allows dogs without a leash (though we saw a lot not on leashes at Chautauqua trails.) But at least they do allow dogs which is great. We find a lot of towns and city owned areas allow dogs, as opposed to many national parks which do not.
FAQ about Boulder Falls in Boulder, CO
Is Boulder Falls a Hard Hike?
No, Boulder Falls is very easy. It’s a combination of going down and then up some stairs, and then you’re there. If you have severe knee issues, then that might be hard with the stairs. But it’s a great, easy walk for families.
Can You See Boulder Falls from the Road?
Not really. You really need to take the short hike to see Boulder Falls. You can, however, see the creek that flows from the falls from the road.
What Road is Boulder Falls on?
Boulder Falls is located right off Boulder Canyon Dr, which is also called highway 119. The creek flows right alongside the road through the canyon for a gorgeous drive.
How Long of a Hike is Boulder Falls, CO
Not long at all! From the road to the falls is .1 miles, or roughly 100 yards. It’s a trail mainly made of stairs, 90 to be exact (depending on how many rocks you count as steps toward the middle).
How Tall is Boulder Falls?
Boulder Falls is about 70 feet high.
Is Boulder Falls a Hike?
Getting to Boulder Falls is more of a short walk than a hike. From the road, it’s .1 miles to the falls. While sturdy shoes are a good idea, you probably won’t need a backpack full of supplies as it will only take a couple minutes to reach the falls.
Do You Need to Book in Advance to Visit Boulder Falls?
To Visit Boulder Falls in Boulder, CO, you can just arrive, hope for a parking spot, and walk to the falls. There is no reservation required to visit.
What is the Elevation of Boulder Falls?
The elevation begins at 6,965 feet. As you walk toward the falls, you’ll go down, and then up and end the trail at an elevation of 7,045 feet.
Can You Swim in Boulder Falls?
No, swimming is not allowed at Boulder Falls. The creek is a great area to sit on a rock and dip your feet, but the current can be strong, especially under the falls, therefore swimming is not allowed or a safe idea.
Final Thoughts on Boulder Falls
Boulder Falls is a beautiful stop when visiting Boulder. It’s not far from town, and you get a scenic drive along the way. It’s especially great for families as visiting Boulder Falls with kids is easy and short. Relax among the large rocks near the river, take in the view, watch for rock climbers, and enjoy your beautiful stop at Boulder Falls.