Bridal Veil Falls

Telluride, Colorado, USA

About Bridal Veil Falls

Hiking Distance: roadside (just to view); 4 miles round trip (to get to top of falls)
Suggested Time: 15 minutes just to view; 2-3 hours to hike to top of falls

Date first visited: 2017-04-16
Date last visited: 2017-04-16

Waterfall Latitude: 37.91925
Waterfall Longitude: -107.77002

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Bridal Veil Falls was said to be the tallest permanent free-falling waterfall in the state of Colorado at 365ft. Obviously when we first were made aware of the falls, it was high on our priority list. On top of that, we also learned that it was near the very scenic Alps-like ski-resort town of Telluride. So adding all these things together, we greatly anticipated a visit here when the opportunity presented itself as we decided to do a Desert Southwest trip to the Four Corner states, which included southwestern Colorado. However, as you can see from the photo above, our late April visit was a little on the early side in the season as there was still a lot of snow on the trail (more accurately a road) leading closer to the falls itself, and the falls was still mostly frozen. I had to look real close to see that there was indeed flowing water falling over the column of ice. So we’re probably due a return trip to this area to truly experience the falls as it should be, but even with the suboptimal conditions, I was still able to get a pretty satisfactory experience of the falls from afar (as this page in its current state would attest to).

From the pre-trip research, the hike to the private power station at the top of Bridal Veil Falls was said to be 3.6 miles round trip (1.8 miles each way). While the hiking distance may be modest, the elevation of the “trailhead” at over 9,000ft was no joke in terms of the potential for altitude sickness (no wonder why there was still a lot of snow here). But it turned out that if the vehicle can handle it (and you have the driving skills to maneuver the car up the narrowing road), it was possible to drive the switchbacking road up to the top of the falls. I managed to drive up to the third switchback before I encountered snow. And so I managed to get my views from there, but I decided against chancing it by hiking in the persistent snow to get further up the trail. It wasn’t like I had the motivation to keep going anyways since I was already able to view the falls from the so-called Valley View Area Parking (which was as far as passenger vehicles could go) as well as along the Colorado Avenue just beyond the main part of Telluride.

From the third switchback and beyond, I was already higher above the valley floor much of the trees. Plus, I was surrounded by impressive red cliffs on one side and snow-covered peaks on the other. Amongst the red cliffs were more ephemeral waterfalls. And when I looked back in the direction of Telluride, I could see the charming town flanked by a U-shaped valley providing evidence that a glacier which was once here carved it out in the pleasing manner that has made Telluride one of the premiere skiing and hiking spots in the Rocky Mountains. Obviously, I’m sure the views would be more dramatic and the views of Bridal Veil Falls would take on a different character had I been able to proceed, but that will have to be another time when I can complete this excursion and finally complete this write-up. Overall, I barely had to do any hiking as I had let the semi-high clearance vehicle do most of the work. As you can see in the difficulty score above, I pretty much treated this falls as a roadside attraction, as a result. I’m sure that will change once I finally get to hike closer to the falls.

On a loosely related note, I remembered an old Jeep TV Commercial years back where an attractive lady at a diner saw a guy she was interested in and dropped him a crumpled up napkin (making us think it was probably her phone number). But when the dude drove his jeep up a narrow cliff-hugging road and eventually wound up at a waterfall where she was there about to do a hike, we the viewer would find out she had scrawled GPS coordinates since “Jeep Wrangler owners speak their own language”. At the time, I had always wondered which waterfall it was that allowed you to drive up to its top like that, and I started to suspect it could be the Bridal Veil Falls in Telluride once I was finally made aware that this waterfall existed. Now that there’s youTube, I finally found the commercial and noted the GPS coordinates, then put it on my Topo Map, and lo and behold, it was indeed this waterfall! I don’t think I’ll be seeing “Jenny” up there, but I definitely look forward to coming back here to fully experience this excursion.


Once you get to the town of Telluride, driving to spots where you can view Bridal Veil Falls was pretty straightforward. So from downtown Telluride, I basically continued driving east on Colorado Ave (the main drag through town) for about 2 miles past the Town Park. The last half-mile was unpaved road as it was pretty much a mining and power plant access road. Eventually, the unpaved road reached a somewhat large open space, which I believe was called the Valley View Area Parking. This was the stopping point for passenger vehicles that were neither 4wd nor high clearance.

From this clearing, the road continues up more switchbacks, but it was definitely in rougher shape and clearly required at least high clearance to minimize the potential damage and wear on the car’s suspension.

For context, Telluride was 111 miles (over 2 hours drive) north of Durango, 126 miles (about 2.5 hours drive) southeast of Grand Junction, 330 miles (over 6 hours drive) southwest of Denver, 132 miles (under 3 hours drive) east of Moab, Utah, and 322 miles (about 6 hours drive) northwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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360 degree sweep from the 2wd parking area showing some of the Idarado mining infrastructure as well as the Bridal Veil Falls and the switchbacks leading up to its top

360 degree sweep checking out a distant but frontal view of Bridal Veil Falls as well as Telluride before descending below the snow for a slightly different look at the falls

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Tagged with: telluride, colorado, san miguel county, rocky mountains, idarado, power station, waterfall

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