People were running to Rainbow Falls upon its reopening this month. The steep Serpentine Drive leading down to the gates was better covered by running — easier on the knees perhaps. But sure, there was some anticipation; for months, families had waited to see the hidden waterfall, surrounded by canyon walls and colorful spray paint.

Otherwise known as “graffiti falls,” El Paso County’s designated historic site is closed in winter.

Access also has been shortened in recent years for cleanup. The goal is to wipe the vandalism and return the rocks and overhead bridge to their original states.

The shade-lending bridge is its own attraction. Historians consider the arching design significant for its day in the 1930s. But the site’s natural feature is the special draw: The cascade is tall and mighty, blowing back hair and refreshing on a hot day.

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With the bottom entry of Serpentine Drive closed at the west end of Manitou Springs, visitors are being directed to the top of the road beside U.S. 24.

Drivers can head down Serpentine and drop people off at the ADA accessible site. Otherwise, park at the top and walk down.

The short, dirt path winds around a tumbling cascade; take stone steps down to watch the whitewater rush.

The dirt turns to sidewalk, meeting a small pavilion under the bridge where parents sit while kids dip their toes in the waterfall’s shallow pool.

Trip log: 0.15-mile path to the waterfall

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: Going west on U.S. 24, turn left at the stoplight directly across from the Cave of the Winds entrance. Large parking area beside top of Serpentine Drive.

FYI: Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends in April, May, September and October. Also Fridays and Mondays in June, July and August.


Seth is a features writer at The Gazette, covering the outdoors and the people and places that make Colorado colorful.

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