Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park - Day Hikes Near Denver

June 6, 2016 Comments (0) 4-6 miles, About 90 Min, Creek or Brooks, fall colors, hikes with shade, Medium, Peak-Top Views, Rocky Mountain National Park, Waterfall Hikes, Waterfalls, Wildflowers

Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

ouzel falls rocky mountain national park

Ouzel Falls spills over a cliffside and enormous boulders, making it arguably one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park. Before reaching this 40-foot falls, the trail traces the course of several creeks and leads hikers past three other cascade waterfalls. Explore the full Ouzel Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in the Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Trail Snapshot: Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Hike Distance: 5.4 miles Round Trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Duration: 3 – 4 hr Round Trip
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Starting Elevation: 8566′
  • Elevation Gain: +950′
  • Seasons: Spring through Fall, Winter Snowshoeing
  • Dogs: Dogs Prohibited in RMNP
  • Hike Trail Map: Click for a Map of Ouzel Falls RMNP
  • Denver Drive Time: 1 hr 30 min
  • Driving Directions to Wild Basin Trailhead: Click for Google Map
  • Driving Directions to Winter Recreation Parking for Wild Basin Hikes: Click for Google Map
  • Town Nearest Hike: Allenspark, Colorado
  • Beauty: Waterfall, mountain views, meadows, river, wildlife: Abert’s squirrel, elk, deer, moose, bear; wildflowers.
  • Activities: Picnicking, hiking trails, snowshoeing, horseback riding, backcountry camping (with a permit), photography
  • Fee: Park Pass Required

Parking & Trailhead Information for Ouzel Falls

The southeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park boasts one of the loveliest portions in the park known as the Wild Basin. The Wild Basin Trailhead is located just 15 minutes outside of Allenspark, Colorado along Highway 115. There is a ranger station at at the Wild Basin Trailhead with toilets and drinking water available.

In the winter (October-May), Hwy 115 may not be plowed to the trailhead, and hikers will need to park their vehicles at a winter parking lot for Wild Basin hikes. Be aware that hikes from the winter parking lot add on another 3 miles of hiking (one-way). There are other small parking areas, like the Finch Lake Trailhead, that may be accessible and allow hikers to park closer to the Wild Basin Trailhead. It’s important to know that Hwy 115, though titled a “highway”, is a maintained dirt road, which means that it can be used by 2WD vehicles. However, after heavy rains and other severe weather, its quality may degrade until it is repaired. 4WD may be needed when snow is on the ground.

The Hike: Ouzel Falls Trail in RMNP

This 2.7 mile hike (one-way) begins at the Wild Basin Trailhead and passes three other cascade waterfalls before arriving at the Ouzel Falls. Copeland Falls are found just 0.4 miles into the hike. For details on locating both the lower and upper cascades, explore our full trail profile on Copeland Falls. After Copeland Falls, the trail continues following alongside North Saint Vrain Creek for about 1 mile to where it splits. The right-hand trail leads south to a log bridge crossing the creek. Near the bridge, hikers can take in the sights and sounds of another small cascade.

The trail continues south to Calypso Cascades, the third and final cascade waterfall before reaching Ouzel Falls. Here the trail splits again. The left-hand/east trail leads aback towards the Finch Lake trail and the Allenspark Trailhead. The right-hand/west trail leads towards Ouzel Falls and the Bluebird Lake Trail. Here, the trail crosses a set of two bridges, then climbs uphill through a set of switchbacks. The mountains to the north now come into view, both Mt. Meeker, Pagoda, and Longs Peak. This segment of trail between Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls is approximately 1 mile.

A second set of switchbacks brings hikers within earshot of the falls, and they will come into view at the bridge that crosses over Ouzel Creek. However, the best views of the falls can be gained via a social trail that is located before the bridge on the left side of the creek. This unmaintained trail leads to an area above the falls with incredible views of alpine meadows and craggy peaks. As with any social trails, please use the most worn paths and hike on durable surfaces. Be aware that the rock can become slick in this area and hikers should exercise caution when navigating above the falls.

Ouzel Falls is named after the Ouzel or Water-Dipper, the only songbird that lives a mostly aquatic life. Ouzels weave globe-shaped nests near waterfalls, lakes, and streams. They dive–even walk–underwater to catch insects and larvae.

Hikers can return the 2.7 miles back they way they came to Ouzel Falls, or can hike further to destinations such as Ouzel Lake (an additional 2.2 miles, one-way).

ouzel falls rocky mountain national park header

Ouzel Falls on a Wet Spring Day – Courtesy of Chris Heald

Tips & Resources for Hiking to Ouzel Falls in RMNP

  • Get there early: Parking may be somewhat limited as with many hikes in RMNP. Parking at the trailhead can fill up, even in the early morning.
  • You’re in Bear Country: Black Bears live in the Wild Basin area and are active on the months of April through November. Be aware, and dispose of your food responsibly. Be sure that no food or strong scented items are left in your car.
  • TIP: There are food storage lockers available at the Wild Basin, Finch Lake, and Sandbeach Lake Trailheads. These are required for visitors staying overnight.
  • Trail Map: Trail Map for Ouzel Falls in RMNP
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Steven Bratman for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Ouzel Falls in RMNP.
  • After the Hike: Meadow Mountain Cafe


Allenspark, CO
mostly cloudy
90% humidity
wind: 4mph NNW
H 51 • L 37

Map & Driving Directions

Click for Driving Directions

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