Rifle Falls State Park

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Back on the road again, I planned on meeting some friends in Moab on Wednesday.  There was a brief break in the rainy and snowy weather nearby Denver on Tuesday, so I headed out early and made a few detours along the way.  The first place I visited was Rifle Falls State Park.

Rifle Falls State Park, operated by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife, is located near Rifle, Colorado, on hour east of Grand Junction.  The park includes a three hiking trails, a picnic area, and both drive-in and walk-in campgrounds along with wedding facilities.

Rifle Falls State Park

For as popular as the park is, I expected more hiking options.  I know some people who came to Denver from Sweden and drove four hours just to see the park’s main attraction, Rifle Falls.  I told them there are plenty of pretty places closer, but they were set on seeing Rifle Falls.  I feel like they must have seen an Instagram post of the falls and caves in the winter while they are frozen.  Admittedly, there are some cool shots.

During May, however, the falls were flowing!  To get to the falls, visitors just follow the ADA paved path less than a quarter mile from the parking area.  Thereafter, hikers may follow the 1.5 mile Coyote Trail. 

The Hike

The trail loops past the falls and along the base of many explorable limestone caves before it ascends to a plateau with a fishing pond.  It weaves through the trees at the top of the falls where the overlook of Rifle Creek is lovely.  Then the path descends some stairs back to the base of Rifle Falls.  Directional signs are limited in some areas, but the trail was still relatively easy to follow. 

It didn’t take Annie and I long to hike the 1.5 mile loop.  I think the detour to get there through the lovely farmland without cell service took longer than the actual hike.  I suppose I could have tacked on the other trails for a longer walk, but I wanted to get to my Harvest Host campsite, Peachfork Orchard and Vineyards a little early.

Peachfork Orchard and Vineyards

Harvest Host is an organization that provides members with a database of privately owned places that allow camping such as farms, wineries, breweries, historic locations, golf courses, and more. In a return for a stay, campers should buy a product or service if possible.

I requested a stay at Peachfork Orchard and Vineyards in Palisade as it was on the way to Moab and looked relaxing.  Upon arrival, I met Phil who showed me around his orchard. 

While most of the orchard features apple and peach trees, there were a few almond, plum and apricot trees too.  The apricots, which had heaters on them to protect them from the sporadic cold snaps, bloom earlier than the peaches.  As a result, currently, the apricots were bigger than the tiny peaches.

The apple trees were just beginning to bloom with five flowers per pod.  The apples would be too small if they kept all five, so they thin the budding flowers down to two.  I learned a few other tricks of the fruit trade before I tasted a few wines and left the tasting room with a bottle of the Traminette, a dry white wine.  It would be a good contribution to the camping group in Moab.

Soon, I set up camp between the orchards and wandered around the property admiring their old cars, tractors, and atmospheric setting.  Annie and I had a mostly peaceful evening watching the sunset when she wasn’t on high alert for one of the three dogs or cat. For Annie pics go to @crazydogannie on Instagram

In all, it was a great day in Rifle Falls State Park and a nice night at Peachfork Orchard and Vineyards.  I certainly welcomed the 60 degree weather over the cold and rain.  On to Moab in the morning.  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

5 thoughts on “Rifle Falls State Park

    1. So far I have enjoyed it. I have found some interesting places I wouldn’t have visited, and it is nice after a long drive to not look for a campground right away.

  1. Great post, Beth! We loved Rifle Falls. Seemed like it was in the middle of no where but so much fun. Wish I would have known about the Orchard. It looks fantastic! Lori

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