During the spring months, waterfalls are something that are not in short supply here in Telluride, CO. Most of them can only be enjoyed for a month or two out of the year because they are fed primarily by snow melt, but a small few get the bragging rights for being yearlong attractions. Bridal Veil Falls is one of the lucky few and it’s probably the most popular as well. It’s the only one that can boast tallest free-falling waterfall in the state, falling about 365ft. You can witness this majestic falls during the spring, summer, fall and winter. Each season providing its own unique picturesque moments to capture and experience. In the spring, when the snowmelt is at its highest, the roaring waterfall can be heard from town about 2 miles away. In the hotter summer months, bathing in its refreshing ice cold mist can help cool you down after baking in the sun for about 40 minutes to get there. In autumn the waterfall’s impressive flow dwindles a bit but the added golden hue of surrounding aspen trees and other fall foliage keeps people coming back for more. In the winter this falls becomes the best and hardest ice climb in Colorado. Climbers come from all over the world to try their hand at this technical and epic route.
The trail to Bridal Veil Falls is 1.8 miles one way to the top of the falls from the parking area, with an elevation gain of about 1650 ft. It’s rated on the easy-moderate side for a hiking trail. Mountain bikers, hikers, dogs and off road vehicles are known to frequent the road, making it one of the most popular attractions in the area. High clearance, 4x4 capability is recommended to drive up the road. Driving is prohibited uphill past the top of the falls but you can park there to continue up and left, to hike Ajax Peak via Black Bear road. You can also continue straight past the access gate and power station into the Bridal Veil wilderness area, which leads to some jaw droppingly beautiful alpine lakes, meadows and old mining ruins, littered with many varieties of wild flowers that can be enjoyed from late July through early August.
At the top of Bridal Veil Falls you will find one of the oldest AC power stations in the country, still in operation. Back in 1907, this hydro-electric plant was originally built to supply power to the Smuggler-Union Mine and Pandora Mill. Throughout the years, as it went through various hands of ownership, it has ceased and continued operations. In the end Idarado Mining Company purchased rights to the old mine, mill and falls and resumed operation of the power station. Recently San Miguel Power Association has purchased a 25 year contract to buy all power produced by the plant. It now it provides about 25% of the power to the town of Telluride and about 1% of the power to San Miguel County.
This nationally registered historic place is a must see when visiting Telluride. See you on the trail!