Chasm Falls Rocky Mountain National Park

Updated: Feb 25

With so many different sites to see in Rocky Mountain National Park picking which ones to see and figuring out how to reach them can be a daunting task!


It's no secret that Rocky Mountain National Park is HUGE! The park itself encompasses over 400 square miles of wilderness (that's over 1,000 square kilometers!) and offers visitors 350 miles (560+ km) of pristine mountain hiking trails to enjoy.

It can take hours of driving to travel from one end of the park to the other. Not to mention, Chasm Falls is best reached by venturing along Old Fall River Road.


This is a one lane dirt road with switch backs, steep drops and no way to turn back if you decide it's too much to stomach! Once you start up Old Fall River Road, you're committed.


But fear not. We're here to take the pain out of planning a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and to help you safely navigate to Chasm Falls!


Chasm Falls Colorado
The path leads down directly to a viewing area for Chasm Falls

Have a specific question about visiting Chasm Falls? Jump ahead using the table of contents below:


Don't forget that Rocky Mountain National Park is now on the timed entry reservation system during peak season (end of May through early October). If you don't have a reservation be sure to head over to Recreation.gov to lock that in!


If you aren't familiar with that system - do not fear! I've put together a post highlighting how to get through the reservation process along with other useful tips. Check out my National Park Timed Entry Guide here!


Once you're finished reading this guide, be sure to check out the Rocky Mountain National Park Video Guide I put together over on my YouTube channel. It includes tons of great footage I shot during my visit throughout the park.


You'll notice some links and advertisements from partner or affiliate sites throughout this post. I typically earn a small commission on any purchases made through those links at no additional cost to you. If you check those out, great. If not, I'm still happy you're here!

 

What to Expect When Visiting Chasm Falls?


Chasm Falls is a small waterfall located directly beside Old Fall River Road. After pulling off Old Fall River Road you can walk down to a viewing platform which offers views of the waterfall in one direction, and downstream views in the other.


Chasm Falls views
Chasm Falls makes for a great pit stop along Old Fall River Road

The scenery here is beautiful and Chasm Falls makes for the perfect pitstop for any visitors traveling along Old Fall River Road. This isn't going to be the biggest or most stunning waterfall you ever see, but it's certainly worth the detour for those already planning to make the journey up Old Fall River Road.

 

Where is Chasm Falls Located?


Chasm Falls is best accessed from the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park via the Fall River entrance station. From here you will want to follow marked signs and work towards Old Fall River Road.



As you continue along this path you will eventually reach the Endovalley trailhead and picnic area which should take about 15 minutes or so after entering the park. Once you reach this location you will have two options for reaching Chasm Falls.


Keep in mind that if you're entering Rocky Mountain from the west, near Grand Lake, you'll have to drive across the entire park to reach this area which can take upwards of two hours.


Dirt Road in Colorado Mountains
Old Fall River Road leads directly to Chasm Falls

The first option for reaching Chasm Falls is to continue driving along Old Fall River Road. This is the option that I would recommend. The path up is one lane, dirt, and features numerous tight switch back turns along the way. There are steep drops along the side of the road at times and limited opportunities to pull off.


Once you start up Old Fall River Road, you're committed to completing the drive all the way up to the Alpine Visitor Center. The road is 11 miles long (18 kilometers) and will take you about one hour to drive without stops.


The drive is absolutely stunning if you can stomach it and was one of my favorite activities that we did in Rocky Mountain National Park. If you're trying to figure out whether to drive Old Fall River Road I've put together a full post on what to expect.


Looking for tips to save on airfare? Check out a full post I wrote on the subject here!

If you decide to drive Old Fall River Road, there's a parking area and pull off right by Chasm Falls. This means that once you park, you've effectively reached the waterfall.


If you do not want to drive along Old Fall River Road you have one other option for reaching Chasm Falls. When you reach the Endovalley picnic area there will be parking. You can park your vehicle here and hike along the road to Chasm Falls.


If you do this option you're looking at a 2.5 mile (4 kilometer) roundtrip hike with nearly 500 feet (about 150 meters) of elevation gain.


Chasm Falls Waterfall
A close up shot of the Chasm Falls waterfall

I would not recommend the hiking option. In part because the Old Fall River Road drive is such an amazing experience. If that isn't enough to sway your opinion, the hike isn't going to be particularly enjoyable since you'll be sharing the path with vehicles driving to Chasm Falls.



If you're entering Rocky Mountain from the west, near Grand Lake, you'll have to drive across the entire park to reach the Bear Lake trailhead which can take nearly two hours. Considering many of the parks best hikes and sights are located along the Bear Lake Corridor, it's not a surprise that most people suggest staying in Estes Park over Grand Lake.

 

Chasm Falls Parking


Whenever I write about the parking situation at different location, I rarely have good news. However! In this case the parking situation for Chasm Falls isn't that bad even in the late morning hours. There are ample parking spaces, while others may choose to park along the curb at the wider portions of the road.


Old Fall River Road views
Views along Old Fall River Road are stunning - be sure to stop for a photo!

There are a few reasons why I don't think the parking situation is as bad as most places. First off, the timed entry system has been great about cutting down on traffic by limiting the amount of people in the park at peak hours. From there not all visitors will attempt Old Fall River Road, so if you're making the drive be proud! Add lastly, since Chasm Falls is just steps away from where you park the spaces turn over relatively quickly. Even a lengthy stop at Chasm Falls will take under 20 minutes.

 

Other Things to Know About Chasm Falls


Is There Cell Phone Service at Chasm Falls?


Cell phone service throughout most of Rocky Mountain National Park is minimal. You may get intermittent cell phone service around Chasm Falls but don't count on it. The higher points of the park (towards the Alpine Visitor Center) will offer better opportunities to get a signal.


Do I Need a Permit for Chasm Falls?


A permit is not required to visit Chasm Falls or to travel on Old Fall River Road. With that said, Old Fall River Road is susceptible to seasonal and maintenance road closures. Be sure to check the NPS website in advance of visiting for any road closure notifications.


Do I Need a Special Vehicle For Chasm Falls?


The drive along Old Fall River Road is over a one lane dirt road. Most of the road is fairly well maintained and not an issue even for smaller vehicles. From my experience some of the switchback turns were rutted out a bit. Despite this, it didn't appear that any visitors even with smaller vehicles had any issues making it up the road.


While a vehicle with higher clearance such as an SUV is preferable, it is not a requirement. Be mindful that since this is a dirt road your vehicle may be exposed to rocks and other debris.


How Much Does Chasm Falls Entry Cost?


There isn't a fee specific to accessing Chasm Falls or Old Fall River Road. The Rocky Mountain National Park entry pass and timed entry reservation are all you need to access Chasm Falls. You can check out current rates at the National Park Service's website.


How Long Does it Take to Visit Chasm Falls?


Start off by budgeting 30-45 minutes of driving time from Estes Park to the Endovalley picnic area.


From this point hikers should budget about 90 minutes of walking time. If you're driving, Chasm Falls isn't too far up the road but it will take you at least one hour of driving to reach the Alpine Visitor Center without stops.


Once you reach Chasm Falls and park, it's located directly next to the lot. This means you'll only spend as much time here as you want to take photos and take in the views. We spent about 15 minutes at Chasm Falls itself.


In addition to Chasm Falls, we pulled off along Old Fall River Road a few other times to take photos. I'd budget another 30-60 minutes for stops along the way.


From Alpine Visitor Center back to Estes Park you should budget about one hour of driving along Trail Ridge Road.


Are Pets Allowed at Chasm Falls?


Sadly, pets are technically not allowed at Chasm Falls. While your pet is welcome to enter Rocky Mountain National Park, don't expect to take them with you at Chasm Falls or any of the other trails. Pets are only welcome around parking lots and certain campgrounds.


Are there Bathrooms at Chasm Falls?


There are restrooms available before you reach Old Fall River Road. According to the NPS there is another set of facilities along Old Fall River Road just before you reach the Chapin Creek trailhead. However, that location is fairly close to the Alpine Visitor Center which also has facilities.


Should I Bring any Special Gear for Chasm Falls?


Hiking gear isn't necessary for Chasm Falls if you drive since it's located directly next to the parking pull off. If you plan to hike from the Endovalley picnic area be sure to bring water, light snacks and sun protection.


What is the Best Time of Day to Visit Chasm Falls?


Be mindful that during the summer Rocky Mountain National Park frequently experiences afternoon thunderstorms. I'd recommend visiting Chasm Falls early or late in the day to avoid this risk. Crowds and parking are generally not an issue with this activity.


Also - don't forget to check out the Rocky Mountain National Park Video Guide over on my YouTube channel if you haven't already!

 

Looking for hiking gear recommendations?


Chances are if you're visiting Rocky Mountain National Park you'll be doing some hiking. If you're doing some hiking you'll want to have the right gear in order to have the best experience possible.


Finding gear that's functional, not overpriced, that also looks good can be a challenge.


For your convenience I've laid out some of my favorite hiking apparel below. All of the gear I link to below are items I personally own and have tested out on the trails. Quick disclaimer, I am an affiliate of several referral programs and I may earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.


  • Hiking day pack - If you're in the market for a hiking day pack I'd suggest browsing REI's selection. If you've never owned one before you can go into a retail store and they'll ensure you find one that fits properly with any of the bells and whistles you may require!

  • Water reservoir - I have reservoirs from Platypus and Gregory that I really like. While these come in a variety of sizes I wouldn't bother with those smaller than 3L. You can always just fill up the larger ones part way if you're concerned about weight since they collapse to the same size.

  • Moisture wicking t-shirts - Patagonia makes really great hiking t-shirts that keep you dry all day long. They also perform well under multiple layers of clothing.

  • Hiking socks - I absolutely love the FEIDEER brand of hiking socks. I've tried some other hiking sock brands, but I think these take the cake! They make great socks for women and men.


There's nothing worse than missing out on a great hike because you didn't come prepared, don't be that person!

 

Check Out Our Timed Entry Reservation Guide


There's one mistake you cannot afford to make when visiting US National Parks. Showing up without a timed entry reservation is a surefire way to blow up what should be an otherwise stress free day exploring some of Americas most beautiful destinations. If the park you're visiting requires a timed entry reservation you'll want to read this guide first.


Fortunately - we have put together a guide walking you through that process. We also provide useful tips on how to get the best time slots and what to do if you find yourself without a reservation.


You can access our Timed Entry Reservation Guide here!