Chasm Falls is a roadside waterfall located along Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. This waterfall is super easy to get to, but easy to overlook if you don't know about it before heading into your trip to RMNP.
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. But that size means it can take hours of driving to travel from one end of the park to the other.
Chasm Falls is tucked away along Old Fall River Road which has 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! I'm here to take the pain out of planning a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and to help you safely navigate to Chasm Falls!
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 and highlights my favorite activities.
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!
Where is the best place to stay when visiting Chasm Falls?
There are a lot of lodging options here but many of them won't be cheap if you're visiting during peak summer season. It's best to book early when visiting Estes Park and to use a tool that lets you compare prices across different properties.
While further away from Chasm Falls, another great place to stay when visiting the area is Grand Lake. The town of Grand Lake is situated near the western end of Trail Ridge Road.
Although the location will result in more time spent driving, you'll generally find cheaper lodging options in the Grand Lake area.
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.
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, Colorado 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.
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.
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.
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.
Where do I park for Chasm Falls?
Whenever I write about the parking situation for many of the places I visit, 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.
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.
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.
Do I need a reservation to visit Chasm Falls?
A reservation 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 four wheel drive to visit Chasm Falls?
The drive along Old Fall River Road is over a one lane dirt road, but unless there's inclement weather, you don't need four wheel drive to visit. Most of the road is fairly well maintained and not an issue even for smaller vehicles.
When I visited the park, some of the switchback turns were rutted out. Despite this, it didn't appear that any visitors even with smaller vehicles had any issues making it up the road.
If you're still feeling unsure about what to expect, consider checking out some of the video I posted from my drive along Old Fall River Road on YouTube.
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.
Whatever you decide, be sure to secure your rental vehicle well in advance. Summer season in Rocky Mountain National Park can be extremely busy which means stiff competition for rental cars. Tools like Rentalcars.com are great for comparing prices across rental agencies to ensure you get the best price!
Is there an entry fee to visit Chasm Falls?
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?
Guests will need to budget up to two hours to start down Old Fall River Road, see Chasm Falls and then end at the Alpine Visitor Center.
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 dogs 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.
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.
Should I bring any hiking 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
But 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 handy in order to have the best experience possible.
For your convenience I've put together an extremely thorough hiking checklist to make sure you don't overlook anything.
That guide is geared towards longer day hikes, so it would be more useful if you plan on hiking to Emerald Lake in the Bear Lake Corridor. This is a great hike since you'll see three other lakes on your way to Emerald Lake. Those others lakes are Bear Lake, Nymph Lake and my personal favorite, Dream Lake.
If that hike interests you, be sure to check out my video guide on YouTube covering what to know before hiking to Emerald and Dream Lake. Or, for an easier lake hike, check out my post covering Lake Irene which is situated closer to Grand Lake.
You can also watch this video for more travel tips about visiting Rocky Mountain National Park to help with your trip planning process.
I hope this post answered all of your questions about visiting Chasm Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.