Manitou Cafe

Rainbow Falls - Manitou Springs, Colorado

A Scenic Colorado Waterfall in the Pikes Peak Region on the West Side of Manitou Springs

Rainbow Falls Manitou
Above: Due to a dry winter, the water ran low during my visit to Rainbow Falls in March 2012.

Rainbow Falls is a beautiful waterfall located on the west side of Manitou Springs. In the historic settlement days, a wagon trail neared it as it traveled west toward Woodland Park, and as the region's population grew in the 20th Century, that route became U.S. Highway 24. Over time, to accomodate the growing use of the automobile, an unsightly exit ramp and bridge were built beside the waterfall.

For years, this area has been marred with graffiti, vandalism and environmental hazards, but things are changing for the better. In 2010, the 4.9 acres surrounding the waterfall were purchased by El Paso County. (The waterfall sits outside of Manitou Springs city limits.) The long-term plan is to restore this area into a park, perhaps similar to a place like Helen Hunt Falls in North Cheyenne Canyon. If you love waterfalls and live in the Pikes Peak region, this is a neat place to visit.

Directions: If you have Google maps or a GPS system, search for Serpentine Drive in Manitou Springs. Park at the dirt lot at the hairpin turn and walk 0.1 miles along Fountain Creek to the waterfall. If you're in the center of Manitou Springs, travel west on Manitou Avenue. At the fork where you're forced to choose U.S. Highway 24 west or east, choose east. That will take you to the hairpin turn on Serpentive Drive.

Photos and commentary by Steve Garufi. Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest - YouTube

Video - March 2012

My humble video. My YouTube page of Colorado videos is:

Historic Photos

From what I've read, Rainbow Falls was a popular attraction in the late 19th century. Some would ride mules to the waterfall from the Manitou Springs hotels. Some had their weddings there. All four of these photos were taken by photographer Charles Weitfle from 1878-1883. This photo is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The remaining three photos are all courtesy of Colorado historian Jeff Christlieb.

Rainbow Falls in all her glory. Great photo!

The photo is marked with "Indian Supply Train". This was the old, historic route to travel west toward Green Mountain Falls, Woodland Park and the Ute Pass Region. Note Rainbow Falls is on the far left side of the picture.

Click any image to view it at a larger size.
Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls
Photos Over The Years

January 2008 - I was in Colorado Springs for the day and met with Lars and Kansas Kelly. They look great!

I like how the ice and snow highlights the creek just right.

Two examples of the graffiti.

For decades, some locals have referred to this place as "Graffiti Falls". Teenagers and others had gravitated here to make graffiti, engage in vandalism and do things young people do. Some have foolishly climbed the concrete arch underneath the bridge, and sadly, on occasion there is news of a fatality when someone falls and crashes to the ground.

Fountain Creek Me along Fountain Creek.

Other nice hikes and spots in Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs:

  • Cave of the Winds Road
  • Manitou Incline
  • Williams Canyon
  • Red Mountain
  • Manitou Railroad Tunnels
  • Rampart Range Road Overlook
  • Pulpit Rock
  • Best Photo of Rainbow Falls in Manitou Springs, CO Rainbow Falls
    A great photo by Lars of the waterfall and underside of the bridge. Lars is an amazing photographer, isn't he? His website is:

    May 2005

    The swimmers in the creek provide depth and show how large this waterfall is.

    Other notable Colorado waterfalls:

  • Agnes Vaille Falls (Nathrop)
  • Bridal Veil Falls (Telluride)
  • Browns Creek Falls (Nathrop)
  • Boulder Falls (Boulder)

  • Rainbow Falls Manitou Springs

    Rainbow Falls and Bridge
    March 2002

    Rainbow Falls and the bridge.

    Manitou exit sign The following photos show another perspective of Rainbow Falls. If one is to take the westernmost exit into Manitou Springs from U.S. Highway 24 ...
    Fountain Creek ... Fountain Creek flows along the deceleration lane and ...
    Rainbow Falls ... Rainbow Falls is juxtaposed next to the bridge.
    Route 24 Exit Bridge A view of the bridge from above. The arrow points to the site of the waterfall.

    It's amazing how many people regularly drive on this bridge and are unaware of this place!

    Collin My friend Collin made the short hike with me on this visit. on Facebook

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