Zapata Falls Campground

Area Status: Open
This area is Open
 

Zapata Falls Campground sits at 9,000 feet at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It offers sweeping views of the San Luis Valley, the San Juan Mountains and nearby Great Sand Dunes National Park—plus spectacular sunrises, sunsets and night skies.

A new trailhead in the campground supplies a link to the South Zapata Creek Trail #852, and the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. A second trail, North Fork South Zapata Trail #868, just above the campground in the day-use area, leads visitors on a mildly steep half-mile hike to the falls that give the campground its name.

The falls were formed when South Zapata Creek wore a groove in the crystalline rocks of the Sangre de Cristos, allowing its water to spill onto the soft alluvial soils below.  Over millennia, the creek has carved a dim, deep and narrow chasm through which water tumbles some 30 feet.  In the summer, the falls offer a cool respite; winter temperatures turn them into a giant ice sculpture.

Getting to the falls is an adventure in itself, involving a wade through cold creek water and a climb over slick boulders. The falls are located on land owned by the Colorado State Land Board, and people who visit them need to be cautious and realize that the climb can be risky.

Zapata Falls area is a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Special Recreation Management Area. The campground is located on BLM Road 5415, seven miles southwest of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. 

At a Glance

Current Conditions: NO WATER --- This is a BLM campground. Phone 719-852-7074 for more information. Open year around unless closed by snow. 
Reservations: First Come, First Serve
Fees
  • Individual: 23 sites  $11/Night; Maximum limits - 2 vehicles (plus 1 trailer) - 6 people - 2 tents  
  • Group: 1 site  $20/Night; Maximum limits - 4 vehicles (plus 1 trailer) - 15 people - 5 tents  
Open Season: Open year around
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Restrictions:
  • Quiet hours & no generator use 10 pm - 7 am.
  • Pack it In, Pack it Out
  • No potable water on site.
Closest Towns: Blanca, Colorado, south of Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Water: No
Restroom: Vault Toilet
Operated By: BLM
Information Center: BLM, San Luis Valley Field Office, 1313 E. Hwy 160, Monte Vista, CO PH: 719 852-7074

General Information

Directions:

To reach Zapata Falls Campground: From Highway 160, about 5 miles west of Blanca, turn north on Highway 150 and travel about 10.5 miles to BLM road 5415; turn east and travel another 2.5 miles to the campground entrance.

To reach the road to the campground from the Great Sand Dunes National Park, travel about 7 miles southwest on Highway 150


Accessibility:

The unpaved road from the highway to the campgrounds gains 1,000 feet in 3.6 miles and is rough in places. Passenger cars and RVs can navigate the road, but it may be too challenging for some vehicles.


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities


Camping & Cabins

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Hiking

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Nature Viewing

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/riogrande/recarea/?recid=74116