Play, Shoot, Travel

Photographing Colorado’s Waterfalls

August 2, 2015

Last year, in preparation for our trip to Kauai, I made it my mission to learn to shoot waterfalls. I did a ton of research, boned up on the techniques, and bought myself a good ND filter. I had everything I needed to get started except for one thing – any idea of where to go.

So I turned to Google, asked friends and family, and found some amazing – and easy to access – spots. And now I’m going to share those with you!

The waterfalls on this list all have a few things in common: they are gorgeous, easy to access, and somewhat off the beaten path. While you will most likely find other people at all three of these locations, you probably won’t see these on the “best waterfalls in Colorado” lists. And for you, the photographer, that’s a good thing! Don’t get me wrong, I love Hanging Lake as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s nice to get away from the crowds (or at least some of them!).

This list is mostly Front Range and Summit County focused because that is where I have been spending most of my time lately! If and when I find more spots in other parts of the state, I will share those with you as well. I understand the motivation to keep secret places secret, but I also love to share what I’ve learned!

So without further ado, here are a few of my favorites:

Montgomery Reservoir (Alma, CO)

Montgomery Reservoir is situated near the summit of Hoosier Pass in between Breckenridge and Alma. A short drive up an easy dirt road takes you to the reservoir. If you keep following the road around, you’ll hit the place where the Blue River comes rushing down the side of the mountain. There are SO MANY cool spots to shoot here, you guys! I feel like I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what is possible in this place. If you continue up the waterfall a bit you’ll see an old millsite (which would also make a really cool foreground for Milky Way or star trail shots!). The road to the reservoir is not plowed in the winter so get up there before the snow starts to fly (or plan on snowmobiling, skiing, or snowshoeing in).

Eldorado Canyon State Park (Boulder, CO)

Eldo is just a quick ten minute drive from my house so I spend a lot of time shooting there. I can notice that the light is starting to get good, have my stuff gathered, and be standing at the base of the waterfall in about twenty minutes. I try to get out there at least once a month and it’s been really fun to see the water levels rise as the snow in the mountains has melted. The main road that goes through Eldo runs parallel to the river and a super quick scramble down any number of paths will take you to the water. If you get bored with shooting the water (is that possible?!) you can always point your camera towards the sky and grab some shots of the rock climbers that cling to the cliffs above the canyon. Eldo is one of the best climbing spots in America and there are always people on the rocks!

Blue Lakes (Breckenridge, CO)

The Blue Lakes area is located just outside of Breckenridge. Pass the busy trailhead for Quandary Peak and keep on driving up the road. Eventually you’ll hit a couple lakes and a great big dam and you’ll know that you’re there. There are plenty of places to shoot the waterfalls that rush through the area, headed for the Blue River. This area has a bunch of fantastic dispersed campsites which could make for a really great weekend of camping, shooting, and general outdoorsy shenanigans. It would be a great place to make a weekend of it! As an added bonus, there are also tons of mountain goats in this area and they make for great subjects.

This list is obviously far from exhaustive! Colorado is a beautiful state with endless opportunities for waterfall photography. If you have a favorite spot to shoot moving water in the Centennial State, I’d love to hear it!

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