Bridal Veil Falls

They call Sam Bush the “king” of Telluride. He’s been a key player in 30-some of all of the Telluride Bluegrass Festivals ever. He’s got a lyric he sings at every festival he plays in the San Juans: “High in Telluride, up on Bridal Veil, 10,000 feet above the sound,” and for folks who know, they can picture the scene. For whom it’s painted in their hearts, hearing Bush sing about the beauty of the falls is poignant, heartwarming, and sometimes tear-jerking.

The tallest waterfall in the state of Colorado, Bridal Veil Falls is a picture of magnificence. Located at the back of the Telluride canyon, off Highway 145 on Colorado Avenue, and past the mining area, Bridal Veil Falls is surrounded by incredible peaks that frame Telluride, like Ajax. If you drive back that far, just minutes past Telluride, you can’t miss it. With 365 vertical feet of waterfall, the scene is breathtaking, or breath-encouraging. In a place like this, you’ll want to breathe deeply.

In the winters, you’ll see ice-climbers summiting the frozen falls, an ascent coveted by many expert climbers. And in the summer, the switch back rocky road that zig-zags up and beside Bridal Veil Falls provides access to some of the finest alpine hikes anywhere. At the bottom of the falls, people gather to take photos or daydream or paint and sometimes practice yoga.

Hiking up to the falls is possible via the pass. It’s 1.8 miles one-way, and the entire hike can be accomplished in a few hours. The adventure is classified as an easy to moderate hike. Remember, though, the hike begins at 8,750 and has a significant elevation gain. Water is always necessary for the mountains. Foot travelers should watch for vehicles. Mountain bikers may also be en route on this pass to travel up to Bridal Veil Falls. Four-by-four travelers also make use of this road. Jeepers love the switchback trail up to the falls.

No motorized vehicles are permitted past Bridal Veil, however, but foot traffic is open to those who want to explore the Bridal Veil Basin — a haven of mountain plants, wildlife, and terrain. At the top, you’ll notice the power station situated on the edge of the cliff and overlooking Bridal Veil Falls. Here, hydroelectric power is harnessed via the falls and is sold back to San Miguel Power Association for the town’s use. While the house contains all of the comforts of a traditional living space and does function as a family home, the basement holds the machinery required for hydroelectricity.

Access to some incredible scenery is made possible by hiking up the pass and to the falls. Both Blue Lake and Silver Lake are just over and beyond Bridal Veil. These high mountain lakes are a summer sanctuary, with crystal-blue waters nestled in wildflowers and alpine rocks and grasses. For those who’ve not experienced the beauty of Bridal Veil, it’s a must-do for a Telluride visit, and that is any season of the year. Cameras are necessary. Bridal Veil Falls lends itself to striking photography, and the early morning or evening sky will provide you with perfect lighting.