Zapata Falls Trailhead
Info

Location

Range: Sangre de Cristo
Coordinates: 37.61932, -105.55464
14ers: Ellingwood Point, Blanca Peak
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Road Difficulty

2WD, easy dirt road 1   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
This may change due to current construction of a campground on the site.

Driving Directions

From the town of Blanca, go west on US-160 and turn right (north) onto CO-150 for 10.7 miles and turn right onto a gated, graded, unpaved, 2WD road. Drive 3.5 miles up the road to reach the trailhead.

Winter Access

Unknown
Status Updates 
  
Posted By: Flyingfish
Info: There is some construction going on at the Zapata recreation area. At the moment it does not seem to affect access to the trail head but it is something to keep in mind.
 
Posted By: jordanthebuff
Info: This was the best dirt road I’ve ever been on in Colorado. They (whoever they are) are in the process of smoothing out the road. It’s more than wide enough for two cars to pass at any point and so smooth you could tell me that it’s about to be paved and I’d believe you. Any vehicle is capable of this road with ease. Nice campground at the trailhead, lots of spots (~30) though at 4 PM on a Wednesday in July the campground was pretty full (about 80%). I don’t know if you can make reservations or not, but if you are going on the weekend it could be worth checking out. At 4 AM, I was the only car at the trailhead, so plenty of parking if you are coming from somewhere else.
 
Posted By: Carl_Healy
Info: Road and trailhead completely dry.

Pretty rough driving but 2WD should have no trouble. Looks like they have some construction equipment along the road to improve it but they weren’t working at it today.

In the afternoon the trailhead was packed full of people making the short half mile jaunt to Zapata Falls.
3 
Posted By: angry
Info: snowpacked to th.
 
Posted By: paigie_42
Info: No snow the whole way!
 
Posted By: angry
Info: Snow packed to th, 2wd. Bathroom unlocked.
 
Posted By: sky_high
Info: Ditto to previous comments. I saw many 2wd cars at the top of this road. It is 2-lane all the way up, so plenty of maneuvering room. The washboard is deep and plentiful and there are some ruts and rocks so expect to take 20-30 minutes just to do the 3.5 miles up the road. There’s also quite a bit of traffic on the weekend, so you’ll probably be behind a slowpoke or two if you don’t get here early. Lots of room in the parking lot even into the afternoon. Last note, plenty of sharp rocks so be kind to your tires and take it slow. I went on highway tires and was fine, but your mileage may vary.
 
Posted By: Tornadoman
Info: I was quite worried about this road after looking at some of the recent comments on other messages boards (people acting like it’s Lake Como Road). I made it up and down with no problems in a 2007 Corolla (no scrapes/rocks hitting bottom, etc). It does have washboards and plenty of rocks, but nothing too bad.
Just take it slow, and the good thing is this road is interstate wide so if there are a couple bigger rocks you want to avoid, TONS of room to do so.
 
Posted By: HikerGuy
Info: One bumpy ass road, but nothing that would stop any vehicle. Very busy trailhead. Slept in car overnight without any issues.
 
Posted By: CaptainSuburbia
Info: Road is completely dry to parking lot and 2wd accessible.
 
Posted By: angry
Info: Mostly dry, a few patches of snow of no consequence.
 
Posted By: Erratic101
Info: The sign showing the turn off to start the Zapata Lake trail has been removed. The bench is still there, but pay close attention to the plants and trees in the pic for the turn off.
1 
Posted By: angry
Info: 2WD, dry to TH.
 
Posted By: bangerth
Info: Road is clear and, as far as trailhead access roads are concerned, in about as good a shape as one can hope: I got to the trailhead with my 2WD Honda Civic without scraping the car’s bottom once on a rock. Granted, it was slow (30-40 minutes each way, for the 2.8 miles) and often required swerving over the entire width of the road, but it’s possible.
 
Posted By: Hjelmstadlt
Info: Trail is dry and clear of snow for the first 3.5 miles, after that the snow is on the trail in patches but can be avoided, this continues approx. half a mile. The last mile the trail is covered in snow and you have two options for the remaining distance to the lake. Attempt to follow the trail through the trees on the north aspects and most definitely posthole a lot or stick to the south aspects/north of the creek and enjoy hard concrete like snow or walking on dry talus. Micro spikes would be helpful if you’re not comfortable on slippery stuff.
 
Posted By: bigsky17
Info: We reached the trailhead parking lot at about 7:00 yesterday night and were greeted by 2 forest service workers and several fire fighters. Turns out that there was a fire near the trailhead and they had evacuated the entire campground. My jeep was the only vehicle there. They hurried me out pretty quick. Although we saw several more emergency vehicle’s and they had the road blocked, we never did see a fire or even any smoke.
 
Posted By: elenitamg2
Info: This was a VERY bumpy road in a a standard Prius- but we made it eventually! It probably took 45 minutes to get to trail head going between 5-15 mph, and had to pull over to let bigger cars pass a few times. The road has a lot of loose rocks that jump up and taking a 4wd or car with higher clearance would definitely be worth it. Still, there were a good amount of low clearance vehicles we saw. This road seems like it might fit better into a higher difficulty category... for some cars at least.
 
Posted By: E_A_Marcus_949
Info: Easy road for both sedans and SUVs. There are a lot of tourists that don’t know how to drive on dirt roads though, so feel free to go past them - sitting in a row of 8+ cars behind trucks and SUVs that don’t know how to drive on dirt roads is not the best use of time. Lots of parking in the camping loops. Steep trail up to the lake. Good camping at treeline.
 
Posted By: JasonKline
Info: My Elantra had no problem getting to the trailhead. It’s really bumpy, but OK for any car if you take it slow.
 
Posted By: grahampa
Info: Trailhead was completely dry and accessible by any vehicle. Some 2wd might have to take it quite slow in sections but will make it no problem. had a light dusting of snow but saw about 20 cars at the campground so this seems to be a popular winter spot to hike or camp.
 
Posted By: psa954hiker
Info: Took the road to Zapata Falls yesterday in a Toyota Sienna with no problem (a little higher clearance 2WD). Today followed a Prius coming down (low clearance 2WD), and he was taking it slowly. Moral of the story: high clearance vehicles will have no problem. Low clearance vehicles will make it, but slowly. Think of a standard washboard dirt road, except that the washboard effect comes from a continuous supply of embedded rocks and ruts, some of them quite jarring. Probably more like a 2 than a 1 on the road condition scale.
 
Posted By: Misi197
Info: Read reports about taking a low clearance 2WD up to Zapata Creek and thought about rolling up in the Civic. Glad I did not. The road has a lot of exposed rock and washboard in most corners. As I was coming down today I watched several folks turn around in the small, low clearance rides. Perhaps if you took it very slow and didn’t mind a few scrapes, you could make it work. But as someone who has take the Civic to Kite Lake, the gate at Sherman and even up to Grays and Torreys, I was surprised at the condition of the road given previous reports and the number of tourists going to the falls. Hopefully some maintenance will happen soon.
 
Posted By: bdloftin77
Info: Slightly bumpy/rough road, but passable by most 2wd sedans. (though at varying speeds). Dry conditions.
 
Posted By: Gene913
Info: no difficulty getting FWD 4DR standard clearance sedan to TH.
 
Posted By: hberry
Info: Passenger cars can make it to the trail head, albeit slowly. The hike from the TH to the lake is listed as 3.8 miles in the route description and 4 miles based on the sign at the turn off - from the car to the lake I clocked it at 5 miles. Most reports online seem to agree its well over 4 miles.
 



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