Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls, Wild Basin Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls - 5.4 miles

Wild Basin Trailhead

Calypso Cascades

Calypso Cascades

Round-Trip Length: 5.4 miles (1.8 miles one-way to Calypso Cascades : 2.7 miles one-way to Ouzel Falls)
Start-End Elevation: 8,500' - 9,366' (9,366' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +866' net elevation gain (+902' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls - 5.4 Miles Round-Trip

Ouzel Falls drops 40' through a narrow chute and flows under a long bridge across Ouzel Creek. Ouzel Creek continues a short distance to a dramatic convergence with North St Vrain Creek, the Wild Basin Area's primary drainage.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

While the falls are impressive, the lively riparian corridor through which you'll pass is equally compelling. Visitors will enjoy moderate grades and miles of stream access for fishing and exploration. Arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds:

The trail rises gently beside North St Vrain Creek to spurs for Lower and Upper Copeland Falls (.35 and .45 miles).

Mild travel continues to the backcountry campsite access trail (1.35 miles : 8,860'), crosses the creek and climbs .45 miles to Calypso Cascades (1.8 miles : 9,108').

Calypso Cascades - powered by Cony Creek - fan out across a steep granite cliff. It flows under two long bridges above the confluence with North St Vrain Creek.

The trail winds past Calypso Cascades up a north-facing valley wall, passing for a short time through an area stricken by the 1978 Ouzel Fire (2.0 miles : 9,100').

Grasses and wildflowers brighten these once charred hillsides, while young aspen and pine emerge in replenished soils. Downed trees open the forest to sweeping views of Mt Meeker, Longs Peak and the northern Wild Basin Area.

A moderate climb through lodgepole, spruce, and fir leads to Ouzel Falls (2.7 miles : 9,366') and a lengthy bridge across its turbulent base.

Social trails leads from either side of the bridge to closer views of the falls, but climbing the falls is strongly discouraged, as the terrain is uneven and deceptively slick. Exercise caution when scrambling, and maintain a safe distance from moving water.

Those with time may consider continuing to Ouzel Lake or Bluebird Lake, 2.25 miles and 3.65 miles up from the falls, respectively.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N40 12.464 W105 33.990 — 0.0 miles : Wild Basin Trailhead
  • N40 12.230 W105 34.391 — .45 miles : Spur to Upper Copeland Falls
  • N40 12.051 W105 34.982 — 1.0 mile mark
  • N40 12.022 W105 35.293 — 1.35 miles : Spur to backcountry campsite access trail
  • N40 11.731 W105 35.426 — 1.8 miles : Calypso Cascades
  • N40 11.939 W105 35.788 — 2.25 mile mark
  • N40 11.919 W105 35.981 — 2.7 miles : Ouzel Falls

Worth Noting

  • Ouzel Falls and Ouzel Lake are named for the Ouzel - or Dipper - a small bird that dives into cold mountain streams and 'flies' underwater to catch insects on the bottom.

  • Fishing regulations are location-specific and subject to change. Check with a Ranger for current restrictions.

  • There are numerous back country campsites en route to Ouzel Falls and Lake. Check with the backcountry office well in advance, as they're popular sites that occasionally close due to bear activity.

  • The Wild Basin Area is heavily traveled; get an early start to avoid crowds and secure parking.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Backcountry Campsites in the Wild Basin Area

Pine Ridge Backcountry Campsite

  • The Pine Ridge site is located 1.4 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead at 8,880'. There are 2individual sites and a privy. 2 backcountry sites are located in a lodgepole forest north of the trail, just east of the bridge across North St. Vrain Creek. A food storage cable is about 8 steps past the spur to site #1. It's in a small clearing to the left and runs perpendicular to the trail. Obtain water from North St. Vrain Creek.

Tohosa Backcountry Campsite

  • The Tohosa site is located 1.7 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead at 9,040'. There is 1 individual site and no privy. The site is located .3 miles up the unimproved, backcountry campsite access trail in a lodgepole stand at the edge of a small rocky bluff. Obtain water from North St. Vrain Creek, approx. 160 yards downhill from the site.

Aspen Knoll Backcountry Campsite

  • The Aspen Knoll site is located 2.3 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead at 9,400'. There is 1 individual site and no privy. The site is located along the unimproved, backcountry campsite access trail in a mixed aspen-spruce-lodgepole forest. Obtain water from North St. Vrain Creek, approximately 200 yards downhill from the site.

Siskin Backcountry Campsite

  • The Siskin site is located 3.2 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead at 9,460'. There is 1 individual site and no privy. The site is located along the unimproved, backcountry campsite access trail in a lodgepole stand. Obtain water from North St. Vrain Creek, approx. 135 yards downhill from the site.

North St Vrain Backcountry Campsite

  • The North St Vrain site is located 3.5 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead at 9,560'. There are 2 individual sites and a privy. The sites are located along the unimproved, backcountry campsite access trail, right where it rejoins the main trail. A food storage cable is located 20 steps up the access trail in a small clearing on the left, and parallel to the trail. The sites lie in a thick lodgepole stand on the north side of the trail, just after it crosses North St. Vrain Creek. Obtain water from North St. Vrain Creek.

Thunder Lake Backcountry Campsite

  • The Thunder Lake site is located 6.8 miles from the Wild Basin Trailhead at 10,574'. There are 3 individual sites, 1 group site, and 1 stock site. The individual sites are located in a forested area north of the trail about 300 yards east of the lake. The stock site is about 100 yards from the lake on the south side of the trail and slightly east of the hitchrack. Obtain water from Thunder Lake's outlet stream.

Ouzel Lake Backcountry Campsite

  • The Ouzel Lake site is located 4.9 miles from the Wild Basin Trailhead at 10,020'. There is 1 individual site and a privy available. The site is located north of the trail and east of the privy in a mixed lodgepole, spruce, and fir forest. Obtain water from the lake's inlet stream.

Upper Ouzel Creek Backcountry Campsite

  • The Upper Ouzel Creek site is located 5.6 miles from the Wild Basin Trailhead at 10,600', approximately .7 miles below Bluebird Lake. There is 1 individual site available, located north of the trail above the hitchrack and natural terraces. Obtain water from the creek.

Rules and Regulations

  • A $20 Day Use Fee is required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park (or $30 for a 7 Day Pass).
  • Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Directions to Trailhead

From Boulder, take Highway 36 north 14 miles to the town of Lyons. Remain on 36 to the Highway 7 intersection. Turn left onto Highway 7 towards Allenspark. Remain on Highway 7 and look for the Wild Basin Trailhead entrance on the left (approximately 37 miles from Boulder). Turn left on the dirt road to the entrance station .15 miles ahead. The Wild Basin Trailhead is located 2.3 miles from the entrance station.

Contact Information

Rocky Mountain National Park
Visitor Information:

Backcountry Office:

Campground Reservations:

Emergency Dispatch:

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Weekend parking is getting ridiculous in Wild Basin. You have to arrive early (before 10) or face having to walk 1-2 miles up the road. When I returned yesterday the lot was closed off by rangers and people were walking up the road like it was Main Street."
Margaret Powers  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: June 19, 2017
"The trail is fairly passable after a good amount of holiday use, but Wild Basin road is closed at the winter parking gate near the entrance station - you'll have to walk or ski the (long) road to reach the trailhead."
Pete Chaplin  -   -  Date Posted: November 29, 2015
"I now have my most favorite hike in all of Colorado! I went on a beautiful Saturday in the height of tourist season and thoroughly enjoyed my day hiking up to Ouzel Falls. It was about 75-80 degrees and sunny, absolutely perfect. Even though we passed many people along the trail it never seemed too crowded. We had to wait about 5 minutes to get a parking space since we arrived around 11:00. The trail is well maintained and a joy to walk. The views are spectacular. The pristine mountain air and clear water of the creek were refreshing and delightful. Many great photo ops. The rangers were friendly and helpful. I highly recommend this wonderful jewel of the Rocky Mountains."
SpecScene  -  Arvada Colorado  -  Date Posted: August 24, 2015
"We hiked to Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls. It was 25 degrees, no wind, very foggy, and there was a dusting of snow on everything. It was more beautiful, in my opinion, than in the summer. The fog and the silence were enchanting. The first of the fall leaves are just mixing with the last of the summer flowers. We saw around 15 people all day, so not crowded. The bridge is still gone at Ouzel Falls but there is a temporary trail to the falls. There was still plenty of water since we've had a rainy summer so the falls were great! This was my favorite hike this year!"
voxwife  -  Longmont  -  Date Posted: September 17, 2014
"Hiked up to Calypso Cascades today. You have to park in the Winter Parking Area which is about a mile to the ranger station and the trailhead. The road is mostly covered with snow but it is very soft. The road to the Winter Parking Area is very rutted in places but no problem getting there. The trail from the ranger station to the Cascades is completely covered with snow 1-3' deep. The bridges are all covered with snow but passable. Snowshoes are recommended, I did the hike with boots and chains and I wish I had my snowshoes. It's a 3 mile hike to the Cascades. The bridge over Ouzel Falls was washed away so I didn't go that way. Ranger told me it will be over a month before road to trailhead will be open."
gr82swm  -   -  Date Posted: April 11, 2014


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