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On Walkabout At: Seven Falls, Colorado

Basic Information

Narrative

Colorado Springs has a variety of tourist attractions with one of the most popular being the Seven Falls.  From just about every road leading into Colorado Springs as well as every brochure about this great city; advertisements can be seen promoting Seven Falls.  So is it worth checking out?  Hopefully this posting will help anyone thinking about visiting the Seven Falls make that determination.  First of all the Seven Falls is pretty easy to access since it is located near other popular local attractions such as the Broadmooor Hotel and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo:


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The easiest way to get to Seven Falls is to exit off of I-25 at Lake Avenue and follow the road until it ends in front of the Broadmoor Hotel.  At the hotel take a right at the traffic circle and then take a left at the next traffic circle.  A sign on the right pointing out the turn to the Seven Falls should be visible.  Just follow the sign to the Seven Falls.  There is an archway that denotes the entrance to the Seven Falls and once vehicles pass underneath it they enter into South Cheyenne Canyon.  The two massive rock walls that surround the road when driving into the canyon are known as the “Pillars of Hercules”:

The drive into South Cheyenne is simply spectacular.  I have been to Seven Falls more times than I can remember and driving into the canyon is still impressive every time I go there.  The road into the canyon follows South Cheyenne Creek and here is a wagon setup next to the creek that shows the gold mining heritage of the region:

A short ways after driving into the canyon there is a checkpoint where each vehicle pays the entry fee.  From there each vehicle is given a number to an assigned parking spot.  Parking is one of the biggest issues with Seven Falls.  During the busy summer tourist season the canyon has run out of parking and they close the road from more vehicles driving in.  This is why I avoid the Seven Falls during the summer tourism season because it is just too busy there.  If you plan on visiting the falls during the summer make sure to arrive first thing in the morning to ensure you can get a parking space.  After paying the entry fee there is a lower parking lot which is the only location that has a restroom available for visits:

There is a visitor center near the waterfall, but it does not have public restrooms.  For people wanting to use the restroom later on they have to walk down the canyon to this location.  So it is easier to just use the restroom here before driving up to the waterfall.  The lower parking lot is also a nice area to checkout the beautiful creek flowing down the canyon from the waterfall:

Depending on the time of year when visiting Seven Falls the canyon can be filled with various wildflowers:

Something else my wife and I saw from the lower parking lot was a couple of deer that were drinking from the creek and quickly ran up the hill side when they spotted us:

It is not uncommon to see wildlife in this area of Colorado Springs bordering the mountains.  I have a friend who lives in the neighborhood near the Seven Falls that actually complains about too many deer getting into his yard and eating his flowers.  Anyway the lower parking lot is also a good area to take in views of the steep rock walls of the canyon:

There also a number of interesting rock formations to checkout as well:

After spending some time at the lower parking lot my family and I drove the short distance up the canyon to our assigned parking spot.  From there we walked up to the visitor center at the base of the waterfall:

The visitor center is your typical tourist trap that has a large gift shop selling Colorado related products as well as a snack bar that sells simple food such as hamburgers and hot dogs.  Something that kids will really like at Seven Falls is that outside the snack bar there are a lot of squirrels looking for food.  My daughter had a blast playing with the squirrels:

Outside the visitor there is plenty of signs that explains the history of the Seven Falls.  What I find most amazing about Seven Falls is that this incredible canyon and waterfall is privately owned.  Here is a brief history of Seven Falls from its website:

James Hull

On December 5, 1872, Nathaniel Colby homesteaded the 160 acres that included the present-day Seven Falls and South Cheyenne Canyon. Apparently Colby did not anticipate the potential value of his purchase, for nine months later he sold the patent to the Colorado Springs Land company for $1000.

Later owners realized little profit from the land until 1882 when James Hull purchased the property for $1300. Mr. Hull was a naturalist who was disturbed to note the scenic beauty of the canyon was being threatened by the felling of trees for their lumber value. Hull had already purchased 160 acres west of Seven Falls for $500 and later secured an additional 80 acres by preemption in 1885. With 400 acres including the heart of the canyon Hull became one of Colorado’s earliest environmental protectors and the first owner to fully appreciate the true value of this scenic masterpiece.

Hull was also a businessman, and he understood the value of the “ranch” as it was then called. He advertised the property as a scenic resort and began to improve it by constructing a road through the canyon to the Seven Falls and building a stairway along the side of the Falls. He installed a toll gate at the foot of the canyon and proceeded to do business. Access to the Falls in those days was largely by carriages, burros and saddle horses furnished by a local entrepreneur named Hunter who paid James Hull and his sons $500 for the privilege of taking passengers to the Falls for 25 cents each. Business flourished and Seven Falls became a prominent tourist attraction.

In 1900 after Hull’s sons took over the property the county assessor valued the property at $80,000 while the local newspaper, The Gazette, suggested the value at over $200,000. In 1905 the property now containing 1400 acres was purchased by C.D. Weimer for $250,000.  [SevenFalls.com]

Today this privately held land is a top tourist attraction in the city due to the scenic wonder of the canyon and its beautiful waterfall.  It is great that Hull had the foresight to see what an attraction the canyon could be all those years ago and decided to protect it.

Next to the visitor center there is a dam that creates a little pond where ducks and rainbow trout can be found.  During the spring and early summer this pond is completely full, however when we visited Seven Falls in late summer the pond had pretty much dried up though fish could still be seen swimming in what water was left:

Here is the view of Seven Falls as seen from its base behind the visitor center:

The stairs that climb up the side of the waterfall lead to the Inspiration Point Trail which is a short hiking course that leads to original grave of the famed author Helen Hunt that used to live in Colorado Springs.  Most people who visit the waterfall though do not climb up the stairs and instead take the Mountain Elevator that takes visitors up to a look out 140 feet above the canyon:

The elevator is located at the end of a tunnel that was dug out of the solid rock walls of the canyon.  Along the side of tunnel is a number of displays that provide interesting information about the Seven Falls, the geology of South Cheyenne Canyon, and the animals that call the canyon home:

From the lookout the views of the canyon are really impressive:

The rugged rocks of the canyon is very scenic:

Here is a picture of the visitor center down below:

Finally here is a picture of Seven Falls from the lookout:

The light conditions when I took the picture were not that great, but nevertheless I think the photo of the Seven Falls still came out pretty good.  Something I found interesting when reading up about the history of the canyon is that Native-Americans that used to live here such as the Ute and Cheyenne would chase deer up this valley and trap here at the waterfall.  From there they had no where to go and were thus easier to hunt.  I thought that was a pretty clever idea by the Native-Americans.  There are still Native-Americans who visit the Seven Falls, but they are no longer there to hunt.  Instead they are invited every summer by the owners of the waterfall to put on Indian dances for visitors.  As I explained before, I do not visit Seven Falls during the prime summer tourist season because of how busy the place gets, so I have not seen any of the Indian dances at the falls.  So if anyone has seen the dances please leave a comment and share with everyone what you thought about the performance.  Something else I found of interest when researching the falls was that Babe Ruth once visited Seven Falls back in 1938 where he hit a baseball an estimated 266 feet to the top of the Seven Falls.  Unfortunately there are no pictures of the Babe’s visit which would have been interesting to see as well.

Conclusion

My family and I spent about 30 minutes hanging out at the lookout and checking out the small gift shop near the elevator.  There are benches up there to sit down on and take in the view.  It really is a beautiful site up there that is worth the price of admission in my opinion much less the opportunity to check out everything else Seven Falls has to offer.

Next Posting: Seven Falls and The Inspiration Point Trail

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