“a photographer's waterfall paradise”
Bridal Veil Falls is a 365 foot (111 m) waterfall at the end of the box canyon overlooking Telluride, Colorado. Hiking and off-road trails pass by the falls and the power plant at its top. In winter the frozen shape of the falls forms an imposing challenge to intrepid ice climbers. Bridal Veil Falls is a two pronged waterfall. The trail past the falls continues on to mountain meadows and mountain lakes above 10,000 feet (3,000 m). The house/power plant atop the falls was restored, operated and lived in (1991–2010) by Eric Jacobson. The power generated now provides about 25 percent of Telluride's demand for electricity. The plant was originally used to power the Smuggler-Union Mine and in winter requires an aerial tramway for access. It is the second-oldest operating AC generator in the United States, the first being the nearby Ames Hydroelectric Generating Plant by Ophir, Colorado. The Idarado Mining Company now owns and operates the power plant. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Smuggler-Union Hydroelectric Power Plant. The falls were opened briefly in the 1990s to ice climbers, but the area is private property so climbing has been legally prohibited since. Referred to as a "mega classic" and "the most difficult waterfall ice climb in North America" some climbers have trespassed to take a crack at the imposing and dangerous climb, but a land purchase proposal and an insurance deal may change the situation. Climbers were excited by the proposal in 2008 that would reopen the falls to climbers. Legendary climbers Jeff Lowe (climber) and Mike Wiess were known to have been the first to summit the falls in 1978, the effort having been broadcast on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The area around Bridal Veil Falls is subject to avalanche and controlled shelling to create controlled slides is an event popular with spectators and photographers. Reaching the top of the falls in winter can be a precarious venture, even for the experienced family that call the plant home.
The falls are beautiful, but I would recommend driving up the gravel road to the falls rather than hiking, as many people do. It is a moderate hike that took my brother and I two and a half hours. However, you don't hike on an actual trail but a 4wd gravel road which was lame and stressful with all the cars coming through as it is a popular area. Definitely need to go early if driving because there are only so many parking spots at the top. Another advantage of driving is that you save time so you could hike from the falls to Ajax peak.
I came through in October and drove by the falls on my way down the Black Bear pass 4WD trail. I strongly suggest you avoid this path unless you are a very experienced off-road driver. Basically, if you are on your way up, turn right towards the power plant (old house looking thing), not left up Black Bear. Bridal Veil itself was pretty much just a trickle at the time, I would imagine the spring is the time to see it but I would check in advance.
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Bridal Veil Falls
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