About Bridal Veil Falls and Ingram Falls
Bridal Veil Falls was said to be the tallest permanent free-falling waterfall in the state of Colorado at 365ft.
Obviously when we first were made aware of the falls, it was high on our priority list, especially when we also learned that it was near the very scenic Alps-like ski-resort town of Telluride.
So adding all these things together, we greatly anticipated a visit here when the opportunity presented itself as we decided to do a Desert Southwest trip to the Four Corner states, which included southwestern Colorado.
However, on our first visit here in late April 2017, the waterfall was mostly frozen and the 4wd road to get closer was snowed in.
That said, we came back in late July 2020, and that was when we finally experienced this waterfall as it should be experienced, which you can get a sense of in the photo above.
It turned out that on our 2020 visit, they recently completed a new trail that went directly up to the base of Bridal Veil Falls while passing by a pair of intermediate waterfalls along the way.
Prior to that, the only way to get close to the waterfall was by either walking or driving a rough 4wd road.
Neighboring the Bridal Veil Falls was also Ingram Falls, which was the waterfall that was easily seen from within the town of Telluride (and easily mistaken for Bridal Veil Falls).
Ingram Falls was lighter flowing compared to Bridal Veil Falls, but depending on its flow, Ingram Creek could present a stream crossing obstacle.
As of this writing, authorities have said that they’re trying to complete a bridge over the creek on the new trail, but it was a pretty trivial crossing when we did this hike.
Speaking of the hike to get close to Bridal Veil Falls, we were now presented with various options as a result of this new trail.
For example, we could choose to do the new trail on the way up and on the way back down.
We could also choose to go old school and just hike the open 4wd road on the way up and back down.
However, we feel that you get the best of both worlds by going up on the new trail and then returning by the open 4wd road, and this is how we’ll do the trail description on this write-up.
Hiking to the Base of Bridal Veil Falls via the New Trail
The new trail to the base of Bridal Veil Falls opened in May 2020 and is called the Bridal Veil Creek Trail.
It was a collaboration between the Telluride Mountain Club, San Juan County, Telluride, and the Idarado Mining Company.
I’d imagine that there was a lot of motivation to get this trail set up to reduce the amount of foot traffic on the 4wd road that had previously provided the only means of getting close to Bridal Veil Falls and beyond.
The Idarado Mining Company might have also been as motivated to have this trail set up so there would likely be less trespassing incidents since they own a lot of the land in this area.
The payoffs for doing this single-track trail pretty much involved increased shade from lots of vegetation around it as well as a pair of spur paths leading to intermediate waterfalls on Bridal Veil Creek.
It also provided a bit of variety because it passed alongside lots of volcanic rock hinting at the geology responsible for the waterfall itself.
I personally didn’t find this trail any easier than the 4wd road despite its slightly shorter distance (roughly 1.4 miles) because it was noticeably steeper (the trail gained over 800ft in that stretch).
This elevation gain was especially taxing for hikers not acclimated to the high altitude (the trailhead began at over 9000ft). Case in point, both my wife and daughter really struggled with this trail and took frequent breaks to catch their breaths.
In any case, the new trail began right from the start of the trailhead parking lot (see directions below).
From there, the trail immediately started to ascend up to the 4wd Road before the trail veered away from it and make its undulating uphill meander towards both Ingram Creek and Bridal Veil Creek.
At about a half-mile into the hike, the trail made a steep descent towards Ingram Creek, which was dry during our late July 2020 visit (though it was flowing further upstream).
This crossing was at the unfinished bridge so it may be complete by the time you read this. Otherwise, it could pose a challenge if Ingram Creek would be running high earlier in the season like late Spring or early Summer.
Beyond Ingram Creek, the trail continued its generally uphill meander before reaching an unsigned spur roughly 3/4-mile from the trailhead or 1/4-mile beyond the Ingram Creek Crossing.
This spur trail led about 200ft or so to the base of an impressive intermediate waterfall on Bridal Veil Creek.
There were more tiers further downstream of the falls so it was actually higher than what the photo above would suggest.
Nevertheless, it was a nice chill spot before continuing on with the Bridal Veil Falls hike.
Back on the main trail, in another quarter-mile or so, it reached another unsigned junction where the path on the right led briefly to a second impressive cascade on Bridal Veil Creek.
This one seemed to get more visitors because it was closer to the main trail, and I even noticed some people make the steep scramble to get all the way down to the plunge pool by its base.
In another 0.1-mile beyond the unsigned spur for the second cascade on Bridal Veil Creek, we then reached a signed three-way trail junction with the Ingram Creek Spur Trail.
Going left at this junction would eventually lead back up to the 4wd road so we kept right to continue on the still-ascending hike to the base of Bridal Veil Falls.
Finally, after another 0.3 miles of more uphill hiking, we eventually made it up to the viewing area at the base of Bridal Veil Falls.
Due to the forced perspective at its base, the view from here certainly made the waterfall seem quite a bit smaller than what it appeared like when viewed from the trailhead.
In any case, there was also a pullout area with room for a handful of 4wd vehicles and some port-a-potties for those who have a rugged-enough vehicle to handle the craters, steep grades, and rocks on the road to get here.
Because of the high-altitude struggles that my wife and daughter had with this trail, it took us nearly 2.5 hours to do the 1.4-mile hike to get here.
Hiking back to the Trailhead via the 4wd Road
After having our fill of the base of Bridal Veil Falls, we eventually headed back to the trailhead along the 4wd road for about 1.7 miles.
In addition to the variety and the views that the 4wd road offered (since most of it was above the trees), we also knew that it was easier to socially distance on the road than the Bridal Veil Creek Trail.
Indeed, the 4wd road had a much gentler grade, and we enjoyed the views downhill towards Telluride as well as over our shoulders back towards the context of Bridal Veil Falls and the Idarado Power Station perched at its brink.
Towards the bottom of the 4wd road, I recalled getting more contextual views of both Ingram Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in the same frame.
And instead of descending the last switchback, I just rejoined the early part of the Bridal Veil Creek Trail to directly return to the trailhead parking to end the hike.
By going up the Bridal Veil Creek Trail and back down the 4wd road, the round-trip distance was about 3.1 miles according to our trip logs.
However, the round-trip distance by exclusively using the 4wd road (i.e. the old school way of doing it) would be on the order of about 3.4 miles or so without any additional detours.
With the side excursions to the intermediate waterfalls on Bridal Veil Creek, then the round-trip distance would be closer to around 4 miles round-trip.
Continuing Beyond the Base of Bridal Veil Falls
I actually did a little more exploration beyond the base of the Bridal Veil Falls just to see what it was like.
I managed to do this by continuing up the 4wd road as there was no more foot trail beyond the base of Bridal Veil Falls.
During the course of the additional mile that I hiked along the road, I was treated to additional birdseye views towards Telluride, closer unobstructed views of the cascading Ingram Falls, and more commanding profile views of Bridal Veil Falls with its power station.
In fact, I’d argue some of my best views of Bridal Veil Falls and the power station were from the second switchback beyond the base of Bridal Veil Falls.
However, upon taking the the spur trail towards the power station at the brink of Bridal Veil Falls, I learned that it was closed during my visit so that was a bit of an anticlimax.
I did have the option of doing a very extended hike towards backcountry lakes like the Silver Lake Basin as well as the Bridal Veil Basin, which a couple of hikers I met recommended doing.
I also had the option of continuing up the 4wd switchbacks to the Black Bear Pass Steps above the brink of Ingram Falls.
But given how much it took out of me just to even get up to the power station at the brink of Bridal Veil Falls, I was content to turn back from there.
The total distance I wound up hiking was on the order of 5.5 miles with 1300ft net elevation gain, and it took me roughly 5 hours to complete with all the photo stops along the way.
Bridal Veil Falls – the mysterious waterfall in the Jeep TV Commercial
On a loosely related note, I remembered an old Jeep TV Commercial years back where an attractive lady at a diner saw a guy she was interested in.
She proceeded to drop him a crumpled up napkin (making us think it was probably her phone number).
But when the dude drove his jeep up a narrow cliff-hugging road and eventually wound up at a waterfall where she was there about to do a hike, we later learned that she had scrawled latlong coordinates.
After all, “Jeep Wrangler owners speak their own language”.
At the time, I had always wondered which waterfall it was that allowed you to drive up to its top like that.
I started to suspect it could be the Bridal Veil Falls in Telluride once I was finally made aware that this waterfall existed.
Now that there’s youTube, I finally found the commercial, did a screen-capture of the note, and finally got the coordinates.
When I put those coordinates on my Topo Map, lo and behold, it was indeed Telluride’s Bridal Veil Falls!
I don’t think I’ll be seeing “Jenny” up there, but I definitely look forward to coming back here to fully experience this excursion.
Bridal Veil Falls resides in the town of Telluride in San Miguel County, Colorado. It is administered by the town of Telluride. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
Once you get to the town of Telluride, driving to spots where you can view Bridal Veil Falls was pretty straightforward.
So from downtown Telluride, I basically continued driving east on Colorado Ave (the main drag through town) for about 2 miles past the Town Park.
The last half-mile was unpaved road as it was pretty much a mining and power plant access road.
Eventually, the unpaved road reached a somewhat large open space repurposed as the trailhead parking lot for the Bridal Veil Creek Trail.
This was at the very first switchback or turn before the road made its ascent as a rough and rugged 4wd road.
This was the stopping point for passenger vehicles that neither required 4wd nor high clearance to reach.
From this trailhead parking area, the road continues up more switchbacks.
However, it was definitely in rougher shape and clearly required at least high clearance and 4wd capability for both the vehicle’s suspension as well as traction.
For context, Telluride was 111 miles (over 2 hours drive) north of Durango, 126 miles (about 2.5 hours drive) southeast of Grand Junction, 330 miles (over 6 hours drive) southwest of Denver, 132 miles (under 3 hours drive) east of Moab, Utah, and 322 miles (about 6 hours drive) northwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico.