NORTH CREEK FALLS
Near Lake City, CO
Colorado has many wonderful falls, but these falls are one of the more dramatic in the state. In its peak spring and summer season, this waterfall rages over the cliff side.
The North Creek Falls are easy to access while driving on CO 149 about 26 miles east of Lake City, CO.
Trail Difficulty (2 out of 5)
I would rate the difficulty of this trail as a 2 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). The falls is an easy 200yd walk from the North Creek Falls parking lot, but the location of this shot is set on a ledge 100ft above the river. Caution is paramount when setting up for this shot.
GPS Coordinates & Elevation
11,664 Ft Elevation
Google Maps Birds-Eye-View
Click link above to view location in Google Earth
The following directions are from South Fork, CO (to the east) and Lake City, CO (from the west). Both are small towns in Southwest Colorado. The closest larger towns are Alomosa, CO (about 95 miles east) or Gunnison, CO (about 80 miles north).
From South Fork, travel 23 miles west on CO-149 to the little town of Creede. From Creede, continue on CO-149 N for 25 miles and the location is on the left (south) about a mile before you get to the North Clear Creek Falls Observation Site Forest Rd 510.
From Lake City, travel 26 miles east on CO-149. The location is on the right (south) about a mile past the North Clear Creek Falls Observation Site turnoff, Forest Rd 510.
When you see the green road sign for "North Clear Creek Falls" - turn and travel about 1/2 mile to parking area. The falls are a short walk from the parking area.
Best Time of Day to Shoot
The shot faces north and is best shot late afternoon to sunset.
Best Time of Year to Shoot
This location is nice in the spring and summer when the grass is green and the river/falls are running full.
The above shot was taken on June 6th
What Lens(es) Do You Need
The shot above was taken with a 24mm lens.
There are no permit required that I know of.ugue.
Direction of the Shot
The direction of the shot is north around 350°.
Special Nuances of Shot
You can shoot these falls from multiple angles and vantage points. The easiest place to shoot the falls in from the visitors area just off of the parking lot. I have also walked down to the creek to get a different perspective. The hike was difficult and the results were not much better.
Special Equipment Needed
You will need a tripod, ND filter (to slow the shutter speed to 1/2 second), and a polarizing filter.
Number of Other Photographers to Expect
This spot is off of the beaten path for most photographers - there may be a few other tourist or photographers at this location.
The weather in Colorado is normally mild in the summer and cold (lows in the 20’s) in the spring and fall. Having never been to this location in the winter, I am not sure the road is open or maintained that time of year.
I use Verizon and there was NO cell service at this location. However, there is cell service on the road back to South Fork or Lake City.
There are 2 nice small campgrounds within a few miles of this location (see USDA reservation website). However, they have limited openings:
The nearest lodging is in Lake City (26 miles west) or South Fork (23 miles east). Both are nice towns with lodging and restaurants. Lake City is a very small town that closes up early. South Fork is a larger town with more variety of lodging.
Nearby camping and lodging
Camping - click on the campground below for directions
Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review
Lodging in Lake City
Matterhorn Mountain Motel
409 Bluff Street, Lake City
Silver Spur Motel
301 N. Gunnison Ave, Lake City
Lodging in South Fork, CO
Allington Inn & Suites
182 E Frontage Rd, South Fork, CO
A. Spruce Lodge
329431 US-160, South Fork, CO
The nearest restaurants are in Lake City (26 miles west) or South Fork (23 miles east). Lake City is a very small town that closes up early. South Fork is a larger town with more variety of restaurants.
Nearby Restaurants - click on the restaurant below for yelp review
Restaurants in Lake City
Climb Elevated Eatery
808 Gunnison Ave, Lake City, CO
Cannibal Grill & Saloon
310 Silver St, Lake City, CO
Restaurants in South Fork, CO
31519 US-160, South Fork, CO
The Old Firehouse
230B Jackson St, South Fork, CO
The Five C's Laundromat is located at 20 Four Seasons Dr., South Fork.
Other Photography Opportunities Around
The closest airport is in Montrose, CO (MTJ). It is a nice regional airport that services American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines.
Area Guides and Workshops
The Photographer's Ephemeris is a very valuable tool for landscape photographers to determine the direction of the sunrise/sunset & moonrise/moonset from any place on earth on any day (past and future). Click here to take you to The Photographer's Ephemeris for this location.