Rainbow Falls in Manitou Springs

is just 1.1 miles from our house and would you believe we had never been there until last week?  First of all, it’s not well known and I had never heard of it until I saw an old time picture of it in a Manitou history book in town.  I showed the shop owner the picture to ask where it was and even she had never heard of it.


So we set off walking west along Fountain Creek which runs through town.  I’ve been reading Erin and Mui’s travels to Smokey Mountain NP and Erin takes such beautiful water pictures that I asked her how she gets the silky affect.  She said I needed a tripod, a slow shutter speed, and a neutral density filter. Thank you Erin!  I had the first two requirements and learned that if the water is shaded then the picture will be sort of okay without the filter.


There’s a small parking lot for the falls which now has a sign saying the county is going to develop this as a recreation area.  We could see why the falls are not advertised in any lists of tourist things to do because the short climb was rather difficult.  We had to walk in the water at one point and the informal trail is pretty rough in spots.  The upside is that we were the only people at Rainbow Falls once we reached it.


This is a series of three lower falls that we didn’t get close to because the descent was very steep and not doable for me.  There might have been another way down that we didn’t see and hopefully we’ll find it next time.  There’s a picnic table by the falls that would be perfect for a lunch break.


This tree was growing bent to make a tunnel which I’m sure children like.


                                        A lower falls


Rainbow Falls.  This picture absolutely doesn’t convey the setting the falls is in but my pictures were so bad I deleted every single one except this.  Since the sun was shining on the falls I found out why the neutral density filter is imperative for the silky look.

Also, another name (informal) for Rainbow Falls is “Graffiti Falls”.  Almost every inch of rock wall and every rock laying in the area was covered with graffiti.  It was sickening.  Go to Google Images and put in Rainbow Falls Manitou Springs and you will see.  On the other hand, there are some stunning pictures of the falls in winter and also some when the water is running stronger.  This wasn’t a good year for snow in the mountains so there isn’t as much runoff in the spring as usual.


I’m sure the water is clean enough to drink.  Manitou Springs water supply gets a 100% government rating as far as purity.  One of the main things I miss when we travel is having our great water to drink that even bottled water can’t come close to.


Through the trees, we noticed a big house with a tower above the creek on our walk home.  Manitou Springs is full of places to explore!

And P.S. I ordered a neutral density filter kit which arrived yesterday.  We have in mind to hopefully visit some other very beautiful falls before Steve goes back to work mid-May.  Seven years ago we tried to make the climb up to them and I wasn’t physically able to. I believe I can now.


  1. Great shots! You might try that hike again someday when it's overcast and a bit drizzly– the soft lighting and moisture on the rocks will perfectly compliment the “silky water” effect of slow shutter speeds.

    Hope you and Steve can take the Tracker out for some backroads driving as soon as the trails clear up– can't wait to see what pretty sights you discover!


  2. Thanks for the shout-out; you did great with the first shot and the natural cover to slow down the shutter speed. You'll find good uses for the neutral density filters. My G-12 carry around camera has a built in filter that I can turn on and off; I wish my SLR did as well. If your filter kit has a graduated filter, you'll find it very handy to even out bright skies and dark ground cover.


  3. Great tips, thanks! The kit didn't come with a graduated filter and I should have ordered one at the same time. Lynne had previously recommended one for shots where there is dark and light in the scene.

    I need to check into some tires for trail driving. The Tracker came with compound snow tires and don't know how those would do.

    A drizzly day here is a rare event but there's a better chance farther west in the mountains.


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