Bear Creek Falls is one of many attractions that give the Million Dollar Highway its rich name. This dramatic waterfall blasts down into Bear Creek, making it a must stop if you’re traveling through.
This waterfall near Ouray is accessible year round for free. It’s a popular stop while exploring the fall foliage of the southwest Rockies.
Bear Creek Trail
There’s an optional, and steep, hike from Alberta Falls on Bear Creek Trail, which was built in the 1870s and rerouted in the 1890s. The trailhead goes across the tunnel, slightly before reaching the falls. The first 1-2 miles has a steep accent, with a total of 1000 vertical feet gained.
You’ll pass several small waterfalls and mines on the hike. It’s an in-and-out hike so the total distance is at most 14.2 miles if you go all the way to Engineer Pass. Most turn around at Grizzly Bear Mine 2.4 miles up or Yellow Jacket Mine 4.2 miles up.
From Ouray – Head south on US 550 for 2.9 miles until you reach the bridge. There’s a parking area for the overlook to Bear Creek Falls. It’s located on the San Juan Skyway, a national scenic byway that that houses the infamous Million Dollar Highway.
There is another Bear Creek Falls in Telluride, not to be confused with this one in Ouray.
Address: Highway 550, Ouray
Season: Year round – spring and summer are best