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 Observation Site is easy to access along the Silverthread Scenic Byway, Hwy 149.

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

37°50'57.05"N 107° 9'1.20"W

11,664 Ft Elevation

Click on GPS coordinates above for a Google map to the location.

Decimal degree (DD) format:  37.849167, -107.150333

Google Maps Birds-Eye-View

Click on image to enlarge


You can get directions on Goggle Maps to the North Creek Falls by clicking this link. Once in Goggle Maps - click on the "Directions" button and type in your current location.

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. 

What Lens(es) Do You Need

The shot above was taken with a 24mm lens. 


There are no permit required that I know of.

Direction of the Shot

The direction of the shot is north @ 347°.

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.   


Historical Weather

Current Weather

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.

Cell Service

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.

Overnight Lodging/Camping

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

North Clear Creek Campground

Silver Thread Campground 

Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review

Lodging in Lake City

Matterhorn Mountain Motel
(970) 984-4574
409 Bluff Street, Lake City

Silver Spur Motel
(970) 944-2231
301 N. Gunnison Ave, Lake City

Lodging in South Fork, CO

Allington Inn & Suites
(800) 285-6590
182 E Frontage Rd, South Fork, CO

A. Spruce Lodge
(719) 873-5605
329431 US-160, South Fork, CO

Nearby Restaurants

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
(970) 944-5566
808 Gunnison Ave, Lake City, CO

Cannibal Grill & Saloon
(970) 944-4144
310 Silver St, Lake City, CO

Restaurants in South Fork, CO

(719) 873-0231
31519 US-160, South Fork, CO

The Old Firehouse
(719) 873-0169
230B Jackson St, South Fork, CO

Laundry Mat

The Five C's Laundromat is located at 20 Four Seasons Dr., South Fork.

Other Photography Opportunities Around

Click on an image below to move to that location

Airport Options

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


Other Resources

The Photographer's Ephemeris is a very valuable tool for landscape photographers to determine the direction of the sunrise/sunset & moonrise and 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. 

NOTE: The Photographer's Ephemeris uses the Decimal Degree (DD) format for GPS coordinates to access their locations. The Decimal Degree (DD) coordinates can be found in the GPS section above. 

Visit Lake City, CO

North Clear Creek Campground