Chasm Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park’s closet thing to a Utah slot canyon. Located a little more than a mile up Fall River Road, Chasm falls is an impressive location to watch Fall River tumble through the aptly named slot of granite which violently funnels Fall River on down the mountainside towards its terminus with the Big Thompson River.
Old Fall River Road is the original right of way that tourists and visitors would travel through Rocky Mountain National Park. In fact, Fall River Road predates the inception of Rocky Mountain National Park and at one time was the only road connecting Larimer and Grand Counties. Trail Ridge Road is now the main thoroughfare through Rocky, but Old Fall River Road remains a popular destination when open for one-way car travel from July until early fall or the first snowfall.
The seasonal closure of Old Fall River Road makes Chasm Falls a great hiking destination the remaining portion of the year. With Fall River Road closed for the season and the parade of cars held at bay by a locked NPS brown gate, time spent photographing Chasm Falls is a far more intimate experience.
I’ve visited and photographed Chasm Falls many times in the past. Prior to this visit, I’ve always photographed Chasm Falls like most park visitors, by driving to it. Chasm Falls is in reality the first actual pull off along the steep windy road. Most visitors to Rocky Mountain stop here to view the falls on the way to the Alpine visitor center. Because it’s so popular in the summer with Fall River open to auto traffic, it can be difficult to connect with the place.
Edward Abbey, a favorite author of mine advocated removing all the roads from the National Parks. Abbey felt that if these natural areas were of such importance, visitors should have to put in the effort and see them on foot, in a more natural and less corrupted setting. While I don’t share Abbey’s viewpoint on the matter, spending time alone at Chasm Falls without the parade of auto’s and visitors made for a much more organic and enlightening experience.
Photographing alone at Chasm Falls, there were no distractions, no human voices or sounds of cars and car alarms. With only the sound of Fall River and the birds in the trees I was able to take my time, slow down, and really enjoy and connect with my surroundings. Abbey’s thoughts lingered in my head for the remainder of the day. My experience this day at Chasm Falls, devoid of cars and on foot was enlightening. Maybe Abbey was on to something?