Zapata Falls is a Bureau of Land Management Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA). There are 23 single campsites, one group site, and one campsite host. The campground is located on BLM road 5415, seven miles southwest of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The campground sits at 9,000 feet at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It offers sweeping views of the San Luis Valley, the San Juan Mountains and nearby Great Sand Dunes National Park—plus spectacular sunrises, sunsets and night skies.
A new trailhead in the campground supplies a link to the South Zapata Creek Trail # 852, and the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. A second trail, North Fork South Zapata Trail # 868, just above the campground in the day-use area, leads visitors on a mildly steep half-mile hike to the falls that give the campground its name.
Getting to the falls is an adventure in itself, involving a wade through cold creek water and a climb over slick boulders. The falls are located on land owned by the Colorado State Land Board, and people who visit them need to be cautious and realize that the climb can be risky.
Zapata Falls campsites, one group site and one camp host site are spaced around two, one-mile-long loops. The sites on one loop are designed for tent campers. Parking spurs on the second loop vary a little in length but in general can handle RVs, towed campers or other configurations of vehicles up to about 50 feet long. Each single site has a picnic table, fire grate, parking and tent pads and a bear-proof food locker. The accessible group site has three picnic tables, three tent pads and a group fire ring. The campground is open year round but access in the winter can be difficult - call ahead for conditions. QUIET HOURS & no generator use 10 pm - 7 am. For more information, please contact the San Luis Valley Field Office.
ADA Access: Two sites are ADA Accessible
The road up is rough. We knew that based on reviews, however, based on the reviews I expected a payout of an awesome campground at the top with great views of the Sand Dunes. The campground did have views but it’s of the farming valley below not the Sand Dunes. The sites were not very level and while some what spaced out not in any way private. Most were along the road that comes in.
We ended up going back down disappointed. The National Park was full so we stayed at the Oasis. Not much in the way of level campsites again, but hot showers and a bit more private.
I just really enjoy the layout of this campground, the nice big bear boxes, and the park ranger who has a cat in his truck sometimes when he cruises around.
Nice being so close to Sandunes and there’s 1/2 price camp spots for those with access passes to the national parks
Beautiful camp sites that are perfect for visiting Great Sand Dunes NP. The views are incredible, there are restrooms, fire pits, and all sites are well marked. The road up is long and bumpy but well worth it once you’re there. The only downside about this campground for me was that the sites were a little close together and we could always see our neighbors. That being said, I would absolutely stay here again and recommend it to anyone heading out to the park.
We camped here during the winter while the car camping in Great Sand Dunes national park was closed. It's about 10 miles from the park and the view of the dunes and the valley is gorgeous. The road in is a little bumpy, but sedans were definitely able to make it.
The campground doesn't have a whole lot of trees and some of the sites are close together, but in the quieter winter season we had plenty of privacy. Campground has pit toilets, fire rings, tent pad, picnic table, but no running water.
The nearby hike to Zapata falls is worthwhile too, especially in winter for the giant ice sheets in the canyon.
Bumpy drive up, but my Honda Accord made it fine. There were a few spots left when we arrived in March on a Saturday. It was a very windy, but sunny. I would stay here again!
The road to Zapata Falls is super rough but passenger cars shouldn't have any problem as long as you keep it slow. The campground itself is zigzagged along the hillside. There are big firepits, picnic tables and bearsafe lockers for your food at every site. Some sites have tarps laid out where ideal tent sites are. There are multiple RV sites as well. The camp host is super friendly and does a good job upkeeping the grounds. The is no water access and pit-toilets. There is hand sanitizer in every bathroom though. Just a heads up, the country store down the road towards Great Sand Dunes was closed for the season when we visited, so make sure you have plenty of ice and gas.
We stayed here to be close to Great Sand Dunes. We got in late at night and the road was very rough and harder to follow after dark. The campsites are set up on the hillside and offer very little flat space. They do have tent pads so you don't have to worry about sleeping on too much of a pitch. They also include picnic tables, fire rings, and bear lockers. They are serviced by pit toilets. We were not able to find running water, but it may have just been because we were there in the winter.
It was a very cold night on the mountain side and got down to 14 degrees, so be ready for that if you are going in the winter.
We hiked to the waterfall in the morning and it was well worth it. The view from the trail head was very pretty and we were glad we saw it.
The payment machine was broken while we were there and it ended up being by donation. We gladly paid to stay.
This was our last night camping in Colorado and it was beautiful!
it’s windy up there but if you can get it if it’s not reserved grab the handicapped site by the campsite host, the view is amazing and it’s very accessible