Seven Falls is a series of seven cascading waterfalls of South Cheyenne Creek in South Cheyenne Cañon, Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is a privately owned tourist attraction since in was opened in the early 1880s. Trails from the top of the falls lead to Midnight Falls, near the headwaters of South Cheyenne Creek, and Inspiration Point. The area sustained a significant flood in September 2013, which has closed Seven Falls until restoration is complete late Summer 2015 by The Broadmoor. The resort bought Seven Falls after it had been owned and operated by families since the 1880s.
Seven Falls is located in Colorado Springs along the Front Range. It is in a natural box canyon in South Cheyenne Cañon. The entrance to South Cheyenne Cañon is about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) southwest of downtown Colorado Springs on Cheyenne Boulevard. The South Cheyenne Cañon road to Seven Falls has been called "The Grandest Mile of Scenery" in Colorado. The falls are located in a 1,000 feet (300 m) granite canyon. Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, Juniper, and Blue Spruce are found in the Seven Falls park.
Just inside the entrance to the Seven Falls property is the Pillars of Hercules, which are 900 feet (270 m) high from the floor of the canyon. Across from the Pillars of Hercules is the George Washington profile. At this point, the canyon walls are just 41 feet (12 m) apart.
The sum of the height of the seven falls is 181 feet (55 m) and there are a total of 224 steps on the staircase from the base of the falls to the peak. There is a wheel-chair accessible elevator—that bypasses 185 of the 224 steps—to the Eagle's Nest observation platform.
The falls are named from top to bottom: Bridal Veil, Feather, Hill, Hull, Ramona, Shorty, and Weimer. Susan Joy Paul, author of Hiking Waterfalls in Colorado, describes it as "seven leaps of plunge, cascade, punchbowl, fan, and horsetail spray." Seven Falls is Colorado’s only waterfall that is included in the National Geographic list of international waterfalls. Among the wildlife are hummingbirds, the Water Ouzel or American Dipper songbird that swims, and Brook and Rainbow Trout.
There are self-guided audio tours, interpretive signs, a snackbar, and gift shops. Indian dance performances occur seasonally. There is a fee charged to vehicles, no hikers or bicycles are allowed.
There are two hiking trails that begin at the top of Seven Falls. They are open from May through October until 7 pm. The Inspiration Point trail is a 1 mile (1.6 km) winding trail to Inspiration Point and takes about one hour round trip. There are views of the city of Colorado Springs and the plains. This was a favored spot by Helen Hunt Jackson that inspired her poem writing. As she wished, she was originally buried at the point. A shorter trail to Midnight Falls is about a half-hour hike to Midnight Falls, near the South Cheyenne Creek headwaters. The trails begin at 6,800 feet (2,100 m) in elevation and end at about 7,200 feet (2,200 m) in elevation.
Late 19th century
Nathaniel Colby homesteaded 160 acres in South Cheyenne Canyon, including Seven Falls in December 1872. He sold the land rights nine months later for $1,000 (equivalent to $19,753 in 2015 to the Colorado Springs Land Company. Fearing logging operations would ruin the scenic area, in 1882, naturalist James Hull purchased the property. The trail to Inspiration Point was launched in 1883. By 1885, he owned 400 acres in the canyon. Hull built a stairway to the top of the falls and built a road through the canyon. Customers came by horses, burros, and carriages and paid a toll to enter Seven Falls. It then became a tourist attraction.
The 20th century
The property, now 1,400 acres was bought for $250,000 by Callidore Dwight Weimer in 1905. Weimer, a successful mine owner and developer born in Ohio, had become a permanent resident of Colorado Springs in 1903. Melvin Weimer, and his wife Frances, co-managed the Seven Falls business. Frances was a longtime supporter of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and manager of several family businesses in New Mexico and Colorado.
It was sold to Al Hill, a Colorado College student and an oilman from Texas, in 1946. To extend business hours into the nighttime, Hill added lights in the canyon in 1947. The Hill family built the Eagle's Nest Observation platform, and cut 170 feet into the side of the mountain for an elevator, which was updated in 1992. In 1947, a Christmas tradition was started of opening the canyon at night free to the people of Colorado Springs and allowing a charity to collect donations. The Seven Falls park was wiped out after a flood in 1965. In December 2002, a dynamic Martin Architectural lighting system was installed which bathed the cascades in color. Seven Falls is still known as the only fully lit canyon in the world.
Five days of heavy rains in mid-September 2013 caused similar damage to a significant flood in 1965. The worst hit area of the city, the southwest side of Colorado Springs received up to one foot of water. The large amount of water flowing over the falls resulted in five, rather than seven falls. The Seven Falls park had downed trees, standing water, mud, and a damaged road. The park was closed and the incoming streets were blocked. In April 2014, it was announced that The Broadmoor had purchased Seven Falls, with plans to reopen the park in 2015. The property had been owned by the A.G. Hill family for 68 years.The Broadmoor re-opened Seven Falls on August 13, 2015. The new concept involves remote parking at the hotel, with a shuttle bus to the canyon, freeing up vehicle congestion and parking issues, that had been a problem in the past. They simultaneously opened Restaurant 1858, a fine dining establishment at the foot of the Falls.
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- Susan Joy Paul (16 July 2013). Hiking Waterfalls in Colorado: A Guide to the State's Best Waterfall Hikes. Falcon Guides. p. 107. ISBN 978-1-4930-0328-0.
- Eric Lindberg. Colorado Off the Beaten Path: A Guide to Unique Places. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-7627-5618-6.
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- "History". sevenfalls.com. Retrieved 2013-09-21.
- "Men of note affiliated with mining and mining interests in the Cripple Creek district". University of California Berkeley. 1905. p. 53. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
- "Art supporter, Seven Falls manager dies" (PDF). The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO). August 19, 1997. p. 4:4.
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- "Seven Falls Closed Until Further Notice". KKTV. 2013-09-19. Retrieved 2013-09-21.
- "Seven Falls, Colorado, USA". Martin Professional A/S. October 2, 2004. Archived from the original on September 25, 2013. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
- "The Broadmoor Announces Purchase Of Seven Falls". kktv.com. Retrieved 2014-04-12.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Seven Falls.|
|Inspiration Point Trail, Colorado, On Walkabout|
|Seven Falls: Cascades of Discovery, Youtube|
|Falls with Colored Lights, Youtube|
|Flooded Front Gate area, Youtube|