34. Spouting Rock , Glenwood Canyon, Colorado 1.6.2024.jpg

Spouting Rock, Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

Gushing out the cliff's recess, Spouting Rock's unusual waterfall emerges from the sedimentary limestone that underlies this region of central Colorado. The stream then flows into Hanging Lake, situated just below the falls, and, from there, feeds into the nearby Colorado River. The sound of the falls blends the low, rumbling echo of the stream flowing through the crevice's opening and the high-pitched splash of water striking its rocky stream bed.

Enclosed by 700-foot cliffs, the waterfall flows from a spring deep within the earth. Its source and path are unknown, though underground streams often issue from limestone formations – especially in steep terrain such as Glenwood Canyon – following a course through eroded tunnels and caves and along fractures and impermeable subterranean ledges. The water flowing out of these falls is rich with dissolved calcium carbonate leached from limestone. The mineral-rich water produces the iridescently blue color of Hanging Lake.

This lively waterfall is active year-round. In a semi-arid climate, the spray-filled air feeds the microhabitat of native mosses and plants that embroider the cliff wall. I've walked behind the waterfall where the limestone has been undercut, forming a (relatively) dry cave, and reveled in the sight of American black swifts agilely catching insects and nesting in the crevices encircling the cave.

- James Baker