Hiking Shoes Required: Check Out 3 Of Colorado’s ‘Most Gorgeous’ Waterfalls

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<p>(Courtesy Susan Joy Paul)</p>
<p>Navajo Basin Falls, Lizard Head Wilderness in San Juan National Forest near Telluride.</p>

Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this interview, our guest recommended Boulder Falls. That trail remains closed after the 2013 floods.

Colorado's high peaks give birth to hundreds of waterfalls.

"There's close to 500 known waterfalls and probably hundreds more that aren't known," says Colorado Springs writer and mountaineer Susan Joy Paul. She has hiked many of these waterways. Her guidebook is "Hiking Waterfalls in Colorado: A Guide to the State's Best Waterfall Hikes."

Some of her favorite regions to hike waterfalls include Rocky Mountain National Park and southwestern Colorado... areas near Telluride, Ouray and Pagosa Springs.

"I found a lot of them just by looking at maps. If you look at a map, the waterways have cross-hatchings where the water falls exist," she said. "Sometimes there's a lot of off-trail hiking."

Paul told Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner about three lesser-known waterfalls that she says are among the "most gorgeous" in the state:

1) Apache Falls. These falls are in the Greenhorn Mountain Wilderness, northwest of Walsenburg. It's a tough seven-hour hike, so make sure you're prepared.

"It's a beautiful hike, stunning hike," Paul said. "It's very unexpected when you get to this waterfall that's falling down from above you."

2) Silver Falls. Located west of Pagosa Springs, these falls are a short eighth-of-a-mile hike.

"It's a very white sparkly water bridal fall over dark rock, which is really stunning," Paul said.

3) Rough Creek Falls. These falls are southwest of Antonito, in the San Luis Valley. This hike is a little bit longer -- about 40 minutes. Photo: Rough Creek Falls

More interview highlights:

Why waterfalls make you feel better:

"When the water hits something, it releases negative ions into the air, which are molecules with a negative charge. And some people believe that does get into your blood stream and increases the blood flow to your head and puts you in a very good mood."

How to stay safe:

"You don't want to stand in the water above a cliff where water falls. They run with a lot of force; they can put you right over the edge. People want to get lovely photos of them standing at the top of waterfall -- that's a really bad idea. So you don't stand in the water above a waterfall. You also should not stand directly under a waterfall because of the danger of rockfall."