One summer mom and dad surprised us with a trip to a local, but apparently not widely known, private location they referred to as Missouri Falls.
To reach Missouri Falls was a quick trip by truck since it was not too far off the highway outside of Blackhawk. After turning off the main road, we turned onto smaller ones and eventually passed the remains of a cabin. Dad said that this area was occupied in the past by the Hell’s Angels and their cabin was burned down by the law. True or not, it added color to the trip.
We parked and then had to walk through the woods a little way as I recall before we came to the waterfall. In the middle of the woods, surrounded by aspen and pine, Missouri Creek dropped off the top of a rock cliff creating a pool of ice cold water in the soft stone below, then it cascaded down the smoothed rocks into another pool further down. After creating a series of smooth rock slides into natural pools like this, the small creek continued down the valley to eventually meet up with larger and larger creeks.
This was obviously not the kind of water park with wristbands and pay for entry. This was just a hidden spot, deep in the woods, discovered and shared with close friends over time.
Now, it also turns out that this place was clothing optional. Being only ten years old, this was the first I had even heard that public nudity was a thing. I decided that maybe it was related to the biker history?
We went with friends of the family who turned out to be comfortable in their birthday suits. I guess mom and dad knew, but Jen and I were very surprised. To be perfectly clear, we wore our bathing suits.
Getting to the very top pool over the slippery rock was a bit scary, but that one was the deepest because the water fell the furthest. Naturally, that’s where we headed first… last one there is a rotten egg… my sister was last. That trip to the top pool was the only one that day. That was fine with me because the most fun to be had was sliding down the rocks below it and splashing into the lower pools anyway. Truth be told getting to the top one was scary, but I wouldn’t give my sister the satisfaction of knowing.
It was one of those amazing Colorado summer days that creates memories forever.
We came back to Missouri Falls a number of times that year, but I never saw anyone there other than the various families we visited with. Some clothed, some not.
I came back a few summers later with my cousin Tommy. Not for the falls, but for the cliff. I learned to repel from that cliff. Tom and I walked around to the top and he tied off the rope to a big secure rock, assuring me that it was fine. Then he walked backwards and disappeared out of view over the edge.
That entire day was spent with him showing me the ropes… so to speak. I learned to tie knots, and clip on carabiners, and after repelling in tandem with Tom, I eventually repelled down by myself. That too was a thrill I would not soon forget, even after learning to ice climb at St. Mary’s Glacier and Mt. Evans with Tom later that summer.