The views of the valley and the Sand Dunes are fantastic, and there are four miles of well-marked hiking and mountain biking trails below the parking area. Access into the mountain peaks and wilderness area is also afforded on Forest Service Trail #852 beginning in the parking area. This trail follows South Zapata Creek to South Zapata Lake. There are several ruins of cabins along the trail to view.
The falls are particularly impressive in winter when it freezes into a sculpture of ice. In both fall and summer, the water is cold and the rocks can be slippery, so use good judgment as to whether or not you are up to the challenge. Even in the summer, air temperatures inside the alcove can be cool, so bring a jacket.
Access Zapata Falls from Highway 150, 12 miles north of the intersection with highway 160. Turn right at the sign and travel three miles on the dirt road to the parking area.