As far back as 1884, Rifle Falls has been a tourist attraction. When James Watson created the Rifle Falls Ranch, he charged admission for viewing the caves and waterfalls. From 1890-1922 Allan Zerbe operated the Zerbe Resort, which offered cabins for overnight tourists.
In 1910 the town of Rifle built the Rifle Hydroelectric Plant. This plant was one of the first hydroelectric power stations in Colorado. From 1908-1959 the falls were a source of hydroelectric power for the town of Rifle. Public Service Company bought the plant in 1915 and operated it until 1952.
Once Rifle Falls became a state park in 1966, recreation was the focal point again. Rifle Falls State Park is the closest you'll get to the tropics in Colorado. The falls is a lush area of trees and greenery kept moist by the spray of the cascading triple waterfall.