Painting the waterfalls at Rifle Falls State Park
RIFLE – When a 9-year-old can appreciate the solace of a Sunday afternoon, the activities he’s engaged in must have peace and quiet somehow disguised as fun and excitement.Visiting Rifle Falls State Park from Grand Junction, Nic Cordova, 9, knew he would have a blast climbing the rocks and playing in the waterfall at the park. But he never thought having so much fun could be so relaxing until he started painting.With his relatives tagging along, Cordova and other visitors soaked up inspiration from the waterfall decorating the park while creating their own works of art at the Waterfall Painting program hosted by the Rifle State Park complex.Though Cordova and his sisters and cousins never thought a relaxing weekend in Rifle could be so much fun, program coordinator Beth Dodd planned it that way and even hoped visitors over the weekend gained a certain tranquility from releasing their creative side.”One of the reasons we have state parks is so people can relax and re-create themselves,” Dodd said. “It gives people a chance to renew and refresh themselves.” It took Karen Dixon of Glenwood Springs a moment to look around and realize the beauty of the natural surroundings she’s been living by for almost five years.”It’s just so beautiful,” Dixon said. “We’d drive to Aspen any day, but this is really in our own backyard.”Those not lucky enough to live just 45 minutes from the park also enjoyed basking in the peaceful sound that resonated from the waterfall.Visiting from Chicago, Mickie Maher said, “The natural beauty and all the colors are just great. It’s very mystical and really brings you back to nature.”For the first time in her life, Donna Mark’s daughter Emily not only experienced waterfalls up close, but after painting the falls from her picnic table she also had a small memento of her first trip to Rifle.Emily said painting the falls was really neat, while Mom followed up saying, “It’s been very nice. We’ve learned a lot, and it’s been a great nature experience.”Allowing others to reinvent themselves in a serene environment has always been Dodd’s motivation for initiating programs like Waterfall Painting, but meeting the people who experience her work draws her to the park every day.”I just enjoy it tremendously,” Dodd said. “I get to meet new people from all over the world and create an excitement and interest for someone.”When she started working with the Rifle State Park complex about 13 years ago, Dodd said she always told people she got to play for a living. At the end of the day, she said, she may be tired, but she always goes home feeling good, something she hopes park visitors feel after reflecting on their waterfall painting.