Using a Guelph Permeameter, the soil water infiltration processes were analyzed in the Babao River of the Qilian Mountain in China. The results showed that the average soil initial infiltration and the steady infiltration rates in the upstream reaches of the Babao River are 1.93 and 0.99 cm/min, whereas those of the middle area are 0.48 cm/min and 0.21 cm/min, respectively. The infiltration processes can be divided into three stages: the rapidly changing stage (0–10 min), the slowly changing stage (10–30 min) and the stabilization stage (after 30 min). We used field data collected from lawn soils and evaluated the performances of the infiltration models of Philip, Kostiakov and Horton with the sum of squared error, the root mean square error, the coefficient of determination, the mean error, the model efficiency and Willmott's index of agreement. The results indicated that the Kostiakov model was most suitable for studying the infiltration process in the alpine lawn soils.