As spring blossoms approach and snowpacks melt, we enter waterfall season, which many nature enthusiasts regard as their favorite time of year, Because they can see one of the best things nature has to offer, the majestic waterfalls.
Every waterfall has its individuality, from thunderous cascades to fantasy trickles to some being tall and slender, rushing down cliff faces into swirling whirlpools below. Others are gauzier, branching out on rock and moss staircases.
It’s challenging to compile a list of the Top 15 Best Waterfalls (let alone advise you how to visit all of them) because it’s entirely subjective and confined to each person’s experience with the falls being named.
But here are our top 15 recommendations for a delightful time.
The majority of people associate waterfalls with the tropics of South America. Still, many are unaware that the United States is home to numerous spectacular waterfalls, making it simple to arrange a trip around them.
There are many spots around the United States where you can get close to nature and see some spectacular waterfalls, from the world-famous Niagara Falls in New York to the lesser-known but spectacular Tahquamenon Falls in Michigan.
From magnificent water chutes thrusting from tropical cliffs to calm tumbles down the side of a glacier, here are 15 gorgeous waterfalls that should be on your bucket list.
When the falls are frozen solid in winter, you can walk behind some and climb on others. While you may have already visited some of America’s most famous waterfalls (think Niagara, Yosemite, and Havasu in the Grand Canyon.
1. Waimoku Falls | Maui, Hawaii
The road to Waimoku Falls in Haleakala National Park Kipahulu is more important than the goal.
The 1.8-mile Pipiwai Trail winds through towering bamboo trees and waterfalls in a natural tropical rainforest before dumping you near the base of the 400-foot-tall Waimoku cascade.
However, it would help if you remained a safe distance from the sea for your protection. This walk is well-kept and not too harsh, with a moderate incline gradually rising to the falls.
2. Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls | Idaho
This Snake River gusher dubbed the “Niagara of the West,” is taller (212 feet) and wider than the actual Niagara Falls (900 feet).
It’s one of the country’s most significant natural falls, and it’s been a popular tourist destination since the days of the Oregon Trail. An average flow is 10,000 to 12,000 cubic feet per second, although meltwater can exceed 20,000 cubic feet per second after a hard winter with significant snowfall.
The most significant time to visit is in the spring. However, visitors should always check the Shoshone Falls live broadcast before going.
3. Cumberland Falls | McCreary County / Whitley County, Kentucky
Cumberland Falls, also known as the “Niagara of the South,” is a 125-foot wide gorge of rushing blue-green water in Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Corbin, Kentucky.
Cumberland Falls. The falls may be seen from a couple of viewing platforms just off the highway, but hiking trails allow you to make a full day. If you visit during a full moon, you may be able to view a moonbow, which is a rainbow formed by the brightness of the light reflecting off the falls and the full moon.
Cumberland Falls cascades 60 feet over stones in the center of Kentucky. Kayaking, white water rafting, and canoeing are popular activities here. On the Columbia River, fishing is also a popular pastime.
The new Cumberland Mining Company provides gem mining near the falls, right past the gift store. While sifting through your collection from the falls, look for fossils and gemstones in different hues and forms.
There are 17 miles of hiking and backpacking trails in Cumberland Falls.
4. Niagara Falls | New York
Niagara Falls is a sight to behold! The most famous waterfalls considerably outstripped all others in sheer force, magnitude, popularity, and more.
Bring your passport and visit this world-famous site on both sides of the border, which Western New York shares in the United States and Southeastern Ontario in Canada.
Visiting Niagara Falls, the king of America’s most beautiful waterfalls, is a must-do on anyone’s bucket list. The Niagara River rumbles over the Niagara Escarpment and is marked by three magnificent falls, two American and one Canadian.
Visitors describe the beautiful sight as “Heaven on Earth…Everyone should visit the fall at least once in their lifetime.” The sensation and joy of being there can’t be described in words.
5. Akaka Falls Park | Hilo, Hawaii
On a leisurely half-mile stroll along a paved trail, Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls emerge from Hawaii’s lush tropical landscape. Along the journey to the falls, walk by wild orchids and hanging banana trees, stopping to absorb the vistas from several viewing platforms.
A Big Island waterfall trip allows you to see Akaka Falls and other spectacular waterfalls in a single day.
The Akaka Falls on Hawaii’s Big Island is the most visited and photographed waterfall in the state. It flows year-round and has an isolated atmosphere deep in a dense and lush tropical rainforest as it plunges 420 feet into a stream-carved gorge within the Akaka Falls state park.
A short circular route leads to vistas and the 100-foot Kahuna Falls, another waterfall.
The most significant time to observe it is in the morning when it is bathed in direct sunlight.
6. Ruby Falls | Chattanooga, Tennessee
The highest and deepest underground waterfall exposed to the public in the United States is found in Ruby Falls. The roaring waterfall, situated deep beneath Lookout Mountain’s 2,388 top, attracts almost half a million visitors each year.
The Lantern Tour, which takes guests into the mountain tunnels exclusively lit by lanterns, is one of the many holiday events and popular seasonal tours. Visitors can ride an elevator down to the falls and learn about the numerous rock formations along the falls’ walk. A viewing tower and a zip-lining adventure are also available at the facility.
7. Virginia Falls | Glacier National Park, Montana
On a journey to Virginia Falls in Glacier National Park, the hike is through three waterfalls in three miles.
A moderate walk passes between Baring Falls and St. Mary Falls before reaching Virginia Falls, widely regarded as one of Glacier National Park’s top waterfalls due to its turquoise waters and sparkling pools, excellent for sinking your toes in.
8. Whitewater Falls | Sapphire, North Carolina
At 811 feet tall, Whitewater Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Eastern United States, and it is also the most beautiful. Two observation decks provide a good view of the multi-tiered falls, which break over a succession of jagged rocks.
Take a short trek down a paved path to the upper overlook or descend the 154-step stairway to the lower viewing point, which many believe has more incredible views.
9. Palouse Falls | Washington
A canyon encircles Palouse Falls on the Palouse River. It is the official state waterfall for the state of Washington, and it is named for the Palouse Indians who live in the area today.
The Palouse River crashes spectacularly over a ledge and into an Ice Age gorge cut from columnar basalt in southeastern Washington’s 94-acre Palouse Falls State Park. It’s a 200-foot plunge with steep granite walls that send clouds of mist pouring past them, like something out of Jurassic Park.
Palouse State Park is a great place to start for a panoramic view of the falls cascading down a cliff face. The countryside is littered with picnic shelters and bird watchers.
10. Yosemite Falls | Yosemite National Park, California
This 2,425-foot waterfall is one of the world’s tallest and is commonly regarded as the crown gem of Yosemite National Park’s cliff-diving waterfalls.
The only drawback to its beauty is that it dries up by mid-to-late summer due to its relatively barren granite drainage, which quickly drains through its significant winter snowpack.
Nonetheless, if it can inspire Ansel Adams, John Muir, Thomas Ayres, Francois Matthes, James Hutchings, and others to use superlatives, there’s a strong possibility it can do the same for you!
11. Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls | (of the Yellowstone River), Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Waterfalls trickle through creeks and resound across the valley throughout Yosemite National Park, but none are more majestic than Yosemite Falls, which stands at 2,425 feet.
This is Yellowstone National Park’s most famous waterfall. The spectacle of a 308ft waterfall within an unbelievably picturesque setting at the head of the colorful Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is seen by nearly 4 million visitors each year.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is formed by the Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls and Crystal Falls. The Upper Falls is a raging torrent of water splashing over rock, framed by lush foliage and trees.
Hikers who are comfortable on challenging terrain may get a better view if they descend 500 feet and then rebound 500 feet.
More significant than the Upper Falls, the Lower Falls are as impressive. The platform at the Brink of the Lower Falls, Red Rock Point, Artist Point, and the South Rim Trail offers a variety of viewing opportunities.
12. Havasu Falls | Grand Canyon, Arizona
Limestone is the source of travertine. The Havasu Falls, located on the Havasupai Tribe Reservation, has a unique blue-green tint due to its limestone. It is an oddity in the desert near the Grand Canyon National Park. It is an incredible sight to see a stunning fall within its canyon.
One mode of observation is hiking to the campground with mules in tow. The Havasupai Lodge is only two miles from the falls if you don’t want to hike or camp. You could join an organized tour as an alternative to hiking. Another option is to hire a helicopter for a truly bird’s eye perspective.
13. Bridal Veil Falls | Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California
Thanks to Ansel Adams and Instagram, the bridal veil is one of Yosemite National Park’s most famous sights.
This well-known waterfall cascades 620 feet to the bottom, with enough water to shower tourists in the spring and early summer and a gentle golden glow in the winter.
Even though the waterfall is not wheelchair accessible, it is only a 10-minute walk from the main visitor parking lot down a paved route. Make the most of your time in California by visiting as part of a broader Yosemite excursion from San Francisco or Los Angeles.
Standing at Tunnel View and looking down the valley while the mountain walls scream their tears is one of America’s best waterfall views.
Bridal Veil Falls is the most impressive, plunging 620 feet over the ridge and into the forested valley below. From this vantage point, you’ll enjoy a classic vista of El Capitan, Half Dome, Sentinel Rocks, and Cathedral Rocks.
Bridal Veil Falls is located directly across El Capitan, one of Yosemite’s most famous cliff faces. The Bridal veil Falls Trail is one of Yosemite’s easiest treks for families, and it’s also one of the most significant places to get up close to a cascade.
Every waterfall in Yosemite National Park might easily be included in this list of the top waterfalls. If you want to see it in all of its violently tumbling glory, go in May when the snowmelt has transformed it into a spectacular experience.
14. Multnomah Falls | Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah County Oregon
Multnomah Falls is a well-known waterfall. Multnomah Falls is a multi-tiered waterfall fed by underground springs. It totals 620 feet, beginning with 542 feet of upper falls with 69 feet of lower falls, and 9 feet at the bottom. A lovely green landscape frames a gigantic, beautiful burst of falls.
Guests can traverse the lower cascade through a route that leads to Benson Footbridge. The trail continues to the upper falls if guests desire to continue hiking. Once there, take in a breathtaking vista of the Columbian Gorge and the indistinguishable Little Multnomah Falls from the ground.
15. Tahquamenon Falls | Paradise, Michigan
While we were aware that the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has several waterfalls and the stunning Pictured Rocks, the typical block shape of this waterfall on a wide, tannin-stained river caught our attention.
Enjoy this splendor from various locations, all of which had a Naturesque aspect distinctive of the UP. You would not be able to dispute its beauty, whether you saw it from the edge or a distance away from the Tahquamenon River’s banks.
Lower Tahquamenon Falls, a cascade further downstream, was also part of this vast waterfall. Autumn foliage, if timed well, may give even more color to an already beautiful scene.
The bar is set high for a destination dubbed Paradise, and Michigan’s Tahquamenon Falls do not disappoint.
These well-known waterfalls are divided into two equally beautiful parts. Before proceeding to the Lower Falls, a set of five cascades cascading over a freshwater island, stop at the Upper Falls for a view of rust-colored waterfalls caused by tannins leached from cedar trees upstream.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park, which includes hiking trails, camping, and winter sports, is home to waterfalls. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the world in a new light.
Something about America’s most gorgeous waterfalls makes them worthwhile to seek out, whether on a road trip to a new location or an overnight walk in one of its incredible national parks. It’s no wonder that it offers a plethora of spectacular and beautiful waterfalls.