Waterfalls have a meditative quality that you can’t quite find anywhere else and have a beauty that is difficult to define. After all, the tumbling water isn’t the only attraction – the cliffs, forests, pools and trails around the falls all play a part in the majestic experience. Luckily, the USA has more than its fair share of amazing waterfalls and these eight are nestled into some of the most pristine – yet accessible – landscapes in the country.
Havasu Falls, Arizona
The legendary Havasu Falls sit amid Arizona’s arid, rocky canyons, which creates this unforgettable scenery. The bright turquoise water (colored by calcium carbonate and magnesium) contrasts with the deep red rock cliffs, and a trimming of evergreens rounds out the color palette. The water fall is almost 100 feet from the top to the turquoise pool at the bottom, and there’s a nice sandy beach to enjoy the view from.
Havasu Falls - Different View
Whether looking at the falls from above or below they are a great sight. The hike to get to the falls is a bit more involved than a simple day hike though. The Havasu Falls are 10 miles from the trailhead so a camping permit is required, and they do check. There are several good sights on the details of doing this hike like this one on Havasu Falls Do's and Dont's.
Palouse Falls, Washington
Nature lovers flock to Washington’s Palouse Falls State Park in the spring and summer to take in the spectacular Palouse Falls – certainly a contender for the most beautiful waterfall in the region. The water drops from a height of nearly 200 feet, spilling over a rugged outcrop of rock and snaking down the pretty river that cuts through the wild landscape. The surrounding canyons and raw landscape is what makes these falls very special; you may feel like you’ve left the USA and landed on another continent.
Palouse Falls - Different View
We had to put some effort into finding a nice shot of the falls from below as the hike down to the river below the falls is a bit involved. However, we did find this great blog post on hiking to the falls and making your way down to see it from below. Palouse Falls Blog
Yellowstone Lower Falls, Wyoming
Yellowstone Park has a few waterfalls, but the Lower Yellowstone Falls deserve a special mention for their beauty and magnitude. Tumbling 300 feet into a rugged canyon, the Lower Falls is at the top of the list of attractions in Yellowstone, and the best part is that you can catch a glimpse from many scenic lookout points. The layers of immense rocky terrain only highlight the incredible natural beauty and power of the falls themselves.
Yellowstone Lower Falls - Different View
Alamere Falls, Point Reyes National Seashore, California
Crashing waves mirrored by crashing falls: this is the satisfying symmetry that make the four mile trek to Alamere Falls well worth your time. They may not be the biggest or the most dramatic waterfall in the country, but they hug the California coastline in Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, spilling into gullies carved into the beach, which makes the scene fairly unique and impossibly romantic. Kick off your shoes and take a stroll between the ocean and the waterfalls to admire some of California’s charms.
Alamere Falls - Different View
There aren't too many different views of this one but here is a nice shot looking directly up the falls. The Alamere Falls generally have the most water going over them as compared to other waterfalls in the park, which makes it one of the go to places as it rarely disappoints.
Spray Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
This remote waterfall will call for a bit of a trek, but the spectacle of Spray Falls spilling into Lake Superior is not something you will soon forget. A two mile hike along the Lakeshore Trail will bring you in sight of the 70 meter tall waterfall, but since the forest is dense and the cliffs are sheer in both directions, you’ll need to hop in a boat or kayak to get an up-close view from the front. If you come here in the autumn, you can enjoy a brilliant canopy of fiery reds and oranges alongside the beautiful waterfall.
Spray Falls - Different View
If you happen to visit during wetter times of the year, you may get lucky and see the falls open up in a few different locations on the cliff face. Pictured Rocks National Seashore is a great place to visit with waterfalls, stone arches, and tunnels along the shoreline. In the winter ice formations along the shore are incredible as well.
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
The iconic Multnomah Falls are no secret among hikers and waterfall enthusiasts, but they’re popular for a reason. The jewel in the crown of Oregon’s majestic Colombia River Gorge, this ribbon of cascading water straddled by a concrete arched bridge is simply picture-perfect. The surrounding forest has the requisite peace and cool tranquility, plus there’s a historic lodge that sits at the foot of the cliff to round out the North Pacific scene. Unfortunately this area was damaged by fire in 2017 and the lower viewing area and Benson Bridge are still closed.
Multnomah Falls - Post Fire
This area is starting top open up again as the lodge near the base of the falls has reopened but it will be months before the main viewing areas and the Benson Bridge will be available to hikers again. Here is an article on the fire and this area with more details Multnomah Falls Fire Info.
Yosemite Falls, California
Yosemite Park is a massive granite playground, drawing hikers and rock climbers to the steep cliffs and incredible flora and fauna. Tucked into the soaring mountains, Yosemite Falls is an extravagant example of the power of North American seasons. The drop is massive – at 2425 feet tall, these falls are some of the highest in the world – but since the rushing water is fed by melting snow, spring is the time to visit. The sight has inspired a range of writers and artists over the centuries; the hike to the viewing points will follow in the footsteps of American legends.
HorseTail Falls - Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park has a few waterfalls in it. The Horsetail falls is one that puts on quite a show, for a brief time each year from mid to late February, when the setting sun hits it just right.
Niagara Falls, New York
A list of American waterfalls just wouldn’t be complete without Niagara Falls, the natural wonder that brings tourists from all over the globe to see its power in person. It’s big, wide, loud and lively, and whether you take a jet boat ride through the whirlpools at the base or prefer to witness the spectacle from solid ground, the effect will be immense. Canada and the USA share the falls, and each side offers a different view – and a different entertainment experience. There are three named waterfalls in this area the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the Horseshoe Falls. The first pic is of the Horseshoe Falls.
Niagara Falls - American and Bridal Veil Falls
The American Falls are to the left in the picture below with the Bridal Veil Falls to the far right separated by Luna Island above. The close proximity of the three falls and the many ways to view the falls make this one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
You might be surprised at the number of waterfalls that dot the states – there’s a good chance that you’ll stumbled upon one if you take the time to explore any state park! However, many of the most amazing waterfalls in the country will require at least a bit of a hike, so factor that in when you plan your trip.