From the world-famous Niagara Falls to the remote and exquisitely beautiful falls in the deserts of Arizona, the USA has some of the most stunning waterfalls on earth.
Located across the country, pristine landscapes and incredible views surround most of the falls. This is a journey of discovery. Sit back and enjoy the ride while I take you to fifteen of the best waterfalls in the USA!
Yosemite Falls California
The spectacular Yosemite Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in the world. Ten times taller than Niagara, the water drops 2,425 feet, tumbling over three distinct sections. Even the shortest section, the easy-to-reach Lower Fall, at 320-foot is quite spectacular.
The Yosemite Creek plunges down half the total drop to form the thundering Upper Yosemite Falls. The Middle Cascades are seldom seen by hikers as they are protected by steep and hostile rock faces resulting in the rescue of many a rock climber.
The falls flow from November through July, reaching top levels in May of each year.
The climb to the top of the falls is a challenging eight-hour hike. If you’re not up to the challenge, take the one-mile round trip up the slopes to the Lower Yosemite Falls instead. Along the way, you’ll get a lovely view of the Upper Falls as it plunges into the Lower Falls.
Arrive early or you’ll battle to find parking. There is a regular shuttle from Yosemite Village.
Alamere Falls California
There’s something special about waterfalls that tumble down a cliff onto the sea and below. Alamere Falls do exactly that. Here 40-feet of sparkling water drops precipitously onto the soft sands of Wildcat Beach in the Phillip Burton Wilderness.
It is possible to get to the top of the falls but it will cost you a twenty-mile round trip over treacherous terrain. So, a picnic at the base of the falls may serve you better.
McWay Falls California
The 80-foot McWay Falls flows from McWay Creek in the Julia Pfeiffer State Park straight into the ocean below (at high tide that is).
Located on the Big Sur’s beautiful coastline, the fall spills onto a postcard-pretty bay. Take a short walk to the overlook and take some pictures. Though this lovely coastline is Instagram-ready any time of day, at sunset it really glows.
The only possible way onto the beach or into the bay is by kayak as the climb down the cliffs is dangerous and illegal.
Yellowstone Falls Wyoming
Yellowstone Park is an encounter like no other. Hydrothermal action has painted the rocks and cliff faces in a multitude of colors. The Yellowstone Falls add to the theater in this park. They consist of two mighty waterfalls.
The Yellowstone River meanders out of the Hayden Valley until it encounters a 109-foot cliff. Then it sends tons of water crashing over the Upper Yellowstone Falls. The shimmering waters then plunge 308-feet down, down, down into the Grand Canyon.
Here, you’ll see the highest water flow anywhere in the Rocky Mountains. The combined height of the falls is the equivalent of a 200-story building. Though visible throughout the year, the falls are at their most spectacular during late spring.
Enjoy the sound, sights, and feel of the mighty falls and colorful landscape from various lookout points
Niagara Falls New York
Niagara Falls on the border of the USA and Canada is one of the most magnificent waterfalls anywhere in the world. You’ll hear and feel the power of the water before you even get to the falls.
Here 758,000 gallons of water drop, ricocheting off the massive cliffs that bear their weight. Niagara consists of three waterfalls. The beautiful curving Horseshoe or Canadian Falls are at the top. The length of the fall is a full 2,200 feet with a fall of 188 feet. The American and Bridal Veil Falls lie further along the Niagara River.
Take a walking trail that runs behind the falls. Make the time for the famous Maid of the Mist boat tour. It takes you close enough to the base of the fall to experience the waterfall mist upon your face.
Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge Oregon
Every year, more than 2 million people stop over to take in views of the Multnomah Falls, making this one of the most popular natural sites on the country’s northwest coast. Just 30 minutes from Portland, this 610-foot waterfall is fed from underground springs. The falls are easily accessible and they fall throughout the year.
It takes a five-minute walk from the parking lot before you feel a mist of spray from the falls on your skin. Follow the trail to get an even closer view of the waters as they fall off the 69-foot second waterfall tier.
Legend has it that the falls were created for a young native American princess as a private place to bathe. Plan to stop over at the restaurant at Multnomah Falls Lodge for lunch with a spectacular view.
Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon Arizona
Havasu Creek in Utah is a tributary of the Grand Canyon. Here a series of blue-green waterfalls cool the desert sands.
The surrounding limestone rocks have painted the water a lovely ethereal shade of blue. The color contrasts beautifully with the autumn-shaded rock faces and yellow sands. The falls create cool, blue plunge pools inviting visitors to dive in and take a swim against the magnificent backdrop.
The falls are located in the Havasupai Indian Reservation and you will have to book your stay in advance. The only way to the falls is by horse, foot, or helicopter. Most visitors include a night or two at the camping ground in their plans. There is a small store in Supai Village where you can stock up with provisions.
Getting to the falls requires a challenging 10-mile. The trail has many steep paths so most hikers prefer not to carry their own backpacks, electing instead to hire a mule.
If you plan on taking this hiking adventure to one of the most beautiful and best falls in the USA, you’ll have to arrange a three-day permit ahead of time.
Spearfish Falls, Spearfish Canyon South Dakota
Spearfish Falls in South Dakota is a treat to visit at any time of the year. Enjoy lush and verdant plant life in Spring and Summer. In Fall nature dresses the valley in shades of red and gold and in winter, the mists from the falls create an icy dreamland of sculptures and ice cascades.
The 47-foot waterfall in the Black Hills is set against the steep and rocky backdrop of the Spearfish Canyon. There is more than one lookout point at the falls with varying degrees of difficulty. Plan lunch at the Latchstring Restaurant close to the falls. It was established in 1919 when the falls were at their most popular and visitors flocked to the Spearfish Canyon.
Palouse Falls Washington
The Palouse Falls is one of the last waterfalls created during the Ice Age as the waters of the melting glaciers headed to lower grounds. Located in the Palouse Falls State Park, this has to be one of the USA’s finest waterfalls and it’s 13,000 years old.
Here the crystalline waters crash down 200 feet of sheer rock into the tranquil pool below. The ice-age ravine is cut from columnar basalt. It forms a splendid backdrop to the dark green waters that meander through the deep chasm below.
The State Park provides visitors with three waterfall viewing choices. You can get an easy view from the viewing point alongside the car park. The Fryxell Overlook offers some of the best views of the canyon and falls. Still, for a quieter experience, head up the paved path for a serene view of the canyon.
Snoqualmie Falls Washington
Contained within a two-acre park, the 268-foot Snoqualmie Falls is Washington’s most famous waterfall. Amazingly the falls are more than double the height of Niagara Falls. The many lookout points attract 1.5 million visitors each year.
The upper observation deck will get you fantastic views of the falls and it’s just a short walk from the parking lot.
The walk from the upper to the lower deck is just 0.7 miles down a dirt path. There is also a parking lot at the lower deck. Alternatively enjoy a meal with a view at the local Attic Bistro. The lodge at the top of the falls also enjoys enviable views.
Virginia Falls, Glacier National Park Montana
Located in the Glacier National Park, the cool waters of the multi-tiered Virginia Falls tumble down 50-feet of rocks. It’s surrounded by picture perfect landscapes, running into a stream surrounded by moss covered rocks and enveloped in the cool green of the surrounding forest lands.
The three-mile trail starts at the St Mary’s Fall shuttle stop. Along the trail, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains. You’ll also encounter several small falls along the trail. Virginia Falls is at the end of the trail. Look out for the many birds, deer and moose along the way.
Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls Idaho
The Shoshone Falls is an impressive 900 feet wide. Here the Snake River plunges 212 feet into the enormous pool below. These falls are higher than the Niagara Falls, earning them the title of the Niagara of the West.
Every second ten to twelve cubic tons of water falls down the slopes. This can almost double when winter’s snow begins to melt. For the best experience visit these falls between April and July. The falls are easily accessible. They’re just 75 feet from the parking lot and they are ADA compliant.
Ruby Falls, Tennessee/Georgia
Deep underground in Lookout Mountain, you’ll find the highest and deepest public waterfall in the USA. Leo Lambert, a chemist, stumbled onto the falls in 1928.
A stream some 1,120 feet below the ground formed the Ruby Falls. The waterfall tumbles into a cavern carved from limestone rock.
To get the falls you’ll have to take an underground path that will take you 260 feet into the mountain caverns. Pretty lights illuminate the path to the waterfall. The stalagmites, stalactites, and waterfall are also beautifully lit, a wonderful underground adventure.
Book ahead if you’re planning a visit to the Ruby Falls.
Laurel Falls Tennessee (most popular falls in the Smokies)
The “oh so pretty” Laurel Falls is named for the plant that grows along the trail, blooming in the latter half of May. Laurel Falls is the most popular trails in the Smoky Mountains National Park for good reason. The stunning 80-foot waterfall has two sections. A walkway crosses at the foot of the upper fall.
The trailhead starts at the parking lot with a roundtrip to the waterfall of 2.6 miles. It takes about two hours to complete the hike. The trail is partly paved. Still, it is a little challenging with some steep areas that may be slippery. Laurel Falls is open throughout the year.
Cumberland Falls Kentucky
The Niagara of the south, the towering Cumberland Falls, plunge 68-feet across 125-feet of sheer rock. The falls spill 3,600 cubic feet of water over the rock face every second. Still, the secret of these falls is that they boast one of only two natural moonbows anywhere on earth.
Time your visit during the full moon, to catch the elusive moonbow in the mists of this great fall. The lunar rainbow appears at the base of the Cumberland Falls.
Cumberland Falls are located in the Cumberland Falls State Reserve Park. The park is popular for the hiking trails that meander through 17 miles of pristine forest to meet up with the beautiful falls. The park has some stunning horseback trails and is well known for its freshwater fishing.
There are so many stunning waterfalls in Kentucky, it’s definitely the place to be if you like exploring new falls.
Plan Your Trip to the Best Waterfalls in the USA
I’ve scoured the country to find you the 15 most breathtaking waterfalls. Most of the falls are best viewed in spring and early summer and some tours require a booking. Plan ahead and you enjoy some of the best waterfalls in the USA.