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The 30 Most Beautiful Waterfalls in the US

The 30 Most Beautiful Waterfalls in the US

By MM Travel and Tours on in Destinations to Travel

“Chasin’ those waterfalls/Chasin’ waterfalls”–Mary J. Blige, “Rainy Dayz” (2001)

No matter how often we see them (or even write about them), waterfalls are always a favorite.  Maybe it’s the crash of the water as it thunders down from high above or the sight of the falls as in their entirety.  Whatever the case, here are the 30 most beautiful waterfalls in the USA.  

1. The Multnomah Falls, Oregon

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You’ll discover the Multnomah Falls, about 30 minutes out of Portland.  It’s the tallest waterfall in the state.  It’s 611 feet high.  

The surrounding area is also Instagrammable.  Magnificent Multnomah Falls are ensconced amidst sprouting maple trees and basalt cliffs.  The falls are spanned by the well-known stone arches of Benson Bridge which was constructed back in 1914.

2.  Mesa Falls, Idaho

Mesa Falls is 115 feet high.  Here, near the city of Ashton, you’ll witness the water washing over the results of an old volcanic eruption at the neighboring Upper Mesa Falls prior to its traveling downriver for a mile to the Lower Mesa Falls.  Watch as the waters of Snake River flow through the solidified ash and lava there.

3.  Cumberland Falls, Kentucky

Cumberland Falls are known to some as the “Niagara of the South.”  Take in the sight of the water dropping 125 feet to crash into the gorge.  If you’d like to see a moonbow the best time to visit is during a full moon.  This is one of the only places in the world where you enjoy an actual lunar rainbow.

4.  The McWay Falls, California

Big Sur is one of the best portions of California’s beautiful coastline.  With the redwood and pine-clad cliffs, lovely beaches, and the Pacific Ocean, a waterfall would have to be something special to actually stand out here.  The majestic McWay Falls pours 80+ feet from the rugged bluffs at popular Julia Pfeiffer State Park, before emptying onto the fine, honey-hued sand.

5.  Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan

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Tahquamenon Falls consists of a pair of waterfalls, the broad, caramel-colored  Upper Falls, and the comparatively smaller Lower Falls.  They drop down along the river of the same name.  It is located in stunning Tahquamenon Falls State Park, close to famous Lake Superior.  There within the undeveloped, overgrown woodland, you will discover their true charm is in their unique imperfection. 

6.  Burney Falls, California

Burney Falls is ensconced amidst thick, lush ferns and mossy volcanic rock.  Fed by snowmelt and underground springs, President Theodore Roosevelt unofficially deemed these northern California falls to be “the eighth wonder of the world.”  The water here truly seems to rush out of the green, tree-filled ledge and fall hard into a stunning icy-blue-tinged pool.

7.  Grand Falls, Arizona

You’ll find Grand Falls in the striking Painted Desert in Navajo Nation close to Flagstaff.  This waterfall is 181 feet high.  Of course, what is special about it is not its height but its color.  Nicknamed the Chocolate Falls, the water is actually an appetizing and unusual milk chocolate hue.  This isn’t Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory though as the color is caused by sediment.

8.  The Palouse Falls, Washington

The 200-foot tall Palouse Falls are situated in southeastern Washington.  If you look at the falls from the right angle, you might think the water is coming right out of the rocks.  In fact, the water comes from the Palouse River.  Deemed the state’s official waterfall, this cascade was actually created by various floods that occurred back during the Ice Age.

9.  Yosemite Falls, California

This is the continental USA’s tallest waterfall.  It is a favorite tourist stop in popular Yosemite National Park and the water here drops 2,425 feet.  Yosemite Falls features three different sections amidst the meadows and granite cliffs.  Upper Yosemite Fall is reportedly one of the highest on the planet and rushed from a height of 1430 feet above the ground.

10.  St. Mary Falls, Montana

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Image courtesy of Oken Lane/Fickr

St. Mary Falls comes complete with multiple tiers.  The falls are found in Montana’s magnificent Glacier National Park and have three individual levels.  The trio of levels actually zig-zag over the gorgeous gorge’s red-tinged rock.  The water empties into an exceptional aquamarine pool.  While the neighboring Virginia Falls is noisier and higher, St. Mary Falls won out for its multiple levels.

11.  Ruby Falls, Tennessee

Ruby Falls is literally a 145-foot tall, sheer waterfall that plummets through a shaft deep within Lookout Mountain into a cave.  The waterfall is lit by LED lights and fed by a comparatively deep subterranean stream. It is also an official part of Chattanooga’s Lookout Mountain Caverns complex.  It was discovered by Leo Lambert in 1928.  He named it for his spouse, Ruby.

12.  Ramona Falls, Oregon

See rainbows in the mist around rushing Ramona Falls.  You will have to venture deep into the lovely landscape of mighty  Mt. Hood National Forest.  Here the water runs over velvety green moss-covered rocks and flows a total of 120 feet over basalt rock columns.  Veteran visitors say it’s a beautiful place to be at any time of the year.

13.  Seven Falls, Colorado

This stunning series of seven waterfalls fall 181 feet.  The water winds, weaves, and crashes through the light apricot-colored rock there in Colorado Springs’ South Cheyenne Canyon.  Take in the impressive sight of the perpendicular stairways, different disrupting lookout points, and the towering top platform that looks out over the meadows, prairies, and rough rock formations.

14.  Yellowstone Falls, Wyoming

There are many different beautiful spots in stunning Yellowstone National Park.  You really must not leave the world-famous park without heading for the Instagram-perfect Grand Prismatic Spring.  Here you will discover a trio of connected waterfalls that runs through the apricot and gray pine tree-studded cliffs and eventually flows into the great Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  

15.  ‘Akaka Falls, Hawaii

This 442-foot waterfall on Hawaii’s beautiful Big Island is made even more awesome by it’s lush, verdant natural backdrop.  Located in exotic ‘Akaka Falls State Park, the water here through a lush rainforest complete with ferns, banana trees, and bamboo and empties into a rugged round gorge.  You can see the smaller 100-foot Kahuna Falls here as well. 

16.  Niagara Falls, New York

While it’s not the highest waterfall, or even exactly in the US, Niagara Falls is arguably the most famous in the world.  Situated in New York State near Buffalo, three thunderous, wide cascades of water splash across the border into the country of Canada.  Here you will see the Bridal Veil Falls, American Falls, and Horseshoe Falls.  The water has a distinctive blue-green tint.

17.  Elakala Falls, West Virginia

Elakala Falls is situated within a park that’s named after another waterfall, Blackwater Falls State Park.  While beautiful Blackwater Falls is taller but Elakala Falls makes this list because of its gray, staggered steps.  Its naturally sculpted beauty makes it stand out.  A combination of tannic acid from red spruce and hemlock needles also gives the water here an unusual amber color.

18.  Shoshone Falls, Idaho

While your rovin’ writer tires of the Niagara nicknames, the truth is the Shoshone Falls deserves its moniker. It really is “‘the Niagara of the West.”  This terrific Twin Falls tourist attraction is comparable both audibly and visually.  Witness multiple cascades of rushing water crashing together and then emptying into the green Snake River.  It’s actually 36 feet higher than its East Coast “relative.”

19.  Waimoku Falls, Hawaii

Waimoku Falls is located in Haleakalā National Park on Maui.  This waterfall is 400 feet high.  The steep cascade rushes down a lava rock face into a pellucid pool.  Veteran visitors say that seeing this waterfall is the high point for those hiking the favored Pīpīwai Trail, which leads through a wild bamboo forest past the comparatively smaller 185-foot Makahiku Falls. 

20.  Bridal Veil Falls, Alaska

There are many Bridal Veil Falls in America.  This one is located outside of Valdez, the famed Land of Waterfalls.  The snowmelt cascades down the walls of the Keystone Canyon.  Indeed, dozens of these flows that will freeze in winter and leave a milk-white, thick trail of ice.  This makes it a favorite of ice climbers and fans of winter landscapes too.

21.  Whitewater Falls, North Carolina

Some travel writers say that Whitewater Falls is the most imposing cascade east of the famous Rocky Mountains.  It’s 411 feet high.  What makes it special to some is the way it flows over numerous tiers of protruding rocks.  This fall is bordered by precipitous, tree-covered slopes deep within the well-known Nantahala National Forest found in the southwest area of North Carolina.

22.  Bushkill Falls, Pennsylvania

Beautiful Bushkill Falls in the pretty Poconos Mountains is nicknamed “the Niagara of Pennsylvania” for a reason.  It’s not as dramatic, but those who have been there concluded this waterfall definitely has its own “beguiling beauty.”  This grand group of eight waterfalls has a 300-foot drop.  See the water flow through this diverse landscape of wooden bridges and declivitous rock faces.

23.  Great Falls, Virginia

Located near Washington, DC, what Great Falls lacks in height it makes up for with its stunning beauty.  The cascades are only a little over 20 feet with a total height of only 76 feet in less than one mile.  What is most impressive is the volume and speed of the water as it rushes down the famous Potomac River.  

24.  Potato River Falls, Wisconsin

While the Potato River Falls seems like it should be in the spuds-famous state of Idaho, it is actually situated in Gurney, Wisconsin.  Ensconced within a thick, green forest, It is not all that famous but it is quietly elegant and attractive.  The water plunges for a total of 90+ feet along the lesser-known Potato River.

25.  Bond Falls, Michigan

“The name is Bond” . . . Bond Falls.  The beautiful Bond Falls is no real secret.  You will find it in the state’s Western Upper Peninsula.  With a drop total of only 50 feet, these falls are certainly not the highest.  They are, however, stunning as the water runs through the surrounding pine forest and over sheer rock ledges along the awesome Ontonagon River. 

26.  Lower Calf Creek Falls, Utah

This is perhaps one of the nation’s most unique waterfalls.  You can actually see two falls in Calf Creek, off Scenic Byway 12.  There are the upper and the lower falls.  While they are both attractive, the Lower Calf Creek Falls surges a total of 126 feet down the mineral-stained sandstone into a gorgeous, great, green-tinted swimming hole.

27.  Snoqualmie Falls, Washington

You’ll find Snoqualmie Falls off the bustling I-90 interstate close to Seattle.  The roar of the water is so tumultuous it can reportedly “drown out” the honking hub-bub of the traffic.  Snoqualmie is actually a Salish term for “moon.”  Despite the mighty 268-foot cascade, this has been a spiritual spot for 100s of years.  It was featured in the  television program “Twin Peaks.”

28.  Brandywine Falls, Ohio

The caramel-colored, captivating Brandywine Falls are found in the rambling, thickly forested Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  the water plunges down 60 feet.  If you visit during the drier months you will be able to spot a specific bridal veil pattern upon the rocks.  Stay in the area during the winter, you might notice how it strangely freezes in mid-flow.

29.  Rainbow Falls, New York

Rainbow Falls is perhaps the best of the 19 different falls found in New York’s Watkins Glen State Park.  It is named for the way the afternoon sunlight actually infuses the stunning, shimmering sheet of freshwater with a cornucopia of colors.  Visit in the winter and you’ll see the scintillating sculptures created by the frozen falls.

30.  Havasu Falls, Arizona

Last but not least, is this world-famous Grand Canyon waterfall features a combo of colors that make it a “must-see.”  The pink and orange rocks truly become even more vibrant when seen along with the blue-green water in the pool below it.  It is only one of the five separate waterfalls you can see on the well-known Havasupai Indian Reservation.  

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