Beyond Niagara: Waterfalls in All 50 States
People travel thousands of miles to visit the world's largest and tallest waterfalls, but there are thousands of waterfalls throughout the United States that are easier and cheaper to enjoy. Tall, short, cascading, and plunging, they are often wondrous or delightful in their own right. Many of the waterfalls on this list are inexpensive to visit -- they're in state or national parks, or national forests, and entry costs $5 to $30 per vehicle for a seven-day pass. Entrance to national parks is free on Aug. 25 to honor the birthday of the National Park Service.
Located between Mentone and Fort Payne in northeastern Alabama, DeSoto State Park offers visitors hiking trails, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a playground, and several accommodation options. Find DeSoto Falls and its unobstructed, 104-foot drop several miles north of the park's more obvious attractions.
Some of Alaska's best-known waterfalls are visited throughout the year. Even when the water freezes, adventure seekers climb the ice. A few of the most famous are Bridal Veil Falls and Horsetail Falls, which can be found in Keystone Canyon on the drive to Valdez.
Havasu Falls attracts many to the Havasupai Reservation. Its beautiful turquoise pools are found at the bottom of the western part of the Grand Canyon, and the surrounding red rock adds a brilliant contrast. The cheapest way to get there is a 10-mile hike (one way); most people spend a night or two at the nearby campground or lodge when visiting. Entry to the reservation costs $35 a person.
At 210 feet, Hemmed-In-Hollow Falls in the Ponca Wilderness is the highest single-drop waterfall between the Rockies and Appalachians. The hike to the falls isn't exceptionally long -- about five miles round-trip -- but the way out is mostly uphill and can be very tiring.
Yosemite is home to several famous waterfalls. Bridalveil Fall is one of the first that visitors see; the Mist Trail takes visitors up to Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall; and Yosemite Falls, with its 1,430-foot drop in the upper section alone, is visible from most of the valley.
Waterfalls feed Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon, which is crystal clear with a Caribbean-like turquoise hue. They are also visible along the hike up to the lake. The trail is just a mile long but steep and difficult for some people. To protect the area, touching the water, bringing a dog, fishing, or standing under or above the falls is forbidden.
The highlight of Kent Falls State Park is a 70-foot waterfall that goes plunging and cascading down the rocks. Visitors can reach vantage points by hiking a quarter-mile trail alongside the falls. Appalachian Trail hikers pass by the park as the trail converges with the Housatonic River for several miles.
Delaware isn't home to any large waterfalls, but a few small, unnamed falls have been found in Brandywine Creek, near Wilmington's city zoo.
Falling Waters State Park in Chipley is a family-friendly outdoor destination. Walk along a boardwalk on the Sink Hole Trail to find the state's tallest waterfall. Rather than water plunging over a cliff, the waterfall is formed by a stream flowing into a 20-foot-wide, 100-foot-deep sinkhole.
Found in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Amicalola Falls is a 729-foot cascade more than four times the height of Niagara Falls. It gets crowded during peak leaf season; try to visit during the week. Visitors can park and take a short walk for a good view, or follow a harder, stair-filled trail alongside the falls for the full experience.
Waimoku Falls in Kipahulu, Maui, isn't especially easy to get to, but the journey is well worth it. Visitors drive the narrow and winding Hana Highway to the Kipahulu Visitor Center in Haleakala National Park. Then, there's a two-mile hike through a bamboo forest to reach Waimoku Falls. At 400 feet, it's the largest and one of the most stunning waterfalls on Maui.
The Snake River winds through southern Idaho and crashes over rock formations to create the Shoshone Falls. At 212 feet, it's taller than Niagara Falls, but diversion of the river for irrigation in late summer and fall often diminishes the flow.
Matthiessen State Park is home to 35-foot Lake Falls, and during the spring visitors can catch 45-foot Cascade Falls, as well. The small park can be explored in a single day, and nearby Starved Rock State Park also has several waterfalls (sometimes starved for water) ranging from 15 to 80 feet tall.
For a waterfall-filled day, head to Clifty Falls State Park in southeastern Indiana. There are dozens of waterfalls in the park, including four named falls: Big Clifty, Little Clifty, Tunnel, and Hoffman.
Iowa doesn't spring to mind when most people think waterfalls, but there's one in Dunnings Spring Park near Decorah. Explore the park by heading out on the hiking trails -- one goes up each side of the falls.
The 25-foot Cowley Lake Waterfall in southeast Kansas can be hard to find. Park in the west-end lot of Cowley County State Fishing Lake and climb down a small path, or drive on the dirt road west of the park, about 200 feet from the falls-feeding river.
Cumberland Falls, near Corbin, can be mesmerizing -- it is sometimes called Little Niagara or the Niagara of the South. One of its most magical elements: With a full moon on a clear night, visitors can see rainbows (or "moonbows") in the mist.
The area is rugged and used mostly by deer hunters, but Sicily Island Hills is home to some of Louisiana's few waterfalls. Take the Rock Falls Trail to see one of the tallest -- about 17 feet -- or the St. Mary's Falls Trail in the north to see several smaller ones.
Just west of Washington, D.C., the Great Falls of the Potomac are a series of rapids and cascading waterfalls. The tallest falls of the bunch are about 20 feet; in total the water level drops 76 feet in less than a mile.
Tannery Falls in the Savoy Mountain State Forest is a 50-foot waterfall with two distinct sections. The water plunges straight over a steep bluff, then cascades or slides through an S-curve as the rock starts to flatten out.
Bond Falls in the western Upper Peninsula drops about 50 feet and is more than 100 feet wide. Visitors can view the falls from a boardwalk and six designated viewing areas.
The land of 10,000 lakes also boasts some remarkable waterfalls. High Falls is the highlight of Grand Portage State Park, on the U.S.-Canada border. The 120-foot waterfall is a quick half-mile walk on a boardwalk from a parking lot. The park also features a four-mile hiking trail leading to a second waterfall, Middle Falls, and a view of Lake Superior.
In the very southwest tip of Mississippi, Clark Creek Natural Area has many waterfalls, including some more than 30 feet tall. It is a beautiful area for a day trip, although the trails are steep and unpaved; be prepared for a solid day's hike.
Grand Falls in Joplin is pretty small, but fun to visit: Swimmers can jump over the 12-foot falls to enjoy the pools below. Just be careful to pick a spot that's deep enough.
There are about 200 waterfalls in Glacier National Park, making it hard to pick just one to visit -- so don't. Virginia Falls, Running Eagles Falls, and Beaver Chief Falls at Lincoln Lake are high on many visitors' lists.
Smith Falls State Park is one of Nebraska's newest state parks. It is popular among campers and day-use visitors wanting to go tubing on a river or explore a hiking trail. (Hiking is limited on the river's south side to protect the environment, but a footbridge links the shores.) Two main waterfalls, including the state's highest, are easily accessible via a gravel path.
Head to Mount Charleston near Las Vegas for a break from the heat and follow the Mary Jane Falls Trail to see the trickling waterfall. The hike is less than three miles round-trip, but strenuous because of how steep it is. The good news is that there is shade throughout, and the water of Mary Jane Falls is cold and refreshing.
Considered one of the most spectacular waterfalls in New Hampshire, Arethusa Falls in Crawford Notch State Park is estimated at between 140 and 200 feet tall, depending on how it is measured. The hike to the falls and back is 2.8 miles. Those with more energy and time can visit another waterfall in the park, 100-foot Ripley Falls.
Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park marks one of the country's oldest industrial centers and features a 77-foot waterfall. A footbridge offers a picturesque view of the falls, although it has been closed for most of summer 2015.
Spring-fed Sitting Bull Falls near Carlsbad is a good destination for a day trip. Swim in the pools at the base, or sit under the falls and enjoy a natural massage.
Niagara Falls comprises three waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Niagara Falls has an exciting history of daredevils tightrope walking across the falls or going over one of the falls in a barrel. It is also one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the country.
Water cascades down a narrow 100-foot crevice in the rock at Big Bradley Falls in Saluda. The trail to the falls is short but can be dangerous -- several people have died -- so tread with caution. There's a 60-foot-wide stream crossing involved, and one route requires rappelling down a rock face to reach the base of the falls.
North Dakota has only one official natural waterfall, Mineral Springs Falls in the Sheyenne State Forest. The trail to the falls is about 4.4 miles round-trip, and there are two simple campsites along the way for overnight outings. With an 8-foot drop, Mineral Springs is not the grandest waterfall, but it's still a lovely spot for an outing.
Near central Dublin, Indian Run Falls Park offers city dwellers a space to enjoy the outdoors. The stream that runs through the park creates a series of short waterfalls that can be viewed from an accompanying walking trail. On hot days, visitors enjoy jumping into the stream and playing in the falls.
Turner Falls Park in Davis is the oldest state park in Oklahoma and, at 77 feet, Turner Falls is tied for tallest waterfall in the state. The park and falls are in the Arbuckle Mountains in south-central Oklahoma and were named after Mazeppa Thomas Turner, who found the falls and settled in the area in the mid-19th century.
East of Portland, in the Columbia River Gorge, 620-foot Multnomah Falls claims the title of tallest waterfall in Oregon. There are wheelchair-accessible viewing areas, and a footbridge over the lower falls offers a good vantage point. This is one of the few waterfalls in the region that flows year-round, and large crowds can make visiting difficult at times.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area sits on both sides of the border between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Formed by glaciers and thousands of years of water eating away at rock formations, the area has many waterfalls to explore. The most well-known is 130-foot Dingmans Falls, on the Pennsylvania side.
In spite of the relatively flat terrain, there are a few small waterfalls in Rhode Island. In the Arcadia Wildlife Management Area, the Ben Utter Trail -- less than four miles round-trip -- leads hikers to Stepstone Falls. The falls drop a total of about 10 feet in a series of steps, the largest being about 3 feet.
The Waterfall Trail along Fall Creek is a two-mile round-trip hike that brings hikers face to face with three waterfalls. Each is a cascade with heights ranging from about 20 to 40 feet. The first two are easy to get to, but the path to the third and tallest isn't well-marked, making the trip more challenging.
For waterfalls in South Dakota, head to Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills National Forest. Many falls can be seen from the road and some, such as Bridal Veil Falls, have dedicated parking lots and viewing areas. Roughlock Falls, one of the most popular, is accessible by car or an easy one-mile hike from Savoy. During the winter, ice climbers take to the frozen waterfalls.
Waterfalls are often surrounded by dense greenery, but that's not the case at Ruby Falls in Chattanooga. The falls are more than 1,100 feet below the surface, in a cave under Lookout Mountain. To see the 145-foot waterfall, visitors must take a guided tour, which costs $19 for adults and $11 for children.
Gorman Falls in Colorado Bend State Park is one of Texas's biggest, at 65 feet. The three-mile round-trip hike to the falls can be strenuous, but reserve some energy and go just a bit farther to find the spring that feeds the waterfall. The park offers free guided tours of the falls starting at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
One of Utah's best-known waterfalls, Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, is a double-cataract waterfall -- meaning there are two large and powerful sections -- with a total drop of 607 feet. It can be viewed from a parking lot, although a short hike brings visitors to the base of the falls. Feel free to cool off in the stream, or buy fish food pellets for a quarter and feed the trout that live in an artificial pool.
Moss Glen Falls in Granville (not to be confused with Moss Glen Falls in Stowe) is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Vermont. The falls can be seen from the road, and a raised wooden walkway brings visitors closer. The horsetail-style falls are about 35 feet tall.
Crabtree Falls is a cascading waterfall broken up by five major drops. In total, the falls cover between 1,000 and 1,200 vertical feet, making this the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi. A maintained trail leads to several overlooks, the first of which is near the parking lot. It's tempting to explore, but stick to the designated trail; nearly 30 people have died while climbing the algae-coated rocks.
One of the most visited waterfalls in the state, 270-foot Snoqualmie Falls is known from the TV show "Twin Peaks." It plays host to many weddings and tourists each year. Due to its popularity, parking can be a pain, but this can sometimes be avoided by parking in a lower lot and hiking up to the main viewing area. Recent renovations revived trails and part of the boardwalk.
A 62-foot waterfall, Blackwater Falls is one of the most photographed natural sights in West Virginia. The water is blackened by tannic acid introduced when hemlock and red spruce needles fall from the nearby trees. Blackwater Falls State Park is visited year-round for hiking, swimming, boating, sledding, and cross-country skiing.
Southwest of the town of Gurney, Potato River Falls isn't a particularly popular tourist attraction, but there's a parking lot and an observation deck, as well as trails that lead visitors to the river above and below the falls. Snapping the best pictures might mean getting a little wet; the ideal spot is on the opposite side of the river.
Some of the grandest waterfalls in Wyoming are in Yellowstone National Park. The Lower Falls and Upper Falls on the Yellowstone River are two of the most popular, but Fairy Falls, Tower Fall, and Moose Falls are all worth exploring. Some, such as 308-foot Lower Falls, can be seen from the road, but hiking usually leads to the best viewpoints.