top 10 most beautiful waterfalls in the US
top 10 most beautiful waterfalls in the US

When most people think of a waterfall, they picture the tropics of South America. Many don't realize that the United States boasts numerous amazing waterfalls making it simple to plan a trip around these natural wonders.

From the world-famous Niagara Falls in New York to some of the lesser-known but just as spectacular TahquamenonFalls in Michigan, there are plenty of places across the US where you can get close to nature and see some spectacular waterfalls.

Read further to find out some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the US.

List of top 10 most beautiful waterfalls in the U.S

10. Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan

9. Alamere Falls, California

8. Cumberland Falls, Kentucky

7. Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon, Arizona

6. Palouse Falls, Washington

5. Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

4. Multnomah Falls, Oregon

3. Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls, Idaho

2. Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California

1. Niagara Falls, New York

The top 10 most beautiful waterfalls in the U.S

10. Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

The Tahquamenon Falls are two different waterfalls on the Tahquamenon River. Both sets are located near Lake Superior in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The water is notably brown in color from the tannins leached from the cedar swamps which the river drains. Consequently, the upper falls are nicknamed, "The Root Beer Falls".

The upper falls are more than 200 feet (60 m) across and with a drop of approximately 48 feet (14 m) During the late spring runoff, the river drains as much as 50,000 US gallons (190,000 L) of water per second, making the upper falls the third most voluminous vertical waterfall east of the Mississippi River, after Niagara Falls and Cohoes Falls. Cohoes Falls is located in New York State, whereas Niagara Falls is located on the US-Canadian border, between the Province of Ontario and the State of New York.

The lower falls, located four miles (6.5 km) downstream, are a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island which can be reached by rowboat. A hiking trail runs between the falls along the riverside, and visitors often play in the lower falls during the summer heat.

9. Alamere Falls, California

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Alamere Falls is a waterfall in Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California. Alamere Falls is a rare "tidefall", a waterfall that flows directly into the ocean. It is one of only two known tidefalls in California, the other being McWay Falls.

Alamere Falls tumble over fragile shale cliffs at Alamere Creek Beach. Upstream of the main Alamere Falls is the upper Alamere Falls, consisting of three separate cascades. Together, these cascades are approximately 20–30 feet (6–9 m) in height. All of these waterfalls are fed by the Alamere Creek.

Alamere Falls can be reached by following the Coast Trail from the Palomarin Trailhead at the end of Mesa Road out of Bolinas, California. After 2.5 mi (4.0 km), the trail passes two small lakes (Bass Lake and Pelican Lake). Bass Lake can be accessed by a side trail that leads to a rope swing, and hikers often stop for a swim during summer months. From the Palomarin Trailhead, the hike is 3.8 mi (6.1 km), one-way, to the top of the falls. To reach the bottom of the falls, the National Park Service advises hikers to continue to Wildcat Campground, descend to the beach and then walk 1.1 mi (1.8 km) south; the one-way distance from Palomarin Trailhead to the base of the falls is 6.6 mi (10.6 km).

8. Cumberland Falls, Kentucky

Photo: Kentucky State Parks
Photo: Kentucky State Parks

Cumberland Falls, sometimes called the Little Niagara, the Niagara of the South, or the Great Falls, is a waterfall on the Cumberland River in southeastern Kentucky. Spanning the river at the border of McCreary and Whitley counties, the waterfall is the central feature of Cumberland Falls State Resort Park and is part of the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves designated Wild River System.

It is believed the current falls formed as the result of erosion from its original starting place at an escarpment far downstream. The site of the falls was occupied in pre-modern times by a variety of indigenous peoples, and more recently has passed through multiple private owners until eventually being donated, along with surrounding land to Kentucky in 1933.

It is the only site in the Western Hemisphere where a moonbow is regularly visible.

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7. Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Photo: The New York Times
Photo: The New York Times

A series of beautiful and photogenic waterfalls can be found on Havasu Creek, a tributary to the Grand Canyon. The water flows out of limestone, which gives it a pleasing blue-green hue. The waterfalls have created large plunge pools that are clear, deep and inviting. People come from around the world to view the waterfalls and Grand Canyon scenery, and swim in the pools.

The area is part of the Havasupai Indian Reservation and is managed by the tribe. The number of visitors is restricted and reservations are required. See the tribe's website for contact numbers and info about making reservations. You must apply for reservations months in advance for trips during the tourism season.

May/June and September/October are the best months to visit if you want to play in the water. Hiking conditions are excellent in the earlier spring and later fall, but the water will be cold and less inviting. The water is delightful during mid-summer but hiking conditions are hot.

You must hike/backpack or ride horses to reach the waterfalls. From the trailhead, it is 8 miles to the Havasupai village of Supai, where you check-in at the tourism office. You can also buy basic supplies, food, and drinks in the village.

Havasu Falls is located 2 miles below the village. Mooney Falls is a mile further down the trail. A campground can be found along the stream between those two waterfalls. Most tourists camp but some elect to stay in the lodge in the village. The village also offers a small cafe.

All supplies brought into the village and campground come by backpacking, mule train or helicopter. The village receives mail by mule train. Because of its remote location, supplies in the village are more expensive than similar items at your local grocery store.

The 10-mile trail from the trailhead to the campground is steep, particularly on the upper end. It is also rocky and in some spots, it is fully exposed to the summer sun. Backpacking here is strenuous. Many visitors elect to have their packs carried in by mule trail. Some pack in but then have the mules carry their gear out.

The trailhead is called Hualapai Hilltop. It is located at the end of Indian Road 18, 60 miles north of the Junction of Road 18 and Hyw 66. The junction is between Seligman and Peach Springs, in northwest Arizona. This is a remote area about 235 miles east of Las Vegas, or about 165 miles northwest of Flagstaff, AZ. Some computer/internet map programs show alternate routes to the Hilltop but those are rugged backroads not recommended for automobile travel. Indian Road 18 provides the best access.

6. Palouse Falls, Washington

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Palouse Falls is a waterfall on the Palouse River, about 4 mi (6 km) upstream of the confluence with the Snake River in southeast Washington, United States. The falls are 200 ft (61 m) in height. The falls consist of an upper fall with a drop around 20 ft (6.1 m), which lies 1,000 ft (305 m) north-northwest of the main drop, and a lower fall, with a drop of 200 ft (61 m). It is in the 94-acre (38 ha) Palouse Falls State Park.

The canyon at the falls is 115 m (377 ft) deep, exposing a large cross-section of the Columbia River Basalt Group. These falls and the canyon downstream are an important feature of the channeled scablands created by the great Missoula floods that swept periodically across eastern Washington and across the Columbia River Plateau during the Pleistocene epoch.

The ancestral Palouse River flowed through the currently dry Washtucna Coulee to the Columbia River. The Palouse Falls and surrounding canyons were created when the Missoula floods overtopped the south valley wall of the ancestral Palouse River, diverting it to the current course to the Snake River by erosion of a new channel.

The area is characterized by interconnected and hanging flood-created coulees, cataracts, plunge pools, kolk-created potholes, rock benches, buttes, and pinnacles typical of scablands. Palouse Falls State Park is located at the falls, protecting this part of the uniquely scenic area.

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5. Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Photo: World of Waterfalls
Photo: World of Waterfalls

Yellowstone Falls consist of two major waterfalls on the Yellowstone River, within Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States. As the Yellowstone river flows north from Yellowstone Lake, it leaves the Hayden Valley and plunges first over Upper Yellowstone Falls and then a quarter mile (400 m) downstream over Lower Yellowstone Falls, at which point it then enters the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which is up to 1,000 feet (304 m) deep.

The upper falls (44°42′46″N 110°29′59″W) are 109 feet (33 m) high. The brink of the upper falls marks the junction between a hard rhyolite lava flow and weaker glassy lava that has been more heavily eroded.

4. Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Multnomah Falls is a waterfall located on Multnomah Creek in the Columbia River Gorge, east of Troutdale, between Corbett and Dodson, Oregon, United States. The waterfall is accessible from the Historic Columbia River Highway and Interstate 84. Spanning two tiers on basalt cliffs, it is the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon at 620 ft (189 m) in height.

The land surrounding the falls was developed by Simon Benson in the early-twentieth century, with a pathway, viewing bridge, and adjacent lodge being constructed in 1925. The Multnomah Falls Lodge and the surrounding footpaths at the falls were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. Contemporarily, the state of Oregon maintains a switchback trail that ascends to a talus slope 100 feet (30 m) above the falls, and descends to an observation deck that overlooks the falls' edge. The falls attract over two million visitors each year, making it the most-visited natural recreation site in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

3. Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls, Idaho

Photo: City of Twin Falls
Photo: City of Twin Falls

Shoshone Falls is a waterfall in the western United States, on the Snake River in south-central Idaho, approximately three miles (5 km) northeast of the city of Twin Falls. Sometimes called the "Niagara of the West," Shoshone Falls is 212 feet (65 m) in height, 45 feet (14 m) higher than Niagara Falls, and flows over a rim nearly one thousand feet (300 m) in width.

Formed by the cataclysmic outburst flooding of Lake Bonneville during the Pleistocene ice age about 14,000 years ago, Shoshone Falls marks the historical upper limit of fish migration (including salmon) in the Snake River, and was an important fishing and trading place for Native Americans. The falls were documented by Europeans as early as the 1840s; despite the isolated location, it became a tourist attraction starting in the 1860s.

At the beginning of the 20th century, part of the Snake River was diverted for irrigation of the Magic Valley. Now, the flows over the falls can be viewed seasonally based on snowfall, irrigation needs and hydroelectric demands. Irrigation and hydroelectric power stations built on the falls were major contributors to the early economic development of southern Idaho.

The City of Twin Falls owns and operates a park overlooking the waterfall. Shoshone Falls is best viewed in the spring, as diversion of the Snake River can significantly diminish water levels in the late summer and fall. The flow over the falls ranges from more than 20,000 cubic feet per second (570 m3/s) during late spring of wet years, to a minimum "scenic flow" (dam release) of 300 cu ft/s (8.5 m3/s) in dry years.

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2. Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California

Photo: TripSavvy
Photo: TripSavvy

Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in Yosemite National Park, dropping a total of 2,425 feet (739 m) from the top of the upper fall to the base of the lower fall. Located in the Sierra Nevada of California, it is a major attraction in the park, especially in late spring when the water flow is at its peak.

Upper Yosemite Fall: The 1,430-foot (440 m) plunge comprises over half the total drop. Trails from the valley floor and down from other park areas outside the valley lead to both the top and base of Upper Yosemite Fall. The upper fall is formed by the swift waters of Yosemite Creek, which, after meandering through Eagle Creek Meadow, drop over the edge of a hanging valley in a spectacular and deafening show of force.

The Middle Cascades, other than the last drop, are not visible from the Valley

Middle Cascades: Between the two obvious main plunges there are a series of four smaller plunges collectively referred to as the Middle Cascades. Taken together these account for a total drop of 675 feet (206 m), more than twice the height of the Lower Fall. Because of the narrow, constricted shape of the gorge in which these drops occur and the lack of public access, they are rarely noted. Most viewpoints in the valley miss them entirely. Several vantage points for the cascades are found along the Yosemite Falls trail. Several hikers climbing down from the trail towards the cascades have required an expensive helicopter rescue due to steep and slippery terrain and features.

Lower Fall as viewed from trail

Lower Yosemite Fall: The final 320-foot (98 m) drop adjacent to an accessible viewing area, provides the most-used viewing point for the waterfalls. Yosemite Creek emerges from the base of the Lower Fall and flows into the Merced River nearby. Like many areas of Yosemite the plunge pool at the base of the Lower Fall is surrounded by dangerous jumbles of talus made even more treacherous by the high humidity and resulting slippery surfaces.

1. Niagara Falls, New York

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Niagara Falls is not only one of the famous waterfalls in the world but also the largest waterfall in the US in terms of volume. It is comprised of three different waterfalls - Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.

Voyage to the Horseshoe Falls in the Maid of the Mist boat from May through October for a grand sight of the falls.

Ride a glass elevator to the Prospect Observation Tower to view Bridal Falls on the Cave of the Winds Tour. The massive 400-acre park offers wildlife, dazzling scenery, and more.

Don't forget your rain gear. Be sure to visit at night when everything is ablaze with a variety of lights.

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