Palu­ose Falls, Washington

With the melt­ing snow and increased pre­cip­i­ta­tion asso­ci­at­ed with spring, there are few bet­ter times in the year to admire an immense water­fall or two. From the Cas­cades out west to the Blue Ridge Moun­tains in the east, mas­sive and scenic water­falls are surg­ing to catch your atten­tion. Access to these bril­liant dis­plays of grav­i­ty vary from road­side park­ing spots to longer hikes and each water­fall is always sur­round­ed a lush scenery aid­ed by plen­ty of water. While the list below is only a frac­tion of all the water­falls to find in the Unit­ed States, each one guar­an­tees a healthy dose of fast-mov­ing sys­tems and ver­ti­cal attraction.

Palouse Falls
Palouse Falls State Park, Washington
Locat­ed with­in a state park of its own name, Palouse Falls plum­mets near­ly 200 feet into the undu­lat­ing canyon envi­ron­ment known as the Palouse Prairie region of south­east Wash­ing­ton. A slight­ly less­er-known adven­ture out­post in a state stacked with stun­ning nat­ur­al land­scapes, Palouse Falls became the offi­cial water­fall of Wash­ing­ton per 2014 state leg­is­la­tion. Vis­it the water­fall at the 105-acre state park and you can see the falls from three dis­tinct van­tage points. Make sure to uti­lize the first-come, first-serve tent camp­ing space for extend­ed stays.

High Falls
Grand Portage State Park, Minnesota
Abut­ting the Cana­di­an and U.S. Bor­der in north­ern Min­neso­ta, Grand Portage State Park received its name thanks to its 120-foot water­fall that served as a great has­sle when trav­el­ing by boat down the Pigeon Riv­er. Trav­el­ing to the High Falls of Grand Portage is a lit­tle eas­i­er in cur­rent times. Inter­est­ed spec­ta­tors can check out the gush­ing water with an acces­si­ble half-mile board­walk trail and obser­va­tion deck. For the more ath­let­i­cal­ly inclined, a five-mile loop trail takes vis­i­tors over a more rugged path to check out the equal­ly inspir­ing Mid­dle Falls.

Low­er Yel­low­stone Falls

Upper and Low­er Falls
Grand Canyon of the Yel­low­stone, Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park, Wyoming
At up to 1,200 feet deep and 4,000 feet wide, the Grand Canyon of the Yel­low­stone Riv­er is one of many awe-inspir­ing ele­ments of Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park. Con­tain­ing two daz­zling water­falls with­in sight of each oth­er (the Upper and Low­er Falls), vis­i­tors to the Grand Canyon of the Yel­low­stone Riv­er have many ways to appre­ci­ate the frothy scene. The Brink of Low­er Falls Trail lends a great view of the Low­er Falls before it plunges 309 feet below. Artist Point, Grand View, and Inspi­ra­tion Point Trails all live up to their high-expec­ta­tion names.

Upper White­wa­ter Falls
Nan­ta­ha­la Nation­al For­est, North Carolina
Near the bor­der of North and South Car­oli­na, the Upper White­wa­ter Falls is one of the largest water­falls east of the Rock­ies. I sits on the edge of the Nan­ta­ha­la Nation­al For­est, 60 miles from Asheville. The rugged escarp­ment that lends to the water­falls stature also makes explor­ing the area dif­fi­cult to do. Vis­i­tors can access view­ing plat­forms for the falls by a paved jaunt from a park­ing area that costs $2 to park. A foothill trail from there can get you to the base of the falls, but all vis­i­tors are encour­aged to not wan­der far from the well-worn path.

The Broad­moor Sev­en Falls
Col­orado Springs, Colorado
Col­orado has a lot of nat­ur­al won­der to choose from, includ­ing a wide array of water­falls through­out the state. One of many daz­zling dis­plays can be found on the grounds of the His­toric Broad­moor Resort in Col­orado Springs. Cel­e­brat­ing its cen­ten­ni­al in 2018, there are many great rea­sons to vis­it the Broad­moor and spend the night. The resort includes its own per­son­al canyon and water­fall, the Sev­en Falls water­fall, which snakes its way 181 feet down a nar­row box canyon. Vis­i­tors can take stairs all the way to the top to track its journey.

Mult­nom­ah Falls, Oregon

Mult­nom­ah Falls
Colum­bia Riv­er Gorge Nation­al Scenic Area, Oregon
The Colum­bia Riv­er Gorge, sit­ting at sea-lev­el between Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon, uti­lizes its low posi­tion to catch plen­ty of water through­out the year. Along the 80-mile stretch of the des­ig­nat­ed gorge, there are hun­dreds of water­falls to scout out and see. Mult­nom­ah is per­haps the most pop­u­lar of all the falls. It con­sists of over 600 feet of ver­ti­cal drop on dis­play between its two steps. The Mult­nom­ah Lodge* is accessed right off the high­way and is a good hub for embark­ing on the short trail to the view­ing plat­form of the falls.

Falls Trail
Rick­etts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania
Tout­ed as one of the most scenic areas in Penn­syl­va­nia, Rick­etts Glen State Park occu­pies over 13,000 square miles in the north­east part of the state. The park deliv­ers a dense selec­tion of pic­ture-wor­thy water­falls. Rang­ing from 12 feet to 94 feet, Rick­etts Glen State Park fea­tures 21 dif­fer­ent water­falls along the 7.1‑mile lol­lipop-loop with­in the Glens Nat­ur­al Area. Wear prop­er shoes (san­dals are pro­hib­it­ed) and find which fall is your favorite on this fam­i­ly friend­ly trek. 

Ruby Falls
Look­out Moun­tain, Chat­tanooga Tennessee
Ruby Falls pro­vides an inter­est­ing water­fall expe­ri­ence that can be found at few oth­er places in the world. The falls have a sub­ter­ranean sta­tus which can only be dis­cov­ered via a guid­ed tour. Orig­i­nat­ing as a road­side attrac­tion, over the last 100 years Ruby Falls and the sur­round­ing cav­ern have grown into a tourism sta­ple in the south­east today. Reg­u­lar tours, lantern-led pro­grams, and spe­cial pro­mo­tion pack­ages all allow patrons to get a glimpse at the under­ground show. For an addi­tion­al unique expe­ri­ence dur­ing your vis­it to Ruby Falls and Thun­der Moun­tain, check­out the Look­out Moun­tain Incline Rail­way which takes patrons on a one-mile, 72.7% grad­ed incline, scenic ride to the top of Look­out Mountain.


*Note: The Mult­nom­ah Falls Lodge is open amidst the dam­age done by the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, but as of 1/22/2018, the view­ing plat­form is closed to the public.

Watch as Red Bull ath­lete Rafa Ortiz trades his kayak for an inflat­able lob­ster and then sends a 70 foot water­fall as if it was super casu­al. Most peo­ple would prob­a­bly con­sid­er send­ing a water­fall in a kayak to be enough, for Ortiz it’s just anoth­er day in the office.


Raft­ing over a 125-foot water­fall seems impos­si­ble, but in this cam­era phone video, Dan McCain, proves the impos­si­ble is only a fig­ment of our imag­i­na­tion by drop­ping over the spill­way of the Con­dit Dam on the White Salmon Riv­er in Washington.

For more exten­sive cov­er­age, check out Kraig Beck­er’s post on The Adven­ture Blog.

It’s more than ille­gal and impres­sive; how­ev­er, it is now actu­al­ly impossible.

On Octo­ber 28, 2011, Paci­fi­Corp explod­ed their 100-year old dam. Andy Maser cap­tured a beau­ti­ful time-lapse video sequence of the explo­sion. Lis­ten for the detonator’s yell, “Fire in the hole!”

And if you’re a pad­dler, or a con­ser­va­tion­ist, give a yell of your own. That dark tor­rent burst­ing from the breached dam’s base is the first time the White Salmon Riv­er has flowed in over a century.

It’s tak­en over a year to remove all the debris, but this stretch is now offi­cial­ly open for rafting.