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Multnomah Falls, OR

Where to find the most stunning waterfalls in the USA

Beautiful, majestic, jaw-dropping—the best waterfalls in the U.S. are a sight to behold

Lauren Dana
Written by
Lauren Dana

TLC tells us not to go chasing waterfalls, but we have to (respectfully) disagree. These natural wonders are enchanting, scenic, and all-around awe-inspiring, which is why they’re well worth seeking out. However, with so many waterfalls across the United States—over 17,000, to be exact—narrowing down the best of the best was, in a word, difficult. Our top picks range from towering hidden (and not-so-hidden) gems tucked inside expansive albeit secluded parks to ones within easy driving distance of major metropolises (in fact, number one is actually smack-dab in the middle of a city!). Ahead, the most gorgeous waterfalls across America to add to your travel bucket list.

RECOMMENDED: The most spectacular natural wonders in the U.S.

Best waterfalls in the U.S.

Reedy River Falls, SC
Photograph: Courtesy VisitGreenvilleSC

1. Reedy River Falls, SC

Greenville is a quaint city just an hour’s drive from bustling Asheville—and it’s sure to impress with its walkable downtown, eclectic dining scene, and abundance of charming shops. What makes the destination especially unique is that there are waterfalls running right through downtown. To get a closer glimpse of the Reedy River Falls, make your way to the 32-acre Falls Park on the Reedy. It’s here where you’ll find the 345-foot-long Liberty Bridge, which offers Instagram-worthy waterfall views from all angles.

Niagara Falls, NY
Photograph: Courtesy NYSDED/Darren P. McGee

2. Niagara Falls, NY

Of course, you’ve heard of Niagara Falls, but did you know that the landmark is actually comprised of three different waterfalls? Horseshoe Falls is the largest, followed by American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Watch in awe as 2,160 tons (!) of clear-blue water flows over the falls every second. The best — and most fun — way to experience Niagara Falls? Hop aboard the Maid of the Mist sightseeing boat tour (though we recommend bringing along a poncho since you’ll definitely get wet).

Yosemite Falls, CA
Photograph: Courtesy National Park Service

3. Yosemite Falls, CA

Dropping a total of 2,425 feet from the top of the upper fall to the bottom of the lower fall—sidebar: it’s technically made up of three separate falls—Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in Yosemite National Park. With this in mind, it’s no surprise why the falls are amongst the park’s most popular attractions. While you can easily spot the falls from several spots surrounding the Valley, you may opt to see the falls up close on foot. Adventure-seeking travelers can trek to the top of the falls on a strenuous, all-day hike; however, an easier option would be to follow the one-mile-loop trail to the bass of the lower falls.

Multnomah Falls, OR

4. Multnomah Falls, OR

Located on Multnomah Creek in the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s tallest at 620 feet. The two-drop cascade, fed by rainwater and snowmelt, is also the state’s most visited site—and for good reason. The stream runs year-round, though it sometimes partially freezes in the winter (just be sure to dress warm!). For the best views, head to the Benson Bridge footbridge, which overlooks the falls. It’s also worth noting that Multnomah Falls are just 30 miles east of downtown Portland, making for a great day trip destination.

Yellow Dog Falls, MI
Photograph: Travel Marquette + Aaron Peterson

5. Yellow Dog Falls, MI

As you can guess by its name, the Yellow Dog Falls can be found along the Yellow Dog River on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Spanning 50 feet wide with a 30-foot drop, these picturesque falls—separated by a large boulder—are ideal for outdoor enthusiasts: Plenty of hiking, fishing, and swimming opps await. Speaking of the latter, at the bottom of the falls is a small, shallow, and sandy pool where travelers can enjoy a refreshing dip—though beware of the slippery rocks!

Snoqualmie Falls, WA
Photograph: Unsplash/Dave

6. Snoqualmie Falls, WA

For a quick and easy Seattle day trip, look no further than Snoqualmie Falls. Located on Snoqualmie River in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, this 270-foot waterfall is just a 40-minute drive from Seattle. (Plus, the drive up is part of the fun, as you pass through lush forests and quaint towns.) Here, you’ll also find a two-acre park, an observation deck, picnic tables, and a gift shop. Overlooking the falls is the luxe Salish Lodge & Spa, where you can dine cliffside and take in postcard-worthy views of the waterfall and surrounding scenery.

Bridal Veil Falls, CO
Photograph: Unsplash/Chad Madden

7. Bridal Veil Falls, CO

Bridal Veil Falls in Uncompahgre National Forest—an easy drive from the ski haven that is Telluride—are Colorado’s tallest free-falling falls at 360-plus feet high. Most travelers opt to hike to the top of the two-pronged waterfall, and there are two options: A strenuous 1.2-mile (one-way) trek with rough terrain or a longer, more moderate four-mile round-trip trail. However, that’s not to say you have to explore on foot: Other outdoor activities (think: biking, ice climbing, and four-wheel driving )are also popular here.

Cumberland Falls, KY
Photograph: Courtesy Kentucky Department of Tourism

8. Cumberland Falls, KY

Cumberland Falls is often referred to as the "Niagara of the South.” The beautiful waterfall clocks in at 125 feet wide and 68 feet tall. What’s especially unique about the waterfall is that it’s one of the very few locations where you can spot a “moonbow” (similar to a rainbow except it’s much paler and only occurs when light from the moon—not the sun—is refracted through water droplets in the air, in this case, the mist from the falls). Meanwhile, the surrounding Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is home to 17 miles of hiking trails, and other activities include horseback riding, boating, and fishing.

Rainbow Falls, NC
Photograph: Courtesy NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources/Craig West

9. Rainbow Falls, NC

Gorges State Park near Brevard (also known as “The Land of Waterfalls”) is home to several waterfalls, the most famous being Rainbow Falls. The 150-foot-tall waterfall can be viewed from any angle—top, bottom, side, and front. Flanked by a tranquil forest and a wildflower-studded meadow, it crashes into a boulder-filled pool where travelers can swim. Additionally, the hiking trail that takes you to Rainbow Falls is incredibly scenic (expect to see lots of lush flora); it also winds through the forest and takes you to several other nearby falls.

Crabtree Falls, VA
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Crabtree Falls, VA

Crabtree Falls is just six miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway, making an easy detour for those on a scenic road trip. It also just so happens to be the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi. Fun fact: Crabtree Falls is actually made up of five large waterfalls and a few smaller ones, and it drops a total of 1,200 feet. The first overlook is located along an easy paved trail; however, more adventurous hikers may choose to keep trekking (the panoramic mountain vistas are worth it!) to several other overlooks.

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