Are you a waterfall chaser? Well the USA has some pretty amazing waterfalls from the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest to the dry deserts of Arizona.
With such a range on offer from tall, short, double, wide and rainbow filled, it’s difficult to narrow down a list of the best waterfalls in the US.
It is of course, completely subjective AND, we have not yet seen every single waterfall in the US.
We like to write based upon personal experience, and with our extensive research, we think we’ve chose an pretty great list on top waterfalls in the USA to help you with your travel planning.
We’ve visited everyone, except for the last two, which we feel safe in saying are unmissable. Many I’ve chosen not just for the beauty of the waterfall itself, but the also the surrounding areas and adventures to get there.
We plan to continue to visit waterfalls in the US, particular now on the East Coast where we are based. So please leave a comment with your favorites and the best way to experience them!
The Upper & Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
And you thought Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming was just about bison and geysers! It also has one of the most impressive waterfall sights in America.
The Upper and Lower Waterfalls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is a sight to behold.
The Yellowstone River runs through the Yellowstone, plunging 109 feet at the Upper Falls and then another 308 feet at the spectacular Lower Falls down into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
We recommend spending time to explore both the North and South rim of the Grand Canyon, as it offers a wide perspective of its dramatic splendor.
Read More: 23 Things to do in Yellowstone National Park
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
At 620 ft. high, Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s top tourist attraction. It’s the second tallest year-round waterfall in the USA, and the most-visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest!
The two-drop waterfall is surrounded by lush greenery and cascades down the basalt cliff face into pools.
We highly recommend doing the 5 mile Wahkeena Falls Loop Trail, which passes five other Columbia River Gorge waterfalls and plenty of smaller cascades as the Multnomah and Wahkeena Creek makes their way down the canyons.
The waterfall loop walk will help you escape the crowds, appreciate the towering evergreens, get spectacular views, and see several more waterfalls, including the popular Fairy Falls and Wahkeena Falls.
Read More: Highlights of the Columbia River Gorge
Sahalie Falls, Oregon
Hiking the Koosah to Sahalie waterfall trail in the McKenzie River Valley was one of my favorite things to do in Oregon.
It’s a short 0.5 mile one way trail that meanders beside the river through a green forest and the most beautiful luminous blue water you’ll ever see.
Sahalie Falls is a mass of foaming white water plunging 100 feet (30 m) over a natural lava dam. It’s spectacular enough that it’s featured in Disney’s movie “Homeward Bound”.
Koosah Falls drops approximately 70 feet (21 m) into a deep pool and has a less dramatic viewpoint, but still worth seeing. Start from Koosah Falls and walk north (parking is better at Koosah.)
While in this area, why not also visit Proxy Falls, one of the most photographed falls in Central Oregon, for its tranqul and lush rainforest vibe.
Read more McKenzie River, Oregon Highlights
Tokatee Falls, Oregon
Toketee Falls had a lush, tropical beauty that reminded me of Hawaii. It’s one of the best waterfalls I saw in Oregon.
It’s an easy 0.6 mile trail to the lookout point to see this two-tiered waterfall thundering into the pools below. The upper falls descent drops 40 feet, and the lower falls plunges 80 feet over a sheer wall of basalt.
The trail passes through an old-growth stand of Douglas-fir, Western red cedar, big leaf maple, and Pacific yew. The North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River is visible at several points, cascading through a narrow rock gorge.
Read more things to do in the Umpqua National Forest, Oregon.
Anna Ruby Falls, Georgia
It didn’t take long on the short hiking trial to the Anna Ruby Falls for me to mark it as one of my favorite waterfalls in the USA.
The 0.4 mile trail from the visitors center through the lush verdant forest past the meandering, full-flowing and cascading Smith creek was enough for me to know this place was special.
Anna Ruby Falls is a double waterfall. At 150 feet above, the Curtis and York Creek (which starts high on Tray Mountain on the Appalachian Trail,) come thundering down the cliff face and merge together at the bottom to form Smith Creek (which runs through Unicoi).
It is an impressive sight and a waterfall vista you won’t forget. You will find this stunning US waterfall in the Chattahoochee National Forest, which borders Unicoi State Park in the mountains of Georgia.
Amicalola Falls, Georgia
Amicalola means “Tumbling Waters” in Cherokee which is exactly what your senses will experience at Amicalola Falls in the Amicalola Falls State Park in the North Georgia Mountains.
At 729ft high, it is the highest waterfall in Georgia and the third-highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River.
What’s unique about these falls is that you can experience it from multiple angles – from the top, the base of the falls, the middle observation decks, and views from far away! All of which can be reached by beautiful forested trails, and hundreds of steps!
I recommend you do all of the above.
Also, don’t miss sunset from the lodge in this state park overlooking the mountains – SENSATIONAL.
Read our in-depth guide to the Amicalola Falls State Park
Bridalveil Falls, California
One of the best waterfall views you’ll have in all of America is standing at Tunnel View and looking down the valley as the walls of the mountain cry their tears.
Most striking is Bridalveil Falls as it plunders 620 feet over the top down into the forested valley. Here is where you’ll get your classic view of El Capitan, Half Dome, Sentinel Rocks and Cathedral Rocks.
Bridalveil Falls is opposite El Capitan, one of the most famous cliff faces in Yosemite NP.
The Bridalveil Falls Trail is pretty and one of the easiest hikes in Yosemite with kids, and one of the best places in Yosemite to get up close to a waterfall.
Quite Frankly, every waterfall in Yosemite National Park could be named in this best waterfalls in the USA list.
If you want to see it’s full ferociously tumbling grandeur, visit in May with the snowmelt making them eye poppingly beautiful.
Vernal Falls, California
Vernal Falls is one of the most popular Yosemite attractions, and one of the most famous Yosemite hiking trails.
From moss covered rocks lining the path to valley views, and spraying waterfalls, this hike has it all, and is fun.
Vernal Falls thunders 317 feet down and sprays you as you walk the 600 stone steps beside it. It’s a very dramatic walk – and slippery so take care.
As you are walking up to the top of Vernal Falls be sure to look back. Odds are very high that you will see a rainbow. We saw so many and it was spectacular.
It just gets better as you stand above Vernal Falls and witness the power of the water surging over the edge.
Read More: 18 Amazing Things to do in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Falls, California
Okay, one more Yosemite waterfall.
Yosemite Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in the USA, and is said to be the tallest waterfall in North America at 2,245 ft tall.
It’s easily accessed on a one mile round trip that takes you to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls. As you walk down the path you get a fantastic view of Upper Yosemite Falls as it cascades down into Lower Yosemite Falls.
But at the end of the trail you can only see Lower Yosemite Falls.
In 2006, Craig and I continued walking up to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. It’s a 7.2 mile return strenuous hike so we weren’t going to do the Yosemite Falls hike with kids – as I remember collapsing into our tent after it!
You can walk to the top of Lower Yosemite Falls, which is 2 mile round trip
McWay Falls, California
We can’t NOT include a waterfall that spills out onto the beach.
Known more for its impressive coastal surroundings, than the grandeur of the Falls itself, McWay Falls is a definite highlight of a Big Sur road trip in California.
Located in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, the 80-foot McWay Falls is created by water that flows from McWay Creek directly into the ocean (or the sand, depending on the tide levels).
Sunset is when the Falls really lights up
It is illegal and dangerous to hike down to the bottom. If you get caught, you’re looking at about a $300 ticket. Ask a park ranger whether you could paddle down in to the bottom on a kayak which people have been known to do.
There is a short trail that leads to overlooks of McWay Falls.
Read: Epic Guide: 46 things to do in California
Lower Calf Creek, Utah
I love how off the beaten path Lower Calf Creek Falls in Utah is. This spectacular waterfall in Southern Utah lies at the end of a 3 mile hike (that’s 6 mile return) in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
The hike to the falls is beautiful taking you through the valley, enclosed by towering cliffs of red, pink, orange and yellow – and across soft sand beside a crystal clear creek.
Then we walked into the gorgeous oasis at the end was where the Lower Calf Creek Falls plummets 126-foot down over the rock face hitting the pool of water down below in an upside down Y formation.
A sandy beach framed it and the creek began off to the side with lovely green trees covering it giving it almost a tropical feel.
Read More: Lower Calf Creek Falls, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Ruby Falls, Chattanooga
For this unique USA waterfall we are headed deep underground Lookout Mountain Chattanooga in Tennessee.
While not as spectacular and grand as some of the other waterfalls on our best of list, its uniqueness for being an underground waterfall and the story of its discovery deserves a place on this list.
We walked through the caverns, 260 feet deep inside the mountain to follow the path its discoverer, Leo Lambert, took in 1928, except he crawled through tight spaces.
Now colorful lights illuminate the stalagmites, stalagmites, and unusual and beautiful rock formations.
Ruby Falls lies at the end of the trail, made even more beautiful by the colored light display surrounding it. It is the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the USA
High Falls (Lovers Leap), Chattanooga
I debated putting High Falls, otherwise known as Lovers Leap, on the best waterfalls of the US list as it’s actually a man made waterfall.
But, the view of this 100 ft. waterfall tumbling down the rock face with the lush background is is simply jaw dropping. It’s one of my favorite waterfall vistas in the country.
Just as good is the enchanting trail you follow to get here meandering around giant rock boulders, through gardens and narrow canyons, alongside babbling brooks, into caves, and across swinging bridges.
You do have to pay to enter Rock City Gardens which is where you’ll find this waterfall in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Read more things to do in Chattanooga here.
Mesa Falls, Idaho
Lower Mesa Falls and Upper Mesa Falls are spectacular waterfalls along the Henrys Fork of the Snake River, deep in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Idaho . It’s one of my favorite waterfalls in the country for its unexpected surprise and hidden wilderness feel.
The water tumbles over million-year-old volcanic rock, down into a narrow valley surrounded by lush foliage, and steep forested cliffs. It’s the first time my girls have been that close to such a powerful waterfall and they were more than WOWED.
Upper Mesa Falls has a short boardwalk that offers multiple viewpoints. Lower Mesa Falls offers a long-distance view of the falls from Grandview Overlook. There is a mile hike between the two waterfalls if you want more adventure.
High on my exploring waterfalls in the USA list is Shoshone Falls in Idaho. This 212-foot tall, 1000-foot wide massive waterfall; one of the most powerful waterfalls in the country. I would love to do the kayak up the Snake River to se eit! Adventure PLUS!
Read More: 20 Things to do in Idaho for first time visitors
Akaka Falls, Big Island of Hawaii
The most visited and photographed waterfall in Hawaii is the Akaka Falls on the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s situated within the Akaka Falls state park and flows year round and has a secluded feel deep in a thick and lush tropical rainforest as it plunges 420 feet into a stream carved gorge.
There is a short loop trail that takes you to viewpoints and another waterfall, the 100-foot Kahuna Falls.
Morning is the best time to see it with the direct sunlight on it. In the afternoon, it is washed out.
Read More: 5 Day itinerary for the Big Island of Hawaii
Havasupai Falls, Arizona
While we have not yet visited Havasupai falls in Arizona, one look at the picture tells you why it would be one of the best waterfalls in the USA.
Not just for the beauty of the falls but the adventure in getting there via a 10-mile hike.
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.
It’s a USA adventure to remember.
The area is part of the Havasupai Indian Reservation and is managed by the tribe. The Havasupai people live near the Havasupai Falls in the Supai Village.
The only option to visit the falls is to book a 3-day permit. Permits for Havasupai sell out immediately, and can only be booked online. To get permits for 2020, create an account on the Havasupai Reservations website.
IF you’re looking for more adventures in Arizona check out this bucket list of 29 best things to do in Arizona!
Niagara Falls, New York State
The most well-known and possibly grandest waterfall in all of North America – and noted around the world, is Niagara Falls on the border of the USA and Canada.
You’ll hear it before you see it. About 758,000 gallons of water plunge over the falls every second, producing a roaring sound you’ll feel as well as hear.
Niagara Falls are actually three falls. Horseshoe, or Canadian, Falls are the uppermost waterfalls and are separated by the U.S. and Canadian. American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are on the U.S. side of the river downstream from Horseshoe Falls.
There are many things to do in Niagara Falls, including the very popular Maid of the Mist boat tour which takes you on a dramatic trip past the base of the American Falls, and onto the basin of Horseshoe Falls through the roiling waterfall whitewater and massive rock formations.
It is said the Canadian side is prettier, yet busier. Let me know what you think?
2 thoughts on “17 of the Best Waterfalls in the US”
Beautiful falls! If you ever get to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I bet you’d have a few to add! (Tahquamenon and Bond in particular and the hiking falls at Canyon, Black River, and Dead River.)
These sound like amazing waterfalls to visit in the US. Thanks so much for the tip! Michigan is a state we are looking forward to visiting.