Beautiful waterfalls to add to your bucket list

Waterfalls truly are a sight to behold, and fortunately, they can be found in all 50 states. While some areas like the Pacific Northwest and the mid Atlantic are home to an incredible array of magnificent waterfalls, these gems of nature can be found just about anywhere. Whether tall or small, seeing a beautiful waterfall can do wonders to lower your stress level. Hiking to a waterfall is a wonderful weekend activity which will restore both your mind and body. Below are over 20 beautiful waterfalls to add to your must-see bucket list.

1. Multnomah Falls

  • Location: Columbia River Gorge of Oregon
  • Hike distance: 1.2 miles-out-and back, or view from base or observing bridge (easy 0.2 mile walk)
Multnomah Falls in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls is a 3 tiered waterfall with a total height of 635 feet. It is not only the tallest waterfall in Oregon, but also one of the tallest in the entire country. As a truly awe-inspiring sight, it comes at no surprise that over 2 million tourists from around the world flock here every year. With Oregon’s mild climate, there really is never a bad time to view this beauty. Not only is Multnomah the most impressive waterfall in the state, it’s also one of the most easily accessible. While the hike is a mere 1.2 miles, anyone not up for a workout can simply view from the observing platform.

2. Yellow Branch Falls

  • Location: Upstate South Carolina
  • Hike distance: 1.5 miles out-and-back
Beautiful Yellow Branch Falls in Upstate South Carolina

Yellow Branch is one of the most stunning of the dozens of incredible waterfalls scattered around Upstate South Carolina. While this waterfall only stands a mere 50 feet, the unique stepped design truly sets it apart from others in the vicinity. You will want to plan to visit this one after a major storm, as that is when this beauty truly comes alive. A mere 1.5 mile hike will lead you to this incredible wonder of nature. This trail is usually pretty secluded, and thus, hiking here makes for a perfect quiet weekend nature escape.

3. Shoshone Falls

  • Location: Southern Idaho
  • Hike distance: Just a quick 5 minute walk
Shoshone Falls in Southern Idaho

Shoshone, at a height of 212 feet and width of 1000, has been nicknamed “the Niagara of the West.” Anyone traveling near the Southwestern Idaho region will definitely want to plan for a little detour to see this natural wonder. Spring is the best time to visit as the water intensity is far stronger after the winter snow melts. The voluminous waterfall sits on the Snake River, just a few miles from the town of Twin Falls. While Shoshone is located in an isolated part of the state, it makes for an easy 2 hour daytrip from Boise, a wonderful vacation destination.

4. Kaaterskill Falls

  • Location: Upstate New York
  • Hike distance: 0.7 miles out-and-back
Kaaterskill Falls waterfall in Upstate New York

Upstate NY, nestled in the beautiful Catskills, is a world’s apart from the hustle and bustle of New York City. There are endless hiking trails in this region, the most impressive being a short trek to the state’s highest waterfall. At 260 feet, Kaaterskill stands strong as the tallest cascading falls in New York. Best of all, this two tiered beauty is easily accessible via a short hike of just over a half mile. Even better, for this hike, you actually get to take advantage of a 2-for-1 deal, as 70 foot Bastion Falls is also on the route.

5. Treasure Falls

  • Location: Pagosa Springs, Colorado
  • Hike distance: 0.5 miles out-and-back, Moderately steep
Treasure Falls waterfall in Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Treasure Falls is a dazzling waterfall with an interesting backstory. Local legend says that hidden treasures were buried in an unknown location near the waterfall, hence the unique name. This is one of the easier waterfall hikes in the gorgeous San Juan Wilderness. A short, yet steep 1/2 mile hike through the woods leads you to a gorgeous double tiered, 50 foot waterfall. After your hike, soothe your sore muscles in the natural mineral enriched healing waters at The Springs, the world’s deepest hot springs.

6. Catawba Falls

  • Location: Western North Carolina
  • Hike distance: 1.5 miles out-and-back
Beautiful fall foliage surrounding Catawba Falls in Western North Carolina

Catawba is a stunning 100 foot multi leveled waterfall located about 30 miles east of Asheville in the Pisgah National Forest. The 1.5 mile hike to the waterfall is moderately easy, a bit uphill in a few sections, but nothing regular walkers should find too difficult. This trail is always crowded, not only because of its’ immense beauty, but also because it is the closest waterfall near touristy Asheville. The hike to Catawba is especially beautiful during the autumn months when the forest is alive with brilliantly colored foliage.

7. Linville Falls

  • Location: Western North Carolina
  • Hike required: 1.5 mile loop
Gorgeous Linville Falls in Western North Carolina, off of the Blue Ridge Hwy

As one of the country’s most stunning drives, the Blue Ridge Parkway is well worth a cruise during the beautiful spring, summer, and fall seasons. The Parkway runs 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Smoky Mountains. Along the way lie many sights of interest including spectacular 90 foot Linville Falls in Western North Carolina. This natural wonder is easily accessed via a moderate 1.5 mile loop hike. As this waterfall is located within one of the state’s largest wilderness areas, the scenery surrounding the falls is just as mesmerizing as the falls themselves.

8. Horsetail Falls

  • Location: Columbia River Gorge of Oregon
  • Hike required: No (located roadside)
Horsetail Falls in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon

Horsetail Falls is a wonderful roadside waterfall, easily accessible as it is located right off the Columbia River Highway. This region is loaded with waterfalls, and thus, is appropriately nicknamed “Waterfall Corridor.” Horsetail is one of the best options for anyone seeking to enjoy a gorgeous waterfall without embarking on an arduous hike. The 176 foot waterfall makes quite the statement and truly is impressive considering no effort is required to see this beauty. The waterfall gets its’ name from its’ unique shape which resembles a horses’ tail.

9. Mesa Falls

  • Location: Southeastern Idaho
  • Hike required: Short stroll around a boardwalk trail
Mesa Falls in Southern Idaho

Mesa Falls is one of the most incredible wonders of Idaho, which is saying a lot considering the state is packed to the brim with amazing scenery. Both the Upper and Lower falls are accessible via a gorgeous 26 mile long scenic drive known as the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. The 65 foot Lower Falls and 110 foot, 200 foot wide Upper Falls are viewable via a short walk along a paved path. A pretty cool sight to behold as these falls are one of the few untouched still remaining.

10. King Creek Falls

  • Location: Upstate South Carolina
  • Hike required: 0.7 miles out-and-back
King Creek waterfall in Upstate South Carolina

King Creek is another Upstate SC beauty, this one located in the quiet Sumter National Forest. This one requires a moderate 30 minute hike to access the falls. The trek is very woodsy and quiet, so really it feels more like a nature break than an arduous workout. The 70 foot waterfall feels so much larger than it appears. This is a very photogenic waterfall, so don’t forget the camera!

11. Twin Falls

  • Location: Upstate South Carolina
  • Hike required: A simple quarter of a mile walk
Twin Falls in Upstate South Carolina

Another South Carolina beauty, Twin Falls is easily accessed via a simple 10 minute walk. This is one of the best waterfalls in the Upstate for those who do not want to go all out, but still want to see an incredible waterfall. The picture-perfect sight of 2 side by side waterfalls, one of them soaring 75 feet, makes this one of the most impressive sights in all of South Carolina. On a side note, black bears have been sighted, so do keep your distance.

12. Bridal Veil Falls

  • Location: Columbia River Gorge of Oregon
  • Hike required: 1/2 mile out-and-back
Bridal Veil Falls in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon

This creekside waterfall is well worth a visit if you are looking for a great daytrip from Portland. The hike to Bridal Veil is little more than a half mile long and worth every step for the attractive vista point of this 118 foot tall double tiered waterfall. This one is hard to leave as the nature itself surrounding the falls is so peaceful and rustic. Nature lovers will definitely want to place this one first on your Portland to-do list.

13. Hickory Nut Falls

  • Location: Chimney Rock State Park in Western North Carolina
  • Hike required: 1.4 mile loop
Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock State Park in Western North Carolina

Most tourists visit Chimney Rock State Park to climb the 499 steps up to the breathtaking outcropping overlook. Yes, the vistas of the Blue Ridge mountains from this viewpoint are truly amazing. However, you would be missing out if you did not also hike the short trail to see 404 foot Hickory Nut Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. This is an incredible waterfall which you can get really up close and personal to. Movie buffs will be especially interested to learn that it was featured in The Last of the Mohicans.

14. Triple Falls at Dupont State Forest

  • Location: Western North Carolina
  • Hike distance: 2 miles out-and-back
Triple Falls at Dupont State Forest in Western North Carolina

Hunger Games fans will want to take note. Triple Falls in Dupont State Forest was featured in the popular franchise. While this site draws lots of movie buffs, more importantly, this hike features 3 incredible waterfalls. A moderate hike will take you to a few of the best waterfalls in the Western North Carolina region. Triple and High Falls both stand tall at 125 feet, while Hooker Falls, at a mere 12 feet, makes up for what it lacks in height, with its’ tremendous volume.

15. Upper Emerald Pools

  • Location: Zion National Park
  • Hike required: 1.2 miles RT to Lower Pools, 2 miles RT to Middle Pools, 3 miles RT to Upper Pools
Upper Emerald Pools waterfall at Zion National Park in Utah

Zion is one of the country’s most amazing national parks. While Angel’s Landing gets much press for being one of America’s scariest hikes, there’s plenty of options for those not up for such a thrill. The hike to Emerald Pools is the perfect option for vacationers seeking a moderate challenge. On this hike, you will get to enjoy panoramas of the breathtaking rock formations, plus views of 3 natural pools.

Upper Emerald Pool requires a slightly more challenging trek, although the end result of a 100 foot waterfall emerging from the red rock cliffs, is quite incredible.

16. Niagara Falls

  • Location: Upstate New York
  • Ways to see the Falls: Observation tower at Prospect Point Park, Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist boat tour, Hiking at Niagara Falls State Park
Cave of the Winds at Niagara Falls

New York’s Niagara Falls is one of the most recognizable waterfalls in the world. Surprisingly, it is not one of the official wonders of the world. Nonetheless, it is often called one of the 8th world wonders. The combined 3 falls (American, Horseshoe & Bridal Veil) have the highest flow rate of any American waterfall. There are many ways to experience Niagara. Cave of the Winds is definitely the most fun experience for new visitors. You will get to don a poncho and sandals and enjoy an intense up close and personal experience – be aware – you will get soaked!

17. Whitewater Falls

  • Location: Western North Carolina
  • Hike required: About a quarter of a mile
Whitewater, the tallest waterfall in North Carolina

At 811 feet, Whitewater Falls stands magnificent as one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Rockies. The Upper half (located in NC) plunges 411 feet and the lower (located in SC) 400 feet, and together, they are a powerful force. The falls is located near the NC/SC border. A paved quarter of a mile trail to an observing area is located on the North Carolina side about an hour from Asheville. Although short, the trail is quite steep and consists of numerous staircases. If you are up for a workout, this is one of the most gorgeous waterfalls you will find in the Southeast!

18. Laurel Falls

  • Location: Smoky Mountains National Park (near Gatlinburg)
  • Hike required: 1.2 miles out-and-back
Laurel Falls in the Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Laurel Falls is one of the most popular trails in the Smokies. This is no surprise as it is easy to access, features an 80 foot waterfall, and requires no more than a moderate trek. The paved trail is a little over a mile each way and moderately steep. Many black bears call the Smokies home. In fact, the park is home to the densest concentration of bears anywhere – 2 black bears occupy every square mile! Keep in mind that this trail is a bear hotspot. While it’s an amazing experience to see a Black bear in its’ natural habitat, you need to keep your distance!

19. Tom’s Creek Falls

  • Location: Western North Carolina
  • Hike required: 0.5 miles out-and-back
Tom's Creek waterfall in Western North Carolina

Hidden in Western North Carolina in a secluded location, The Tom’s Creek waterfall is a must for anyone seeking blissful serenity. The hike to this waterfall is easy and relaxing – the perfect choice for casual walkers and families. It’s 60 feet tall and especially gorgeous after a big rainstorm, although worth visiting anytime of the year. This trail is most well-known for an old mica mine. Today, you can see beautiful mica embedded in the rocks. On a sunny day, the mica glistens like gemstones.

20. Chapman Falls

  • Location: East Haddam, Connecticut
  • Hike distance: A mere 5 minutes
Chapman Falls at Devil's Hopyard State Park in East Haddam, CT

Devil’s Hopyard State Park is a gorgeous isolated park in East Haddam, Connecticut. This part of the state is known for its’ many parks and beautiful fall foliage. This park remains surprisingly serene despite being home to a 60 foot waterfall and a covered bridge. Per local legend, the round holes near Chapman Falls are said to be a result of the devil hopping in the area, and hence, the park’s odd name. Do consider a hike after viewing the waterfall. Too many guests forget about the wonderful trail system here.

21. Long Creek Falls

  • Location: Blue Ridge, Georgia
  • Hike distance: 1 mile out-and-back
Long Creek falls along the Appalachian trail near Blue Ridge, Georgia

The full Appalachian trail runs over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine. Impressively, more than 20,000 people have completed a thru-hike since the trail opened back in 30’s. While completing the entire trail in one undertaking is quite a feat, most hikers choose to hike sections of the trail. One of the most beautiful starter hikes is the 2 mile journey to Long Creek Falls. Who knows? – after immersing yourself in the beauty of the Appalachian mountains, you may just decide to explore more.

22. Station Cove Falls

  • Location: Upstate South Carolina
  • Hike required: 0.7 miles out-and-back
The gorgeous Station Cove waterfall in Upstate South Carolina

An easy, short hike through a gorgeous Appalachian cove forest leads you to a wonderful peaceful waterfall called Station Cove. Because it is located in the middle of nowhere, this Upstate South Carolina gem sees much less traffic than more popular area waterfalls. This is especially the case during the colder fall and winter seasons, when you could find yourself enjoying the entire trail to yourself. Located in Sumter National Forest, 60 foot tall Station Falls is a definite contender for your Upstate bucket list.

23. Latourell Falls

  • Location: Columbia River Gorge of Oregon
  • Hike required: 2 mile loop
Latourell Falls near Portland, Oregon

Latourell Falls is definitely one of the most majestic waterfalls in all of Oregon. As the hike is relatively easy, and located within close proximity to Portland, this is a must add to your vacation itinerary. You can get right up close and personal to this stunning 225 foot single drop waterfall. This one is understandably always super crowded with tourists attempting to get that perfect photo. The total loop is just over 2 miles with a 500 foot elevation gain, and thus, a perfect option for most tourists.