Waterfalls are one of Mother Nature’s gifts to the world, but photographs and videos don’t do their epic beauty justice. For that reason, planning a journey to see a cascade in person is a must-have point on every traveler’s bucket list. If you’re on a hunt for where to see beautiful waterfalls in the U.S., you’re in the right place. Below, we’ve outlined the top five travel destinations for unforgettable cascade viewing.
1. Portland, Oregon
The entire Pacific Northwest is known for its incredible natural beauty, but the Columbia River Gorge takes the top prize. Its near-constant rainfall provides some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the U.S. Fortunately, Portland, OR’s convenient location serves as a central hub for all the best options.
The most idyllic option is Multnomah Falls. The 620-foot double-drop waterfall is surrounded by a lush green landscape, which you can see up close and personal by taking the ¼ mile hike to Benson Bridge. Dating back to 1914, the footbridge is situated in the middle of the falls, offering the perfect spot for breathtaking views. While Multnomah Falls is located about 30 miles outside of Portland, the Columbia Gorge Express offers round-trip shuttles for under $10.
If you’re up for a challenge, the Oneonta Falls are the way to go. Located near Multnomah Falls, this hidden gem is in the Oneonta Gorge, and while the hike to reach the waterfall is short, it’s rough in spots and you’re definitely going to get wet. However, the journey is well worth the destination. Just remember to bring a waterproof camera.
2. Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls, NY, has become synonymous with waterfalls, attracting thousands of visitors from around the world every year. Niagara Falls State Park is home to three massive waterfalls: American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to get in the splash-zone of each.
One of the most popular spots is the Observation Tower, which offers next-level views of both the American and Horseshoe Falls. At the base of the overlook, take your adventure a step further with a journey on the Maid of the Mist. The boat ride offers unmatchable sights from below, allowing each visitor to take in the power of the falls.
For a truly unforgettable experience, hit the Cave of the Winds observation attraction. The wooden walkways bring you face to face with the Bridal Veil Falls. Don’t worry — all the wet gear is provided as part of the ticket fees.
3. Yosemite National Park, California
While it’s a popular destination for a variety of outdoor adventures, Yosemite National Park is also a place to see beautiful waterfalls. In fact, the park is home to over 25 waterfalls varying in size and power. One of the most notable is Yosemite Falls. Composed of three cascades, the attraction stretches over 2,400 breathtaking feet, and is viewable from the nearby trail.
You also won’t want to miss Horsetail Fall. Spanning a 1,000-foot drop, save this waterfall for sunset. The mountainside placement of the cascade causes an orangish-red reflection from the sunlight, creating the appearance of fire. Or, if you’re visiting in summer, hike to Bridalveil Fall. It’s one of the few waterfalls that run year-round, even during the hottest part of the season.
4. Corbin, Kentucky
The charming, quaint town of Corbin, KY, offers a welcoming vibe and laid-back attitude, but its real claim to fame is the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. The park is home to the mesmerizing Cumberland Falls, which is lovingly referred to as “Little Niagara.” While the waterfall is enough to take your breath away, viewing it at night during a full moon is life-changing. Cumberland Falls is the only cascade in the Western Hemisphere to produce a moonbow — a nighttime rainbow. The park even offers pet-friendly campgrounds and lodging on-site, so making the evening trek to catch a glimpse of the rare phenomena is quick and simple.
During your visit, be sure to check out Eagle Falls. Located north of Cumberland Falls in the park, the small cascade offers a serene, peaceful spot to view the beauty of Mother Nature. You need to hike the slightly rugged, 1.5-mile Eagle Falls Trail to get there, but the end result is incredibly satisfying.
5. Twin Falls, Idaho
While the city of Twin Falls, ID, is small in size, it offers a huge selection of waterfall viewing opportunities. The community’s name is actually derived from the Twin Falls cascades. While there are only one of the twins left, the powerful roar of the 125-foot waterfall is sure to leave an impression.
Twin Falls city is also the location of Shoshone Falls. Powered by the Snake River, these waterfalls actually offer a bigger drop than the Niagara Falls. You can catch a view from the observation deck above the cascades, or rent a kayak to enjoy the sights from the waterfront. Other impressive waterfalls to catch in the Snake River Canyon area include Auger Falls, Minnie Miller Springs, Perrine Coulee Falls, Pillar Falls, and Thousand Springs.
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