The Best Known Waterfalls in the USA

From the tallest waterfall in the United States to the most iconic, get ready to be wowed by the beauty of the best-known waterfalls in the USA.

Travel and Exploration
20 April 2023

Prepare to embark on a journey through the awe-inspiring beauty of America’s most captivating waterfalls, where nature’s magnificent displays of power and grace captivate the senses.

From towering walls of water plummeting hundreds of feet, to oceanswept cascades and picturesque plumes, the United States is home to a staggering array of waterfalls. While there’s seemingly no end to these fantastic falls, some stand out from the rest.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the USA’s best waterfalls and the unique features that make them so special. And we’re starting with the tallest waterfall in the United States.

The Tallest Waterfall in the United States

Yosemite Falls (Photo: Art Wolfe via Getty Images)

The tallest waterfall in the United States is usually said to be Yosemite Falls in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. Dropping a total of 2,425 feet in three tiers, this iconic cataract is at its mightiest in May, when snowmelt causes the water flow to increase dramatically.

However, there are those who point to different US waterfalls as larger than Yosemite. One such example is Colonial Creek Falls in Washington State. Some say this has a drop of over 2,500 feet, but its remote location and inaccessibility mean this has yet to be confirmed.

Niagara Falls | New York

When it comes to US waterfalls, they don’t get more famous than Niagara Falls. Indeed, the name of this US-Canadian giant has become so synonymous with waterfalls that it has become a noun meaning torrent or flood. What’s more, other waterfalls of America are commonly compared to it. For example, Bushkill Falls in the Poconos Mountains has been called the “Niagara of Pennsylvania,” while Idaho’s Shoshone Falls is termed the Niagara of the west.

Havasu Falls | Arizona

Beautiful Havasu Falls (Photo: LaserLens via Getty Images)

If one were to judge the USA’s best waterfalls by their Instagrammability, Havasu Falls would be a serious contender for the top spot. This frothy chute plunges some 100 feet over a sheer travertine cliff and into a tranquil pool below. The resulting image is a riot of reds and blues, all of them vivid and intense.

Multnomah Falls | Oregon

Multnomah Falls (Photo: © Allard Schager via Getty Images)

Not only is Multnomah Falls the tallest waterfall in Oregon, but it’s also said to be the most popular natural attraction in the Pacific Northwest. At 620 feet tall, the sheer scale of this grand cascade can be appreciated thanks to the viewing bridge between its two tiers, which offers a sense of perspective. Fed by a combination of snowmelt and rainwater, it’s at its peak power in the winter and spring.

Nugget Falls | Alaska

Nugget Falls (Photo: jewhyte via Getty Images)

While many of the USA’s best waterfalls either cascade or plunge, Alaska’s Nugget Falls take a different angle altogether. Located within the Tongass National Forest in Juneau, its milky blue waters thunder down 375 feet or so at a diagonal pitch, an unusual spectacle made all the more striking thanks to its expansive width of 90 feet. The waterfall is fed by the Nugget Glacier, which is part of the larger Mendenhall Glacier complex.

ʻAkaka Falls | Hawaii

'Akaka Falls (Photo: Gail Shotlander via Getty Images)

The islands of Hawaii are home to so many picturesque US waterfalls, it seems you could be driving down the road and just happen upon one. Like the dramatic duo known as Wailua Falls, visible from the roadside just North of Līhuʻe. However one of its most recognisable saults resides within the tropical forests of a state park named after it. ʻAkaka Falls is a single direct plunge of 442 feet enclosed by the mossy walls of its ravine. Nearby, Kahuna Falls drops about 100 feet.

McWay Falls | California

McWay Falls (Photo: Doug Meek via Getty Images)

McWay Falls is a picturesque waterfall located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur, California. The waterfall is unique in that it pours directly onto a sandy beach, before flowing into the Pacific Ocean. The falls drop about 80 feet and are surrounded by stunning coastal cliffs and verdant vegetation. The water from the falls is a deep turquoise colour, giving it an almost tropical feel.

Snoqualmie Falls | Washington

Snoqualmie Falls (Photo: Nathan Beier / 500px via Getty Images)

While they’re all natural wonders, many waterfalls in the USA also hold historical and cultural significance. About 30 miles east of Seattle, one finds an excellent example of one such cataract. Long considered a sacred site by the local Snoqualmie Tribe, the formidable Snoqualmie Falls is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Waterfalls of America

Snoqualmie Falls (Photo: chinaface via Getty Images)

Though we’ve reached the end of this list of the USA’s best waterfalls, it’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Whether beside a road, in a national park or in the most remote mountains, hidden or in plain sight, there are seemingly endless examples of wondrous waterfalls in the USA.

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