sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Chasing Waterfalls – 9 Best Waterfalls in the USA

By Sandra Roussy February 07, 2024 Travel

The United States is graced with a breathtaking array of natural wonders, and among its most enchanting are the captivating waterfalls. From the iconic cascades of Niagara Falls, with its thundering torrents straddling the border between New York and Canada, to the pristine and turquoise waters of Havasu Falls nestled within the Grand Canyon’s depths, the country has an impressive collection of waterfalls that showcase the raw power and sublime beauty of nature.

Here are some of the best waterfalls in the USA:

  1. Niagara Falls (New York) – One of the most famous waterfalls in the world, Niagara Falls is located on the border between the United States and Canada.
  2. Yosemite Falls (California) – Yosemite National Park is home to the tallest waterfall in North America. Yosemite Falls is a stunning three-tiered waterfall that flows year-round.
  3. Multnomah Falls (Oregon) – Located in the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is a two-tiered waterfall surrounded by lush greenery.
  4. Havasu Falls (Arizona) – Situated in the Grand Canyon, Havasu Falls is known for its turquoise blue water and vibrant red rocks, creating a breathtaking contrast.
  5. Great Falls (Virginia/Maryland) – The Great Falls of the Potomac River, located just outside Washington, D.C., offer impressive cascades and rugged scenery.
  6. Ruby Falls (Tennessee) – Found within Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls is an underground waterfall and one of the tallest and deepest caves in the United States.
  7. Lower Yellowstone Falls (Wyoming/Montana) – Yellowstone National Park is home to Lower Yellowstone Falls, a powerful waterfall in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
  8. Shoshone Falls (Idaho) – Often referred to as the “Niagara of the West,” Shoshone Falls on the Snake River is even higher than Niagara Falls.
  9. Big Manitou Falls (Wisconsin) – Wisconsin’s tallest waterfall at around 165 feet, is located in Pattison State Park on the Black River.
  10. Bridalveil Fall (California) – Located in Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall is a classic waterfall that is easily accessible and provides breathtaking views.

These waterfalls show the diverse beauty found throughout the United States, from the majestic to the serene. Keep in mind that there are many more waterfalls worth exploring across the country.

Best Waterfalls in the USA

Niagara Falls, New York

Right on the border between the United States and Canada, the falls consist of three distinct sections: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Horseshoe Falls, the largest and most fascinating, forms a colossal crescent that stretches across the international boundary, with its mesmerizing cascade of water plunging dramatically into the frothy depths below. The sheer force of the falls generates a perpetual mist that hangs in the air, creating an ethereal atmosphere and often giving rise to rainbows that dance in the sunlight.

Canadian Niagara Falls; Horseshoe Falls

On the American side, the aptly named American Falls, characterized by its rugged and rocky descent, presents a powerful display of nature’s force. Adjacent to it, the more delicate Bridal Veil Falls adds a touch of elegance to the trio. Visitors to Niagara Falls are treated not only to a visual spectacle but also to the thunderous roar of millions of gallons of water plummeting over the precipice.

American Side of the Niagara Falls; American Falls and Bridal Veil Fall

The surrounding landscape, characterized by lush parklands and observation points, offers a panoramic view of this natural wonder, inviting awe-struck onlookers to marvel at the geological formation that is Niagara Falls – a timeless symbol of nature’s grandeur and beauty.

Yosemite Falls, California

Yosemite Falls, located in Yosemite National Park, is the tallest waterfall in North America. It showcases a stunning three-tiered design and flows consistently throughout the year. The waterfall is a year-round attraction, drawing visitors with its impressive size and natural beauty.

Yosemite Falls in Sierra Nevada. Largest fall in North America

The three segments of the falls – Upper Yosemite Fall, Middle Cascades, and Lower Yosemite Fall – create a mesmerizing display as the water descends, surrounded by the park’s picturesque landscapes. Unlike some waterfalls that vary with seasons, Yosemite Falls maintains its splendor, thanks to a steady supply of water from the melting snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Whether you visit in the frozen tranquility of winter or witness the full force of the cascading waters in spring, Yosemite Falls remains a captivating symbol of nature’s wonders, set against the backdrop of towering granite cliffs and lush greenery in Yosemite National Park.

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Multnomah Falls, situated in the Columbia River Gorge, is a beautiful two-tiered waterfall surrounded by lush greenery. The falls form a beautiful cascade, with the water gracefully descending from the cliff in two distinct tiers.

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

The setting is serene, with vibrant moss-covered rocks and towering evergreen trees framing the waterfall. A charming footbridge spans the lower tier, providing visitors with a closer view and a peaceful spot to appreciate the natural beauty.

Multnomah Falls is a tranquil escape into the heart of the Pacific Northwest, where the gentle flow of water meets the embrace of a verdant forest. It stands as a symbol of the region’s fascinating landscapes, inviting all who visit to experience the serene magic of nature.

Havasu Falls, Arizona

Havasu Falls, nestled in the Grand Canyon, is a stunning natural wonder known for its vibrant turquoise water against vivid red rocks. The stunning contrast between the blue waters and the warm-toned cliffs creates a visually captivating scene. This oasis in the heart of the Grand Canyon invites visitors to witness nature’s artistry, where the cool blue of the falls beautifully contrasts with the warm red hues of the canyon.

The beautiful setting of Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Found within the rugged terrain of the Havasupai Indian Reservation, reaching Havasu Falls adds an adventurous element to the experience. As the falls cascade gracefully, they form a refreshing pool at the base, surrounded by the iconic red cliffs of the canyon. The journey to Havasu Falls, coupled with the harmonious sounds of rushing water, offers a sensory and picturesque encounter with the extraordinary beauty hidden within the depths of the Grand Canyon. This natural masterpiece serves as a reminder of the stunning contrasts and timeless allure shaped by the forces of nature over millennia.

Great Falls, Virginia/Maryland

Close to Washington, D.C., the Great Falls of the Potomac River offers a scenic retreat from urban life. These falls showcase impressive cascades and rugged landscapes, drawing nature enthusiasts seeking a break from the city hustle.

Great Falls of the Potomac River

The Potomac River flows vigorously through rocky terrain, creating a dramatic display of natural beauty at the Great Falls. The rushing waters carve through the landscape, tumbling over rocky ledges and narrow channels. The surrounding parkland provides serene vantage points and hiking trails for visitors to explore, offering a chance to appreciate the untamed beauty of the Potomac River. The sounds of rushing water and the sight of foaming rapids create a soothing atmosphere, inviting you to unwind in the presence of nature.

Ruby Falls, Tennessee

Deep within Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls unveils a gorgeous secret – an underground waterfall residing in one of the United States’ tallest and deepest caves. Discovered in 1928, this subterranean wonder adds a touch of magic to Lookout Mountain’s geological wonders.

Ruby Falls – Illuminated View

Descending into the cave, visitors are treated to a journey through mesmerizing rock formations illuminated by gentle lights. The highlight of the expedition is the breathtaking Ruby Falls, gracefully cascading from the cave’s ceiling. The falls sparkle with vibrant hues, creating a spectacle that complements the limestone formations surrounding them.

Named for the radiant colors that adorn its surface, Ruby Falls is a testament to the hidden beauty beneath the Earth’s surface. The cave, known as Lookout Mountain Cave, further enhances the experience with its intricate stalactites and stalagmites, formed over countless centuries.

Guided tours not only show the geological marvels but also share the story of the cave’s discovery and its rich history. Ruby Falls invites adventurers to explore the mysteries beneath Lookout Mountain, offering a glimpse into the timeless allure of an underground waterfall and the hidden treasures within the Earth.

Lower Yellowstone Falls, Wyoming/Montana

In the heart of Yellowstone National Park lies Lower Yellowstone Falls, a powerful waterfall found within the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This stunning natural wonder is a focal point within the park, where the Yellowstone River dramatically plunges, showing the unbridled force of nature. Surrounded by towering cliffs and colorful canyon walls, the falls create a visually stunning scene.

Lower Yellowstone Falls at the Yellowstone national park.

Visitors can explore various viewpoints and hiking trails to witness Lower Yellowstone Falls from different angles. The mist rising from the falls adds a refreshing touch to the experience, enhancing the sensory allure of the surroundings. Whether observed from the canyon’s edge or the riverside trails, the falls provide a mesmerizing encounter with the untouched beauty of Yellowstone National Park.

Lower Yellowstone Falls serves as a testament to the park’s geological splendor, captivating those who venture to witness its impressive cascade. This natural spectacle stands as an iconic symbol within Yellowstone, inviting all to appreciate the power and majesty of nature in this remarkable corner of the wilderness.

Shoshone Falls, Idaho

Shoshone Falls, often called the “Niagara of the West,” is a stunning natural wonder on the Snake River in Twin Falls, Idaho. Surpassing the height of Niagara Falls, Shoshone Falls plunges dramatically into the canyon below, creating a breathtaking spectacle. The falls are most powerful in the spring and early summer when snowmelt from the surrounding mountains swells the Snake River.

Panoramic view of the Niagara of the West. Shoshone Falls, Idaho, USA

Visitors can enjoy not only the impressive falls but also the scenic beauty of the Snake River Canyon. The park surrounding the falls provides viewpoints and trails for diverse perspectives of this awe-inspiring natural display. On sunny days, the mist from the falls creates rainbows, adding an extra touch of enchantment.

While perhaps not as famous as Niagara Falls, Shoshone Falls stands as a hidden gem, showcasing the diverse and amazing landscapes found in the United States. It invites exploration and appreciation of the lesser-known wonders that grace the country, offering a powerful reminder of the natural beauty nestled in Idaho’s Snake River region.

Big Manitou Falls, Wisconsin

Big Manitou Falls is a notable natural attraction located on the Black River in Pattison State Park. It is the tallest waterfall in Wisconsin, at approximately 165 feet (50 meters). The falls are formed by the Black River as it cascades over layers of sandstone and basalt, creating a stunning landscape.

Big Manitou Falls, Wisconsin

Pattison State Park offers visitors a chance to explore the beauty of the surrounding nature. The park features hiking trails, camping facilities, and opportunities for bird watching and wildlife observation. The beautiful environment around the falls adds to the overall experience, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers.

The name “Manitou” is derived from the Algonquian word for spirit or deity, reflecting the spiritual significance that such natural wonders hold for indigenous cultures.

Bridalveil Fall, California

In Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall is a classic and easily accessible waterfall that provides stunning views. Fed by Bridalveil Creek, the waterfall drops gracefully from a height of 620 feet, creating a misty veil over the granite rocks. A short walk from the parking area leads to a viewpoint where you can enjoy the waterfall against the backdrop of Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite Bridalveil Fall, California

Bridalveil Fall is a popular destination due to its simplicity and beauty. The paved trail makes it accessible to people of all ages, offering a glimpse of Yosemite’s natural grandeur. The waterfall’s appearance changes with the seasons, with a powerful display in spring during increased snowmelt and a more subdued flow in other seasons, revealing the underlying rock formations.

This easily reached and charming waterfall invites visitors to experience the dynamic beauty of Yosemite National Park, providing a taste of the natural wonders that make this iconic destination a must-see for nature enthusiasts.

As we travel to witness the power of falling water, we encounter not just the sights and sounds but also the profound connection between water and rock that has shaped these landscapes over time. Whether it’s the tranquility of Bridalveil Fall or the might of Niagara, these waterfalls encourage us to pause, marvel, and recognize the enduring beauty nature has created across America. Each waterfall leaves a lasting impression, urging us to value and preserve these treasures for the enjoyment of future generations.



Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you been to any of these waterfalls? Are you planning a trip to witness nature’s beauty? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lynne Stevens

I also recommend a trip to visit the magnificent caves in the U.S. I did that several years ago, and it is fascinating as well.

The Author

Sandra is the middle-aged woman you hear about who sheds everything she owns and sets out into the world to rediscover and redefine herself. After more than twenty years spent in the fashion industry designing collections for brands such as La Senza, Victoria’s Secret, and JACOB Lingerie, she shifted her path and pursued her longtime passion for writing, traveling, and photography. Sandra was published in the NY Times best selling book Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It. A deeply personal essay hand-picked by Elizabeth Gilbert about loss, facing fears, and going after dreams. Visit her website:

You Might Also Like