One of the most unique waterfalls in the continental U.S. is located in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, just about 65 miles northeast of Redding, California. Here you’ll find what President Teddy Roosevelt once called the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” Burney Falls.
Burney Falls is fed by the confluence of Burney Creek and dozens of underground springs. Each day, 100 million gallons of water spill over the 129-foot-high falls — as well as from springs and aquifers hidden in the rock wall some ways down. The waters then flow and feed Lake Britton downstream.
The falls and the area around it were formed over a million years ago after sizable volcanic activity and erosion. Black volcanic rock covers the mountain peaks surrounding the region and creates the underground streams.
How To Find Burney Falls
From Redding, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is 65 miles east on Highway 299 and about six miles north on Highway 89, near Burney. There is an entrance fee of around $10 per vehicle. Parking is ample, but know that peak visiting season is April through October. Once you’re parked, the falls are just a short hike away — less than a half-mile downhill. Don’t miss the path to the pool, where you can get to the water’s edge. It never gets any warmer than 42 degrees.
In addition, there are 5 miles of trails that will wind you through the park’s lush evergreen forest, including a mile-long loop around the falls, which provides for new views and photography opportunities of the falls.
How To Photograph Burney Falls
If photos are your goal when visiting Burney Falls, come prepared to get wet. “The spray coming off the falls is pretty intense — make sure you have a towel available to wipe off the lens between your shots,” Photographer TJ Orton of The Outbound explains.
The times to capture the best images are sunrise, sunset, and at night. “For slow shutter shots you want less light so the falls aren’t blown out,” writes Orton. “Also adding a polarized filter to your lens will help the pictures turn out better.”
Once you’ve had your fill of the falls — and are in for quite the road trip — consider snagging an illusive permit to the Wave in Arizona. If you can land one, you’re in for a baffling sight. Here’s how to visit the Wave (and grab a perfect photo).
If you’re looking to stay in California, maybe the chilling ghost town of Bodie will strike your fancy.