Most people love waterfalls. It doesn’t matter if a waterfall is short or tall or is located in the forest or rocky terrain, people will travel to see waterfalls.
For one thing, their cascading water is beautiful — and somehow calming. There’s even science indicating that waterfalls give off positive energy that can relieve stress and depression while also boosting energy levels and happiness.
Picking a favorite waterfall isn’t easy because, well, they are all special. With that in mind, in no set order, here are seven stunning waterfalls in the U.S. that simply must be seen to be believed.
Yosemite National Park, California
Although Yosemite Falls has a staggering height of 2,425 feet, it actually consists of three waterfalls — Upper Yosemite Fall (1,430 feet), the middle cascades (675 feet), and Lower Yosemite Fall (320 feet), according to the National Park Service. Since the waterfall is fed by snowmelt, you’ll want to plan a visit for some time in the spring. That’s because Yosemite Falls reaches peak flow in May, but it slows to a trickle — and may even become dry — by August.
For more trip planning inspiration, be sure to check out all our Yosemite content here.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Before the Yellowstone River flows into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, it first plunges over the Upper Yellowstone Falls, which are 109 feet tall. Then, a quarter of a mile later, the river goes over the spectacular Lower Yellowstone Falls, which are 308 feet high — nearly twice as high as Niagara Falls. The river eventually enters the 1,000-foot-deep Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which simply must be seen to be believed.
Want to learn more about vacationing at Yellowstone National Park? You can see all our Yellowstone coverage here.
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Kentucky
Often called the Niagara of the South, Cumberland Falls is the largest waterfall in Kentucky. What’s amazing is that mist from the waterfall creates a rainbow-like “moonbow” that is only visible on a clear night when the moon is full or nearly full. Cumberland Falls is the only place in the Western Hemisphere where this phenomenon occurs.
For more information about things to do in Kentucky, check out this coverage.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
After about a 30-minute drive east from Portland, you’ll reach Multnomah Falls. At 611 feet tall, the falls are the tallest in Oregon. According to Native American lore, “Multnomah Falls was created to win the heart of a young princess who wanted a hidden place to bathe.”
For more information, be sure to read How To Visit Multnomah Falls In Oregon.
Akaka Falls State Park, Hawaii
This state park gets its name from Akaka Falls, a 442-foot waterfall that plunges into a stream-eroded gorge. You can only see the waterfall after taking a 0.4-mile self-guided hike from the parking lot, but the walk is worth it. Along the way, you’ll walk through lush tropical vegetation.
Want more on getting outdoors on the islands? Consider our picks for The Most Stunning Hikes In Hawaii.
Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina
With a height of 811 feet, Whitewater Falls is the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. The upper falls — 60 miles from downtown Asheville in the Nantahala National Forest — plunge 411 feet. The lower falls, across the state line in South Carolina, drop another 400 feet.
For more about the area, here’s all our North Carolina coverage.
Niagara Falls State Park, New York
No list of waterfalls can be complete without including the iconic Niagara Falls. As you may already know, there actually are three waterfalls that combine to form Niagara Falls. The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are on the U.S. side of the Niagara River, while Horseshoe Falls is on the Canadian side of the river. Together, they form the second largest waterfall in the world, with an astounding 3,160 tons of water plunging over the falls every second.
Want to learn more about Niagara Falls? Check out our Niagara Falls coverage for more information.