It’s not easy to put together a Top 10 Best US Waterfalls List because it’s completely subjective and limited to each person’s experience with the falls being named. This list is based on our own personal experiences. At this point, we’ve sampled quite a variety of waterfalls through the United States so we believe that we’ve finally gotten to a point where we can consider this list mature. Nonetheless, we had a very difficult time trying to pick just 10 waterfalls of the USA out of the ones we’ve seen. We tried to balance numerous factors such as accessibility, allure, scenery, and longevity.
1. Niagara Falls ( New York)
The Granddaddy of the waterfalls in the United States, it easily surpasses all others in the country in terms of sheer power, size, popularity, and more. Shared between Western New York in the USA and Southeastern Ontario in Canada, bring your passport and experience this world famous attraction from both sides as well as the plethora of activities on offer here. We consider this waterfall to be one of the World’s Big Three so it easily occupies the top spot amongst America’s Top 10. If you could only see one waterfall in the country, besides crying, make sure not to miss this one!
2. Yosemite Falls (Yosemite National Park, California)
This 2425ft waterfall is one of the tallest in the world and widely considered the crown jewel of Yosemite National Park’s plethora of cliff-diving waterfalls. The falls is enjoyable from numerous spots where you can drive to as well as hike to. The only catch with this beauty is that it dries up by mid to late Summer as it runs through its massive winter snowpack very quickly thanks to its relatively bare, unforgiving granite drainage.
3. Lower Falls (Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming)
Including this over 300ft waterfall amongst America’s Top 10 was compulsory. After all, its impossibly-scenic location at the head of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River makes this the must-see attraction of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. That’s saying something considering the park is more famous for predictable geysers and an abundance of wildlife that some consider America’s version of the Serengeti.
4. Bridalveil Falls (Yosemite National Park, California)
While there are other similarly-sized waterfalls (or bigger) in the country, I’m partial to this 620ft year-rounder because its position frames Yosemite Valley (arguably the most beautiful valley in the world) opposite the imposing El Capitan. Ever heard of “The Gates of Yosemite Valley”? Indeed, this waterfall is part of the landscape imagery made famous by Ansel Adams and seen by just about every visitor thereafter (perhaps making it cliche to some). But on its own merits (ignoring the cliche aspect), there’s no question it’s one of the most beautifully situated waterfalls ever. Heck, the sight of the incomparable valley when we leave the Wawona Tunnel and head into the valley during spring still leaves a lump in my throat every time.
5. Multnomah Falls (Oregon)
One of the most iconic waterfalls in the US, this is the star attraction of the famous Columbia River Gorge, which itself boasts numerous waterfalls – many of which are serious waterfalls themselves. But this 620ft year-round waterfall with a concrete arched bridge over its lower drop as well as a historic lodge fronting it always draws millions of visitors each year.
6. Palouse Falls (LaCrosse, Washington)
Blasting our preconceived notions of the type of scenery we thought the state of Washington featured, this waterfall surprised us with its loud presence within a rugged and naturesque canyon that very much reminded us of kind of scenery we thought could be in Iceland. It was refreshing to see a waterfall like this in a setting that was left alone to let Nature decide how it should be seen and experienced, and thus deserved a spot on this list.
7. Havasu Falls (Havasupai Indian Reservation, Arizona)
Nestled deep in the remote Havasupai Indian Reservation (a side canyon of the world famous Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona), this special year-round waterfall is one of the most beautifully situated waterfalls in the country. Adding to its scenic allure are the blue-green waters of Havasu Creek, the travertine stalactites and dams surrounding the falls, and the red-rock scenery that makes the Grand Canyon possibly the nation’s most visited National Park.
8. Cumberland Falls (near Corbin, Kentucky)
They call this the Niagara of the South, and after seeing it for ourselves, we can totally see why! While this classically wide and rectangular waterfall is known for producing lunar rainbows (also known as moonbows), we were perfectly happy with the conventional rainbows arcing across its base during our visit. Adding to the already colorful scene were pretty Fall colors as well! And despite the park being completely free during our visit, the place still retained a rural countryside charm that seemed to be the norm in the South. Add it all up and now we can see what waterfallers in the South had known all along, and why no US top 10 list would be complete without it!
9. Alamere Falls (Point Reyes National Seashore, California)
Alamere Falls is a waterfall in Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California. Alamere Falls is a rare “tidefall”, a waterfall that flows directly into the ocean. It is one of only two in the area, the other being McWay Falls. After about a mile and a half, the trail will pass along two small lakes (Bass Lake and Pelican Lake). Bass Lake can be accessed by a side trail that leads to a rope swing, and hikers will often stop for a swim during summer months.
10. Grand Falls (Navajo Indian Reservation, Arizona)
Despite this waterfall’s short season, when it’s on, it’s one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the US. The muddy Little Colorado River spills over Grand Canyon-like cliffs as the stream meanders its way towards its bigger brother further to the west. Add to this the terraced layers leading to the three-step 181ft cumulative drop as well as a chocolate-like appearance that gained it a nickname of the “Chocolate Falls.” Add it all up, we have to believe this is one of the most unique waterfalls found anywhere and hence earns a spot on the list.