No matter what time of year, adventure is to be had! And one of the adventures we’ve never really delved into is waterfalls. There’s something about the thundering roar of water down a sheer face that relaxes you while at the same time heightens your senses. Across the globe there are an assortment of star-studded ones such as Angel Falls in Venezuela, the cascades at Plitvice Lakes National Park, Victoria Falls on the mighty Zambezi, and Sutherland Falls in New Zealand. Here’s our bucket list of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world – North America edition, that we want to experience in person. Of course, we’ve checked off a few of these already.
Bucket List of Best Waterfalls in North America
Mountain Biking & Waterfalling in one day
Lee Vining, California
We’re diehard skiers and snowboarders, so the idea of getting in some runs AND seeing a waterfall would be the best day for us. Start the morning out on the slopes at Mammoth Mountain, and once your legs are done for the day, take a short 40 minute drive over to Lundy Canyon. Technically not a waterfall itself, this region is filled with quite possibly the highest number of waterfalls all in one place. Besides a lot of waterfall “action”, you’ll be exposed to reflective ponds and an array of blooming wildflowers of all different colors. Overall, this might be the most compelling waterfalling experience you can have anywhere and well worth the travel.
Fun for all ages
Stewart Falls rates annually as one of the most popular hikes in Utah. Off the back side of Mt. Timpanogos, there are multiple scenic viewpoints of the two-tiered falls. The moderate four-mile round trip hike from Sundance Resort can be enjoyed by families of all ages. Starting in aspen groves, the trail meanders its way onto a ridgeline giving you fantastic glimpses of the falls. You then follow a steep trail down to the base of the falls. From there, you can hop right into the waterfall spray. A perfect way to cool off on a hot summer’s day.
Depot Creek Falls
Border Crossing & Adventure
Chilliwack, British Columbia
This might possibly be the most adventurous on the list. Why? Just to get to the trail head, you’ll need a 4WD truck to navigate the poorly maintained road for nearly ten miles. Once you hit the end of the road, you need to hike for another four to eight miles (depending on road conditions) which will include:
- Crossing the US/Canadian border (let the local Customs office know about this ahead of time)
- Fording the Custer Fork of Depot Creek
- Climbing up an 8 foot rock, with the aid of a rope, to get a vista of the falls
Once there, you’ll understand why all that hard work is worth it. At many points during the drop, the creek impacts the bedrock at such high angles it sends huge rooster tails exploding into the air, accompanied by clouds of mist as the water pounds its way down the mountainside.
Bridal Veil Falls
Tallest free-falling falls in Colorado
This is an iconic town not just for skiing but also for scenery AND outdoor adventure any time of year including something called Via Ferrata. Home to the tallest free-falling falls in Colorado, the region is steeped in mining history, and the structure perched atop the falls is a reminder of this era. Built in 1907 to supply power to the Smuggler Union mine and mill, the story goes that the original owner constructed the hydro-electric plant atop the falls so he could put a Swiss-chalet style summer home on top of it. Located at the end of the box canyon, if you hike up to the top overlooking Telluride, you’ll understand why he wanted to build his home there.
Niagara Of The West
Twin Falls, Idaho
The old saying, “You gotta see it to believe it” holds true for Shoshone Falls. This MASSIVE waterfall stands 212 feet in cascading beauty making it nearly 45 feet taller than Niagara Falls in upstate New York. The similarity to its cousin out east is that its rim is nearly 1,000 feet wide. To really see it in all its glory, you must visit in the spring. This is when the snow melt from the Grant Tetons produces nearly 10,000 to 12,000 cubic feet of water rushing over them per second. In the summer, while still beautiful, a portion of the waters are diverted to the farming region known as Magic Valley.
“8th Wonder Of The World”
Shasta County, California
Not the biggest, nor the largest waterfall but many including the late president Teddy Roosevelt consider it one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. Why? The way the water flows it looks the entire face of the canyon is a weeping wall. And once the water splashes into the pool below, its clarity is so pure that you can actually see the bubbles percolating back up to the surface. This California State Park is surrounded by mountain peaks and covered by black volcanic rock or basalt. Due to the layered porous basalt, it retains rainwater and snow melt forming a large underground reservoir. That water then emerges as springs at and above Burney Falls creating the weeping wall effect. There’s so much water that it flows at 100 million gallons every day ensuring that they flow all year long.
If you look up waterfalls in a dictionary, a picture of Yosemite National Park should be what you see. It literally stands head and shoulders above the rest. We could talk about the famous Yosemite Falls, but we’d rather highlight one that you haven’t heard of — Waterwheel Falls. This one on our hit list of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world is the most unique. When most of us think of waterfalls, we think of the classics… a cascade falling off a shelf of granite, but this one is different. Instead, the mighty Tuolumne River flows into a groove with so much velocity that the water gets thrown UP into the sky nearly 30 feet! This isn’t an easy one to get to either. Located in the Tuolumne Grand Canyon in the High Sierra, it requires a round-trip hike of nearly 20 miles on some very rough terrain.
Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia
Drama isn’t just for great television. These majestic falls are the epitome of the word. Plunging deep into a hollowed out chasm due to the sheer ferocity of the water, a picture doesn’t do it justice. You need to see Canada’s 4th tallest falls located deep in the Cariboo mountain range in action. Luckily, these are easily accessed mere steps from the road. Spring is a great time to visit for peak volume due to snowmelt, but its winter viewing is how it made it onto our list for one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. The raging torrent forms a snowcone that can grow as big as a 150 feet in height. Just imagine that! A sea of water flowing over a cliff surrounded by a frozen cone.
These are just a handful of the countless waterfalls in North America that you can enjoy. What is your favorite on the list? Are there any other ones that should be on here?
For more ideas on how to have fun from relaxing ideas like stargazing to adrenaline pumping experiences like Via Ferrata, check out our comprehensive guide: