I think there is beauty in all waterfalls. Even small falls can be very
appealing and worth seeing. Nevertheless, when comparing waterfalls
to each other, the large and powerful will easily win out over the
small and dainty. Some waterfalls (even large ones) are disappointing
to see, especially if there is no good view of the falls.
Ranking waterfalls is highly subjective. What may rank as awesome and amazing to me
may be not so great to someone else. Others have tried to rank waterfalls using
highly detailed and complex formulas so you can compare waterfalls to each other and
determine more precisely if one is better than another, but this is still a subjective
task. I used to use a 10 point rating system on this site, but now have gone back to a five point
star rating system. I made this change for a variety of reasons, but I think I mainly
just want to portray a general feeling of how good or great a waterfall is.
|Best of the best, very awesome. |
|Very great |
|Very good |
|Okay, not bad, perhaps disappointing |
|These indicate how difficult it is to reach the waterfall.
If it is along the roadside, or is a short, fairly level hike, then it
is easy. Moderate and strenuous are more difficult, longer, hikes.
A very strenuous hike is only for insane people like myself.
||If you see the buy photo icon beside
a waterfall picture, this means the waterfall picture is
available for purchase as an enlarged print. Clicking
on the icon will transfer you to the gallery page for
the waterfall, where you can select your size and options
for purchasing the print.
|These indicate if the waterfall is along the roadside,
or if you have to hike to the falls, or backpack, or take a boat
to get to the falls. If the waterfall is roadside, there could
still be a short walk from the parking area to reach the viewpoint.
||This indicates if the waterfall is wheelchair accessible.
If you don't see this icon, then it is not wheelchair accessible
(as far as I can tell). Most roadside waterfalls would be wheelchair
accessible, but not all (there could be a short walk from the
parking area in order to get to the falls viewpoint).
||This indicates if you can ride a mountain bike
along the trail to get to the waterfall. If the trail is quite
difficult with lots of scrambling or very steep sections, then
I did not include the icon. Also, most trails in parks do not
allow bikes on trails.
|These indicate if dogs are allowed on the trail
to the waterfall or not. In the U.S., most national parks and
many state parks do not allow dogs on trails. This is a huge
peeve with me. Why shouldn't dogs be allowed on trails?
They don't mess up the trails more than humans do (less, actually).
In Canadian parks, dogs are pretty much allowed on all hiking
trails (all right!).
||Block - A wide waterfall, wider than it is tall.
||Cascade - Descends over a slope in a series of small steps, or along a rough sloping surface.
May be a gradual or steep descent.
||Curtain - A wide waterfall, taller than it is wide.
||Fan - The breadth of the water increases toward the bottom of the waterfall, so
it is much wider at the bottom.
||Horsetail - Waterfall maintains contact with the surface for most of its length.
May be a vertical or gradual descent.
||Plunge - Waterfall descends vertically, losing contact with the surface for
most of its length.
||Punchbowl - Narrow waterfall, shot outward into large pool.
||Segmented - Waterfall is broken up into two or more streams descending over the falls.
||Tiered - Waterfall consists of two or more distinct falls close together.
Due to their very nature, waterfalls can be located in very
dangerous places. Many people have died falling over the brink
of a waterfall, or scrambling on a steep cliff, slippery, or rocky
area to get a better view. Please be very careful when
visiting all waterfalls. I take no responsibility for any
trouble, injury, or death you or a loved one may experience
when visiting any waterfalls on my pages. I also take no
responsibility if you get lost following (or trying to follow)
my directions or
advice. Although I have done my best to provide accurate and
easy-to-follow directions, there could still possibly be errors on
some of my web pages.
Recommended Waterfall Books
California Waterfalls by
Ann Marie Brown - A must have book for waterfalls in the Golden State.
Excellent descriptions and directions. Lists all major falls in California,
and many obscure ones.
A Waterfall Lover's Guide
to the Pacific Northwest by Gregory Plumb. Covers waterfalls in Oregon,
Washington, and Idaho. The descriptions and details are on the shallow
side, but it does cover all major waterfalls in these states.
Hiking Yosemite National Park by
Suzanne Swedo. A Falcon Guide. This is probably the best of the hiking
books I have on Yosemite. It has descriptions to most of the waterfalls
in the park.
Exploring Wells Gray Park by
Roland Neave. An excellent resource and hiking book for Wells Gray Park
in B.C. It covers most waterfalls in the park, except ones that may be
The American River by
PARC (Protect American River Canyons). One of the best recreational
guide books I have ever read. Contains excellent hiking, rafting,
and historical information on the
North, Middle, and South forks of the American River. Mentions quite
a few popular and obscure waterfalls.
The Definitive Guide to Waterfalls
of Southern and Central California by
Chris Shaffer. A nice companion to Brown's book for southern
California. Lots of pictures.
The Guide to
Yellowstone Waterfalls and their Discovery by
Rubinstein, Whittlesey, and Stevens. The most complete
guide to Yellowstone waterfalls period. Many excellent photographs.
A History of the Falls by Pierre Berton.
An excellent book covering the history of Niagara Falls.