Best of the West

Rk Name Pic Description
1 Della Falls - Strathcona Provincial Park, Great Central Lake, BC Della Falls will always have a special place in my heart. It is where I proposed to my wonderful wife, Tara. It is also the tallest waterfall in Canada. It is incredibly pretty, falling from Della Lake above in three cascades. And it is a super experience just getting to the falls. Located in Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island, you need to take a boat across Great Central Lake near Port Alberni, just to get to the trailhead. Then it is a full days hike to get to the base of the falls, where you camp and enjoy the scenery. We went in early September, and the falls were still quite pretty. But they would be much more spectacular in late June or early July.
2 New York Canyon Falls - Foresthill, Tahoe National Forest, CA Determination. That is what you need (and a lot of it) if you wish to visit New York Canyon Falls, near Foresthill California. We would not recommend this hike (and scramble) for most people. New York Canyon Falls is located in a very remote and (almost) completely inaccessible canyon of the Royal Gorge of the North Fork of the American River. It involves a very long, difficult hike down to the river. Then a mad scramble up New York Creek to reach the waterfall. There are no trails to the waterfall. But for the determined, the rewards are unspeakable. In the spring, New York Canyon Falls is a glorious 462 ft. freefall and cascade, dropping along New York Creek, through a beautiful and rugged and very steep canyon. This waterfall is one of the most spectacular falls in Northern California.
3 Upper Yosemite Falls - Yosemite Village, Yosemite National Park, CA Upper Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park, California, is one of the most spectacular sights in all of the United States. In the summer, the water flow dwindles to almost nothing, but in the spring during snow melt, the waterfall is overwhelming. Upper Yosemite Falls can be seen along the roadside at a number of viewpoints along Southside Drive. The best ones are at Cooks Meadow and Swinging Bridge, and it also can be seen along the trail to Lower Yosemite Falls.
4 Havasu Falls - Supai, Havasupai Reservation, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ Havasu Falls is paradise on Earth. This is an absolutely amazingly beautiful waterfall located in a remote canyon of Arizona. It takes a good deal of effort to get there, but the reward is worth it. It was even more beautiful than we could have imagined (and we had seen plenty of pictures of the waterfall beforehand - hence the reason we wanted to go there in the first place). If you go to Havasu Falls, you will no doubt think you are somewhere in Hawaii. It is an oasis in arid Arizona.
5 Helmcken Falls - Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC Helmcken Falls is not the first waterfall I have seen, but it is the one that really got me interested, excited, and appreciative of the beauty of the waterfall. The hike is easy, but take lots of mosquito repellent. We were essentially eaten alive before we returned to our cars (we were there in July). Those suckers go right through clothing, and do not care a whole lot about repellent either. But even if this is your last hike and the mosquitoes do kill you, it is well worth the effort to see this magnificent waterfall. Its stunning power is just overwhelming. Of course, you can take the easy way out and drive to the viewpoint (if you want to live a little longer), but you get a closer and more inspiring view from the trail.
6 Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River - Yellowstone National Park, near Canyon, WY The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River is the most inspiring of the waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park. It is 308 ft. high, and thunders through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It is certainly a must see for all visitors to the park.
7 Vernal Falls - Yosemite Village, Yosemite National Park, CA Vernal Falls is one of my favourite waterfalls in Yosemite National Park. What I love so much about Vernal Falls is how smooth Merced River flows over the rock ledge, and yet the waterfall is 80 ft. wide. The waterfall is incredibly picturesque.
8 Feather Falls - Oroville, Feather Falls Scenic Area, Plumas National Forest, CA Feather Falls is one of my favourite hikes. I have been here many times now, in the spring when the falls is raging and at low flow in the fall. It is a spectacular waterfall, plunging 410 ft. along the Fall River. Feather Falls flows year-round, but is most impressive in April, when the snow is melting. Outside of Yosemite, this is one of the best waterfalls in California.
9 Nevada Falls - Yosemite Village, Yosemite National Park, CA If you continue up past Vernal Falls another couple miles, you will reach the top of spectacular Nevada Falls. It is a difficult hike to the top, but it is well worth the effort. These two waterfalls still have lots of water flow even in the summer, unlike others in the park.
10 Bridalveil Falls - Yosemite Village, Yosemite National Park, CA In the spring, Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite National Park, California, is incredibly powerful. Later in the summer, it is still great, but loses its grandeur after all the snow is melted. It is a short walk from the parking lot to the waterfalls viewpoint, and in the spring, you will get drenched for sure, even though you are still a few hundred yards away from the actual waterfall. Bridalveil Creek flows with remarkable force as you walk up to the viewpoint.
11 Abiqua Falls - Silverton, near Salem, Santiam State Forest, OR Abiqua Falls is certainly one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen. No words can describe such astounding beauty. I finally had a chance to get up to see this waterfall after it had been on my list for many years, and I was overwhelmed. A drop dead gorgeous plummet of 89 feet (measured) off a colorful basalt cliff into a glorious deep, green pool. And the surroundings? Glorious. It is located in a spectacular amphitheater, with magnificent columnar basalt, bright reddish colored lichen on the cliff walls. I have seen well over 600 hundred waterfalls in my long life but Abiqua Falls ranks very near the top of the list of the most beautiful falls I have seen.
12 Takakkaw Falls - Yoho National Park, near Field, BC Takakkaw Falls is the second highest waterfall in Canada. Takakkaw means "magnificent" in Cree. And it is. We love how the top of it "blasts" off a ledge and down over a thousand feet to finally hit the bottom. Very powerful. Obviously, this is popular with the tourists, so you will not be alone. But it did not seem really "too" busy when we were there, and you can essentially walk right up the embankment to the base of the falls (getting a bit wet in the process).
13 Wabena Falls - Foresthill, Tahoe National Forest, CA OK ... well ... umm ... what can I say about this one? Wabena Falls is yet another outstanding waterfall on the North Fork American River, plunging 65 ft. off a ledge into a lovely pool surrounded by steep cliffs. Its remoteness and beauty is unparalleled.
14 Mooney Falls - Supai, Havasupai Reservation, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ Mooney Falls is about 1 mile past Havasu Falls, just past the campground. It is a towering and breathtaking waterfall of about 200 ft. in height. There is a really nice view of the falls from the top, looking down on the enticing pool into which the waterfall drops. The fun part (and scary part) of this waterfall, though, is getting to its base. From the top of the falls, the trail continues down to a warning sign, indicating to proceed at your own risk, and not to try descending in inclement weather. From here, you have to squeeze through two narrow tunnels built into the cliff. When you emerge from the tunnels, you are looking straight down the cliff to the pool at the base of the falls, and wondering if you are crazy enough to proceed. It is a steep descent. But it is really not too difficult, unless you are scared of heights.
15 Palouse Falls - Washtucna, Palouse Falls State Park, WA Palouse Falls is the jewel of Eastern Washington, and only about a 2 hour drive or so from Spokane. It drops an astounding 186 ft. on the Palouse River, and flows fairly well year-round. In the spring, the river is raging with snow melt, and the waterfall is an absolutely incredible sight. In the winter, with snow and ice, it can be extraordinarily beautiful, and it still has very decent flow.
16 Lower Oneonta Falls - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Multnomah Falls, Oneonta Gorge, OR To get to Lower Oneonta Falls, you need to wade up the creek at Oneonta Gorge. This can be very tricky but is a total blast. In September, the water was up to my waist height, and up to my six year old sons chest height! It also requires negotiating a big huge log jam. Once you reach the Lower Oneonta Falls (only about a half-mile up the creek), you will be in paradise. It is such a beautiful waterfall in a very pristine location. It was easily my favorite waterfall I visited in the Columbia River Gorge.
17 White Cascade - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, CA White Cascade, aka Glen Aulin Falls, is the second of the major waterfalls on the Tuolumne River, and it is also my favorite, though it is not the biggest by any means. Located just a bit below Tuolumne Falls, White Cascade starts off as a steep cascade, then plunges off the bedrock for the last half of the waterfall into a large and inviting pool. It is very scenic and very pretty, yet also very powerful.
18 Proxy Falls - Sisters, Three Sisters Wilderness, Willamette National Forest, OR In the spring, Proxy Falls is absolutely dazzling. Although we knew it was a big one, 200 ft. high, we had never seen a very decent picture of the waterfall, and so we were surprised and awe-struck when we came to the superb viewpoint of the waterfall, where you can see the entire length of the falls coming down in two long cascades. Even more incredible than this, you can walk down to the base of the waterfall, scramble across Proxy Creek, and walk right up to and touch the falls. It is an amazing experience.
19 Canyon Creek Falls - Gold Run, CA There are many trails going down into the beautiful and scenic North Fork American River, some easier than others. The Canyon Creek Trail is one of the more strenuous trails into the North Fork, but it is also one of the best. Big waterfalls abound along Canyon Creek on the way to the river.
20 Heath Falls - Soda Springs, Heath Falls Overlook Trail, Tahoe National Forest, CA Heath Falls is the first of several waterfalls along the beautiful North Fork American River, near Soda Springs. It is an incredibly lovely 65 ft. plunge, nestled back in a scenic gorge. When the river is high in the spring, Heath Falls is spectacular. Later in the summer, the falls will still be worth making the long trek down to visit.
21 Waimoku Falls - Haleakala Natl. Park, near Kipahulu, Maui, Hana Rd., HI Waimoku Falls is easily the best waterfall we saw on Maui. It is a towering 400 ft. high waterfall, and the trail leads right up to the base of the falls. It is a very refreshing experience, especially if there is no one else at the falls (not likely though, unless you are an early bird).
22 Petroglyph Falls - Soda Springs, Tahoe National Forest, CA Petroglyph Falls, aka Scotts Drop, is the largest natural waterfall on the North Fork American River. It drops an amazing 80 ft. in two tiers along the river, in the heart of the stunningly beautiful Royal Gorge.
23 Latourell Falls - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Bridal Veil, Guy W. Talbot State Park, OR Latourell Falls is an exciting waterfall to see, as Latourell Creek plunges 214 ft. over a rocky cliff. From the parking area, you can either walk a short distance up the trail to a viewpoint. Or you can also walk about 0.1 miles to the base of the falls to get a close-up look.
24 Waterwheel Falls - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, CA Waterwheel Falls is the jewel of the Tuolumne River, cascading a magnificent 314 ft. in spectacular fashion, and complete with two incredible waterwheels. It is a very long hike out to see it but worth every effort. It is especially amazing if you can see it earlier in the spring when the river is flowing strong. The waterwheels are much more significant and impressive at high flows, not so interesting at lower flows.
25 Rancheria Falls - Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Yosemite National Park, CA Rancheria Falls is the jewel of Rancheria Creek at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, an amazing reward and 100 ft. cascade, seen after hiking 6.5 miles.
26 Wahclella Falls - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Bonneville, OR Wahclella Falls is one of the most awesome and striking waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, crashing in two tiers through a narrow channel (50 ft. and 80 ft.). Even in late summer, Tanner Creek has a lot of flow and the falls is still impressive.
27 Seven Falls - Oroville, Feather Falls Scenic Area, Plumas National Forest, CA Seven Falls, aka South Branch Falls, consists of a series of seven spectacular waterfalls along the South Branch Middle Fork of the Feather River, in Plumas National Forest. Each of the drops is at least 40 ft. high along a raging river in a narrow, steep, secluded canyon. The total height of all the waterfalls from highest to lowest point is around 600 ft. Getting to the waterfalls is difficult to say the least, and involves much scrambling along steep cliffs. But believe us, it is worth every effort to make the trip out to see these waterfalls. They are absolutely fantastic!
28 Grouse Falls - Foresthill, Tahoe National Forest, CA The trail to the Grouse Falls overlook is a very pleasant hike through a lovely forest, and is very easy going. In the spring, Grouse Falls is a powerful force dropping 504 ft. off a steep cliff into a deep canyon. Grouse Creek splits around a protruding rock, as it cascades down the cliff. At the bottom, Grouse Creek joins up with the South Branch Grouse Creek (where there is another waterfall), and rushes down stream where it joins up with the North Fork Middle Fork of the American River. The canyons in this area of the Sierra are stunningly beautiful, and difficult to get into as well. At the overlook, you are looking at the huge waterfall from a half-mile away, across a large canyon. Even from this distance, the waterfall is amazingly spectacular.
29 Opaekaa Falls - Kapa'a, Kauai, Wailua River State Park, HI 'Opaeka'a Falls is a pretty cascade about 150 ft. high, along 'Opaeka'a Stream, in Kapa'a on the east side of Kauai. 'Opaeka'a means "rolling shrimp" in Hawaiian. Apparently, in old days, shrimp could be found in the stream at the base of the falls. There is a developed, and popular tourist viewpoint along Kuamo'o Rd (Hwy 580).
30 Wilson Creek Falls - New Denver, Goat Range Provincial Park, BC Wilson Creek Falls in the New Denver / Nakusp area is most certainly one of the most spectacular waterfalls in British Columbia. Wilson Creek plummets a huge 207 ft. over a ledge, then continues its fast pace downstream towards Slocan Lake at New Denver.
31 Multnomah Falls - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Multnomah Falls, OR Multnomah Falls is, of course, THE place to stop for tourists in the Columbia River Gorge area in Oregon. It is awesome how this waterfall seems to "tower" over everything, a sight to see. However, you will not have this wonderful waterfall to yourself. Try to get there early in the morning to avoid the rush.  At around sunrise, there will probably be very few, if any, other people here, and it is a wonderful experience viewing this waterfall with no one else around. But at any other time of day, the hordes of people around the falls ruin the experience in my opinion.
32 Mossbrae Falls - Dunsmuir, CA Mossbrae Falls is a very unique waterfall. Only about 50 ft. high, but about 150 ft. wide. The water cascades from springs down the moss-covered canyon wall, and down into the Sacramento River, creating the effect of many waterfall streams falling into the river.
33 Stevenson Creek Falls - Shaver Lake, Sierra National Forest, CA Stevenson Creek Falls is almost certainly one of the most spectacular waterfalls outside of Yosemite in Central California, when it is flowing. It drops an amazing 950 ft. along Stevenson Creek into the San Joaquin River.
34 Wailua Falls - Lihue, Kauai, Wailua River State Park, HI Wailua Falls is the must-see waterfall to visit on the garden island of Kauai. Mainly, because it is the most easily accessible waterfall. Most of the many waterfalls on Kauai are either only accessible by helicopter or on private land (a big bummer), but this one in Wailua River State Park is very easy to see, well marked, and has a developed viewpoint.
35 Phantom Falls - Oroville, North Table Mountain Wildlife Area, CA Phantom Falls, aka Coal Canyon Falls, on North Table Mountain in Oroville is well named for two good reasons. First, it is on a small drainage, and will be dry in the summer months. Second, it is extremely well hidden, and there are no trails leading to it. But if you do find Phantom Falls, it is a beauty, dropping off a 166 ft. cliff. The view of Phantom Falls and Coal Canyon is spectacular, but it is best to come here in the winter months, after a lot of rain. But it is also well worth coming in the spring when the wildflowers on Table Mountain are out (and hopefully after some rain as well, so the falls will be flowing nicely).
36 Koosah Falls - Sisters, Willamette National Forest, OR The work "Koosah" is a Chinook word meaning "sky". Koosah Falls is a terrific waterfall appearing in two segments, dropping about 80 ft. along the McKenzie River. Earlier in the spring, these segments run together, so it is more of a single large waterfall.
37 Rainbow Falls - Mammoth Lakes, Devils Postpile National Monument, Inyo National Forest, CA Welcome to the best waterfall in the Eastern Sierra of California. No question about it. Rainbow Falls plunges 101 ft. off a cliff on the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. A magnificent sight indeed.
38 McWay Falls - Big Sur, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, CA McWay Falls is an incredibly scenic waterfall. McWay Creek drops 84 ft. off a cliff onto the beach nestled in a pretty little cove. The overlook view of the cove where the waterfall drops, is stunning to say the least. Unfortunately, you cannot get down onto the scenic beach (legally), as the cliffs are too crumbly and dangerous to descend (and if you try it, be prepared to receive a very hefty fine). I think, though, if it were possible to get down to the beach, this waterfall would lose something of its grandeur and mystique. The view is stunning, and the waterfall is alluring and out of reach. It adds to the beauty in my opinion.
39 Upper Mesa Falls - Ashton, Targhee National Forest, ID Upper Mesa Falls, aka Big Falls, is an absolutely awesome waterfall dropping about 114 ft. on the Henrys Fork of the Snake River. The power of the water falling here is great, and the width of the waterfall is 300 ft. wide; it reminds us of a small Niagara Falls.
40 Burney Falls - Burney, McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park, CA Burney Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in northern California and is very pretty. The best part about this waterfall, however, is that it flows year-round, one of the very few waterfalls in California that has good flow throughout the year. That is because the source of Burney Creek is from underground springs, located about a half mile or so above the falls. Indeed, if you look closely, you will see that much of the falls comes right out of the middle of the face of the cliff. So if you are in California and are anxious to see a waterfall and it is the middle of the winter, then Burney Falls is the one to see when all the others have long since stopped flowing.
41 Toketee Falls - Diamond Lake, Umpqua National Forest, OR Toketee Falls is the jewel of the Umpqua National Forest, plunging about 110 ft. in two tiers on the North Umpqua River. A very easy half mile hike leads to a viewing point of the falls. This is a must stop along Hwy 138. Toketee means graceful in Chinook language, and it certainly is.
42 Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River - Yellowstone National Park, near Canyon, WY The Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River crashes through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone a short distance upstream from the Lower Falls. At 109 ft. high, it is not as dramatic or inspiring as the Lower Falls, but is still nonetheless an incredible waterfall not to be missed.
43 Tsusiat Falls - West Coast Trail, BC The West Coast Trail is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, starting at Port Renfrew and going up to Bamfield. It is 75 km long, and takes about 5-6 days to hike this spectacular (and often rainy and muddy) route along the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island. You need to be in very good hiking shape for this one. What is really great about this waterfall, which falls onto the beach, is the pool that you can go swimming in. After 3 or 4 days of hard hiking, believe me, this is just what the doctor ordered.
44 Elowah Falls - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Bonneville, John B. Yeon State Park, OR Elowah Falls is somewhat similar in appearance to Latourell Falls. The hike begins along the Gorge Trail (#400). Keep left at the first junction, then left again at the second junction (in 0.2 miles). This short, not overly difficult hike will bring you to a bridge over McCord Creek right at the base of the falls, where you can watch the dramatic waterfall plunge 228 ft. right in front of you. If you go right at the second junction onto the Elowah Falls Trail, you will come to another great viewpoint of Elowah Falls, near the top of the waterfall. This Elowah Falls Trail also continues up to Upper McCord Creek Falls.
45 Horsetail Falls - Strawberry, Desolation Wilderness, Eldorado National Forest, CA You can see the impressive Horsetail Falls cascading down the mountain from busy Highway 50 on the way to South Lake Tahoe. But remember to keep your eyes on the road, or you will end up in the ditch. It is especially impressive in springtime during snow-melt. The first time we came was late in the year (August), and we thought the waterfall was great. We came back in the spring (June) and we were amazed. I had to up my ranking from 8 to 9. Wow!
46 Goddard Canyon Falls - Evolution Basin, Kings Canyon National Park, CA Goddard Canyon Falls is a magnificent 55 ft. drop on Goddard Canyon Creek in Kings Canyon National Park, one of three beautiful falls on this creek. It is a less traveled trail but well worth it.
47 White River Falls - Tygh Valley, White River Falls State Park, OR White River Falls is a magnificent waterfall on the White River in the Tygh Valley of Oregon. Together with Celestial Falls, it is a gem and a must see at any time of year.
48 Tamanawas Falls - Mount Hood, Mount Hood National Forest, OR Tamanawas Falls is a spectacular plunge of about 90 ft. near Mount Hood, in Oregon. It seems like the waterfall and hike is out in the middle of nowhere, yet this is a very popular trail.
49 Kada Falls - Hell Hole Reservoir, TahoeNational Forest, CA Kada Falls, aka Five Lakes Creek Falls, is a magnificent 70 ft. high cascade deep in the Tahoe Natl Forest at the end of Hell Hole Reservoir. It is an adventure to reach it, and well worth the effort.
50 Lower Canyon Creek Falls - Junction City, near Weaverville, Trinity Alps Wilderness, Trinity National Forest, CA Lower Canyon Creek Falls is by far the most spectacular of all the waterfalls on Canyon Creek in the Trinity Alps, and it is also the most difficult to get to and the least visited.