With more than 1,000 waterfalls to choose from, it’s difficult to narrow down to just five of the United States’ best hiking options, but these well-known landmarks offer amazing photo opportunities and invigorating hikes that make them the cream of the crop. On a hot summer day, nothing beats the cooling mist of a massive waterfall, and the views you are treated to the closer you get to its summit. Even winter waterfall hikes can be enjoyable, offering the opportunity to see a massive force of nature frozen in time. It is important that you plan ahead for a waterfall hiking trip, because waterfalls may dry up at certain times of year, or may even require reservations to visit. No matter the season or the location, make sure a waterfall hike makes it on your outdoor checklist!
California’s Yosemite Falls
Yosemite National Park is home to the country’s tallest waterfall, which actually consists of three falls. Most of its height comes from Upper Yosemite Fall, which spans 1,430 feet. Lower Yosemite measures 320 feet, while the middle section spans 675 feet. Together, they offer a 2,425-foot, vertical drop. Yosemite Falls usually flows from November to July, according to the U.S. National Park Service. It offers the best photos during the spring. Hikers can take an easy 1-mile trail to the base of Lower Yosemite. For a more challenging excursion, visitors can hike to the top of the falls. This 7.2-mile journey takes roughly six to eight hours.
Arizona’s Havasu Falls
Travelers can’t make a spur of the moment trip to the Grand Canyon’s Havasu Falls, which are part of the Havasupai Indian Reservation. The tribe limits the number of visitors and requires reservations. The scheduling and 10-mile hike, however, are worth the effort. While Havasu isn’t quite 100 feet high, visitors enjoy swimming in its vivid blue-green waters as they’re usually a balmy 70 degrees. People interested in hiking should visit from May to September. As a bonus, Havasu is near four other major waterfalls. This includes Mooney, Beaver, Navajo, New Navajo and Rock falls.
Oregon’s Punchbowl Falls
While only 30 feet tall, Punchbowl often shows up on postcards and calendars. Beginners and families will enjoy scenic Eagle Creek Trail, as well as the falls, during this 4-mile, roundtrip hike.
Colorado’s Seven Falls
Seven Falls is perfect for dedicated hikers traveling with less enthusiastic friends or family. It offers two moderately difficult trails accessed by a steep, 224-step stairway. Visitors who want the views without the hiking can take an elevator to the observation platform.
No list is complete without this landmark, whether you choose to view it from Niagara Falls, New York, or the city of the same name in Ontario. Immortalized in movies, Niagara is made up of three separate falls: Horseshoe, American and Bridal Veil falls. Hiking trails are available for all skill levels.