The legendary R&B group TLC once said “don’t go chasing waterfalls,” but we beg to differ (no disrespect, TLC). Waterfalls come in all shapes and sizes, and they're some of the most stunning natural formations in the world. They can occur all over the world when a river falls over a rock shelf or when melting ice forms seasonal flows. Some flow into a river, others a lake, and even others still directly into the ocean. We’ve compiled a list of eight of the most stunning and beautiful waterfalls across the United States -- and we included where to stay nearby.
1. Havasu Falls, Arizona
One of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country is also one of the hardest to get to. Havasu Falls, located within the Grand Canyon, requires a 10 mile hike each way, not to mention a reservation made ahead of time. The waterfall is located on the Havasupai Reservation in the bottom of the canyon, where the eponymous tribe has lived for hundreds of years — local tribespeople conduct the tours for visitors. When exploring the tribe’s ancestral grounds, travelers are expected to respect the land. If you stay in Flagstaff, the drive to the trailhead is about three-and-a-half hours (admittedly, it’s not that close, but we did warn you that this waterfall is hard to get to.)
A Value Hotel Pick:
2. Shoshone Falls, Idaho
Known as the “Niagara of the West,” Shoshone Falls is a 900-foot-wide and 212-foot-tall part of the Snake River, making it one of the largest in the country. The stream of the falls is created by seasonal runoff, so the best time to visit is during the spring. The Parks and Recreation department charges $3 per car between March 1st and September 30th, and season passes are available for $25. There are hiking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, swimming areas and scenic outlooks in the vicinity. The falls are a three hour drive from Salt Lake City.
A Luxury Hotel Pick:
3. Toketee Falls, Oregon
Over millennia, the North Umpqua River carved a gorge in a basalt lava flow, creating one of the most famous waterfalls in Oregon. The waterfall actually consists of two separate falls, a 28-foot drop flows into a pool, which continues into an 85-foot drop into a larger pool. Because most of the water flow of the river is diverted to a powerhouse, the flow of the fall is consistent all year. Toketee Falls is a little over two hours from Eugene, Oregon, and the one-third-mile trail makes it relatively easy to get to, which is why it is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Oregon.
A Boutique Hotel Pick:
4. Ruby Falls, Tennessee
If you’re not claustrophobic, you should plan your visit to Ruby Falls and the surrounding caves immediately. Discovered in 1928, the 145-foot-tall falls are located 1,120 feet below the surface of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Guided tours are available daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and lantern tours are available Fridays from January to mid-September, and during the month of November. Extended tours are available on select days each month. There are plenty of hotels in Chattanooga, and the falls are a 10-minute drive from the city center.
A Luxury Hotel Pick:
5. Calf Creek Falls, Utah
Part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Calf Creek Falls is an oasis among the Delaware-sized area of sandstone cliffs. Used as a natural pen in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the falls went unknown as a tourist attraction until Bill Clinton designated the area a national monument in 1996. Hikers will pass by beaver ponds and prehistoric rock art sites on their way to the falls. The lower falls, which are 130 feet tall, are the more famous of the two, while the upper falls is only 88 feet high. Both the falls have natural pools where it’s possible to swim when the crowds are small. The falls are an hour-and-a-half drive from Bryce, Utah.
A Kid-Friendly Hotel Pick:
6. Multonomah Falls, Oregon
The 620-foot drop of Multonomah Falls makes it one of the tallest in the United States, and it’s one that should not be missed. Steamboat tours of the Columbia River Gorge popularized the falls as an attraction. You’ll be able to see the entire falls from the viewing area carved out at the base, and for a closer look, you can climb to Benson Bridge, which spans the base of the top tier of the falls (there are two tiers). At the base of the falls is a lodge, restaurant, gift shop, and information booth. Visitors can make an easy day trip from Portland, which is only 30 miles away.
A Luxury Hotel Pick:
7. Olo‘upena Falls, Hawaii
Not only are the Olo‘upena Falls the tallest in the United States, they are unofficially considered the fourth tallest waterfall in the world. The falls are located on the northeastern part of Molokai, created by a seasonal stream that flows over one of the tallest seaside cliffs. Because of the location, the falls can only be seen from the ocean or air, so take advantage of the helicopter and boat tours of the island that leave from Maui, which will provide some amazing views.
An All-Inclusive Hotel Pick:
It wouldn’t be a complete list of the prettiest waterfalls in the United States without the most famous waterfall in the country. Niagara Fall State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S. and was established in 1885. It spans over 400 acres, 140 of which are underwater. The falls itself has 3,160 tons of water flowing over it every second, and it produces 4 million kilowatts of energy that is shared between the U.S. and Canada. Niagara Falls is actually made up of three separate falls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. The iconic Maid of the Mist ferry boat brings you right up the the basin of Horseshoe Falls, which is the largest of the three. The Cave of the Winds tour leads guests along wooden boardwalks up to the Hurricane Deck, which is just a few feet away from Bridal Veil Falls. There is also an aquarium, observation deck, and seasonal restaurant to complete your day at the falls. Plenty of hotels and resorts are within a mile of the falls, making it an easy tourist destination.
A Party Hotel Pick:
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