Friday, September 30, 2022

15 Best Water falls in Washington State: All There is to Know About  

It’s easy to fall for the waterfalls in Washington State. As if the water gushing down the precipice wasn’t pretty enough to make you hike for miles, these waterfalls also relax the mind and heal the body. Their typical paradisal location and cooler ambiance make for a beautiful mini excursion, alone or with the entire family or a group. Whether you live in Washington or are here on a leisure trip, they have to be on your bucket list.

With around 100 waterfalls, mostly scattered across the western side, the Evergreen State has the maximum number of waterfalls for a state, followed by its neighbor Oregon. You can attribute it to the combination of hilly terrain in the northwest and heavy rainfall all year round. If the numbers overwhelm you, let’s narrow down your options to the top 15.

So, here’s your rundown.

15 Best Water falls in Washington State

1. Palouse Falls

Palouse Falls

  • Location: Palouse Falls Rd, LaCrosse, WA 99143, USA
  • County: Franklin / Whitman
  • Park: Palouse Falls State Park
  • Total height: About 200 feet (61 m)
  • Watercourse: Palouse River
  • Elevation: 8,123 feet (2,476 m)
  • Coordinates: 46°39′48.5″N 118°13′24.9″W
  • GNIS ID: 1510548
  • Phone Number: +1 509-646-9218
  • Alternate Name: Aput Aput

Imagine water gushing down a gorgeous 200-foot cliff into an extensive catch pool below. Add to it the rocky, semi-desert backdrop, and Palouse Falls comes across as one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the world, let alone in Washington State. Just stand and gaze at the majestic waterfall, you’ll realize the power of nature at its splendid best. The waterfall has withstood the test of time to stand tall as one of the select few surviving ice-age falls.

If that doesn’t make it special, then the status of the “State Waterfall of Washington” will.

History:

The fall and the gorge formation can be attributed to Missoula Floods in the Pleistocene epoch. The frequent floods and the resulting erosion are chiseled coulees, cataracts, catch pools, potholes, buttles, and other structures that define the area. If you get those Icelandic vibes when in the presence of this secluded waterfall, don’t be surprised. The Washington House of Representatives made it the official state waterfall through legislation In 2014.

How to Reach?

Upon reaching Walla Walla, head straight on HWY 125 for 4.8 kilometers. Next, turn left on the Harvey Shaw/ Lyons Ferry Road and drive for roughly 68 kilometers. Now, take HWY 261 for 8 kilometers to get on the Palouse Falls Road, which leads to the waterfall.

Best time to visit:

It’s gorgeous all year round but at its fullest potential in the spring when glaciers melt. Plan your visit for sunset when the golden sun rays engulf the surroundings to paint delightful scenery. If you can endure the chill, winter can be considered to witness the frozen fall.

Vantage Points

The eponymous state park, meant to retain this fall’s natural integrity, offers a few vantage points. The lower observation point is just a few steps away from the parking lot. No hike is needed. Feel free to place an easel or a DSLR to capture the wondrous sight accentuated by the constantly changing light. Want a closer look? Just hike down to the lower section of the fall. Beware, this one-mile trek is too dangerous and has accounted for several casualties.

Amenities:

The park caters to your comfort with vault toilets and ADA-friendly 11 campsites. A picnic shelter, featuring a massive table and covered and uncovered fire pits is also there. On the downside, water is available but only from April through October.

Activities:

Palouse Falls State Park keeps a steady stream of tent campers in spring. The scope for family and group picnics and birding is also there. Note that, in wake of the pandemic, the park administration discourages camping, overnight parking, nighttime photography, and picnicking. Also, entry to the Castle Rock Formation, the catch pool and the trail leading to it is prohibited. So, check out the applicable restrictions before planning the trip. Also, plenty of panels detailing the history of the falls provide some interpretive opportunities.

Tips:

  • Attempt the hike only if you are adept at hiking. It’s short but challenging and at times, dangerous. Wear proper hiking gear, especially spikes for better traction.
  • Crowds can be troublesome on a high visitation day. In that case, visit Lyons Ferry State Park for some stunning vistas and recreational options. It’s just 7 miles away.
  • The waterfall’s remote location demands you to carry food, water, energy drinks, toilet paper and other supplies.
  • Only 11 campgrounds are available first come, first serve. So, reserve your spot early to avoid any disappointment. If full, try other camping sites nearby including Starbuck / Lyons Ferry Marina KOA, Tucannon River RV Park, Little Goose Landing, Texas Rapids Recreation Area, and Lewis and Clark Trail State Park.
  • Take your pets along but on a leash. However, they aren’t allowed in the swimming areas.
  • The area is infested by snakes. So, stay alert.

The Trail at a Glance:

  • Distance: 1 mile, roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 803 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty Level: Hard
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes
  • Best Season: All Year Long

2. Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls

  • Location: 6501 Railroad Avenue SE, Snoqualmie, WA 98065
  • Type: Curtain
  • Watercourse: Snoqualmie River
  • Total Height: 259 feet (79 m)
  • Average width: 100 feet (30 m)
  • Coordinates: 47°32′29.4″N 121°50′14.3″W
  • GNIS ID: 1526015
  • Recommended Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Admission Fee: Free
  • Amenities: Picnic spots, restrooms, espresso stand
  • Phone: (425) 985-6906

Looking for waterfalls near Seattle? Well, all roads lead to Snoqualmie Falls. Head 30 miles from Seattle to Snoqualmie to witness this natural wonder unfolding in all its glory. The sight of the water gushing down from a staggering 270 feet would leave you speechless before turning you into a storyteller. The surrounding greenery and a harmonious burbling are just a bonus for weary minds. It might not be the official state waterfall but it’s the most frequented one in Washington, attracting over 1.5 million visitors yearly. Attribute the popularity partly to “Twin Peaks,” a popular show that featured it in the starting credits.

How to reach?

Reach Redmond and head east on the 202 HWY to get to Fall City. From there, go past the Snoqualmie River and take the 202 HWY to get to the Snoqualmie Falls parking lot. You can board the 554 bus on the Sound Transit’s Route in downtown Seattle. It will transport you to the Issaquah Transfer Center where you need to take the Metro’s Route 209 bus that will drop you at North Bend, just steps away from the fall. Fare: $3 to $7 (both ways).

What to do?

  • Incorporate an easy 1.5-mile hike into your trip for a deeper exploration of the area. The interpretive displays on the trail inform you about the history of falls and the native tribes. The John Wayne Trail is conducive to biking during spring and summer.
  • If you plan a night’s stay, the Salish Lodge is just nearby, offering gourmet meals, a spa, 4-star accommodation, valet parking and some amazing views.
  • Wish to get married at an off-beat spot? Don’t look beyond the grounds above the Snoqualmie Falls.
  • Visit the Snoqualmie Depot to access the historic coach train that runs through lush woodlands and offers startling views of the fall and the power plant.
  • Skiing on the slopes of Snoqualmie is possible, should you visit in winter.
  • A 4-mile raft on the Snoqualmie River can be considered as well.
  • Try your wagering skills at the nearby Snoqualmie Casino, open 24/7/365.

Tours from Seattle:

  • Snoqualmie Falls and Seattle Winery Tour (100$)
  • Snoqualmie Falls and Seattle City Tour (75$)

Best time to visit:

Spring is the best time, thanks to a strong flow and the native flora and fauna coming to life. However, if you yearn for a brilliant foliage show, plan a visit in the fall. Regardless of the season, ensure to stay after dusk when the waterfall is illuminated with cleverly placed lighting. Seeing this natural splendor in a “different light” is an unforgettable experience. Avoid heavy visitation days. Instead, reach early on weekdays to enjoy a more private hike.

Vantage Points:

Get down from the car and stroll to the two universally accessible observation points. The hassle of hiking is eliminated outright. The interpretive trail leading to the fall also affords some stunning views. Want to witness the torrent crashing into the catch pool below? Walk a few meters down to get to the lower section of the waterfall. The views are worth the extra effort.

Tips:

  • It could be a perfect jumping-off point if you desire to cover multiple falls in a day.
  • Visit the local gift shop for some keepsakes, snacks, drinks and more.
  • Look for parking across the street, if the parking lot is full or you wish to escape the parking charges.
  • Enjoy the waterfall from a safe distance, especially during high water. Maintain caution while hopping onto the boulders to get a closer look at the fall.
  • Purchase the train tickets well in advance to avoid disappointment. Since the schedule is subject to the season, check it before booking.

The Trail at a Glance:

  • Distance: 1.4 miles, round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 250 ft.
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Best Season: All Year Long

3. Spray Falls

Spray Falls

  • County: Pierce County
  • Park: Mount Rainier National Park
  • Coordinates: 46°54′56″N 121°50′32″W
  • GNIS ID: 1508617
  • USGS Map: Mowich Lake 7 1/2″
  • Type: Veiling Horsetail
  • Total Height: 354 feet (108 m)
  • Tallest Drop: 354 feet
  • Number of Drops: 1
  • Average width: 100 feet (30 m)
  • Watercourse: Spray Creek
  • Pitch: 75 degrees
  • Run: 180 feet
  • Avg. Volume: 20.0 cu ft/sec
  • Parking Pass: National Park Pass

The feeling of being belittled by nature creeps in when you stand in the presence of a 354 feet tall and 100 feet wide fall. Apart from the sheer grandeur, the twisted shape mimicking a bent funnel and stunning mountain views make Spray Falls one of the coveted waterfalls in Washington State. The water fans out at the fag-end of the drop to create an enticing veiling horsetail shape. A significant volume of water thundering down from an impressive height sends out clouds of mist that engulfs the ambiance, furthering its charm. The loud thud penetrating the calm wilderness is icing on the cake for an avid waterfall chaser.

The Hike:

Just help yourself to a 5.6-mile moderately challenging Spray Park Trail that initiates from the confines of Mount Rainier National Park. The trail is easy for the most part but features some steep inclines that might be hard to navigate for some. Be ready to be blown off your feet by the stunning landscapes, misty ambiance and lush greenery as you move ahead. A spectacular foliage show is on display should you visit in the fall. Mind you, you’ll be paying an entry fee to get into the national park. Feel free to buy your supplies at the park before heading on the hike.

How to Reach?

Take the SR 410 and head east towards Buckley and then hop on to the SR 165 to get to Burnett and Wilkeson. Next, get past the bridge over the Carbon River to get to Y-junction. From there, head right for about 28 km until you reach Mowich Lake. There onwards follow the Spray Park Trail that leads to the destination. Mind you, it might be bumpy after it rains.

Vantage Points:

The trail runs through Eagle’s Cliff, which is a major vantage point for some mesmerizing views of the fall. But if the mist prevents a clear view, navigate the huge rocks to get closer.

What to do?

  • Feel free to extend your hike to Mount Rainier. The views at the top are marvelous, making up for all the trouble.
  • Although the park lacks any defined biking trails, you can still bike your way into it. Only single-file biking is allowed. Also, adhere to the related rules and regulations.
  • Multiple picnic spots across the trail translate into plenty of options for some quality time with friends and family.
  • If Spray Falls fails to live up to your expectations, explore some impressive waterfalls in the vicinity, including Grant Creek Falls (0.16 miles), Tillicum Point Falls (0.37 miles), South Spray Park Falls (0.44 miles), Beanstalk Falls (0.65 miles), Giant Falls (1.01 miles), and more. Spray Falls can be the jumping-off point for all these.
  • The waterfall hike provides an excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with the flora and fauna. Depending on the hike you take, expect to see saxifrage, coral root, bunchberry, candy flower, false bugbane, twinflower, and more.

Tips:

  • Carry trekking poles and windcheaters for a safe and enjoyable hike. Consider water shoes, as you require crossing the river to get a view of the fall. Dress to the season.
  • Enjoy from a safe distance during the wet season when the flow can be dramatic.
  • Don’t bring your canine friends along. They aren’t allowed on the trailhead.
  • Stay aware, as you are at risk of running into bears and snakes.

4. Spokane Falls, Spokane

Spokane Falls, Spokane

  • Location: Spokane, Washington, United States
  • Park: Spokane Riverfront Park
  • Coordinates: 47°39’40.93″N, 117°25’32.34″W
  • Elevation: 1771 feet
  • USGS Map: Spokane NW 7 1/2″
  • Watercourse: Spokane River
  • Type: Gradual Cascade
  • Number of Falls: 02

Feast your eyes on one of the biggest urban waterfalls in Washington state or for that matter the USA, Spokane Falls. Nestled in the heart of an eponymous riverfront park on an eponymous river, Spokane Falls are a series of two wonderful falls, Lower and Upper. Both support hydroelectricity diversion dams, together they provide visitors with respite from the hustle of Spokane City right within it. Canada Island acts as a diversion for the Spokane River, splitting it into two streams that drop over a precipice to form Upper Falls. The water later forces itself into a tapered chute cascading down multiple steps, resulting in Lower Falls.

History:

The area housing Spokane Falls has a long, prolific history dating back to centuries. The native cultures gathered here for yearly celebrations, ceremonies, games, salmon fishing, and more. The tradition continues to date with the Gathering at the Falls Powwow. By the 1880s, the diversion dams surfaced for hydroelectricity production. Soon industry moved in, making the city a manufacturing, trade and commerce hub. As a side note, the city was previously named Spokane Falls. The natives referred to them as “Stluputqu”, meaning “swift water”.

When to Visit?

Regardless of the season, these falls look gorgeous. But spring brings out the best of them with higher volumes of water fed by melting glaciers.

The Hike:

They are a stone’s throw away from each other, involving an easy one-mile round trip, accomplishable in a few minutes. Expect to meet shutterbugs and painters along the way.

Vantage Points:

Spoiling you for choice, both falls offer some fine viewpoints for you to savor their beauty. The pedestrian bridge close to Riverfront’s pavilion is perhaps the best vantage point for Upper Falls. Just cross over to Huntington Park for some great views of the Lower Falls. Other vantage points include A Place of Truths plaza, Numerica SkyRide and more.

What to do?

  • Emanating from the riverfront park, the 33-mile Spokane River Centennial National Recreational Trail provides great opportunities for biking and roller skis amidst some scenic views.
  • Explore the history of the region at the Mobius Science Center housed in the historic Washington Water Power building that also offers views of the falls, dam and power station.
  • Bask in the beauty of the riverfront park and check out some exciting venues like Clock Tower, Looff Carousel, Numerica Skating Ribbon, and Providence Playscape.
  • The park bears an array of displays offering interpretive information. Read them to stay informed.
  • Hop into the Numerica SkyRide for a gondola-style cable ride over the Lower Falls.
  • If tent camping is desired, head to the Bowl & Pitcher Area in the Riverside State Park.

5. Panther Creek Falls, Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Panther Creek Falls, Gifford Pinchot National Forest

  • Location: Near Big Lava Bed, northeast of Carson
  • County: Skamania County
  • Coordinates: 45°52′2.4″N 121°49′39.2″W
  • USGS Map: Panther Creek Campground
  • GNIS ID: 1529310
  • Elevation: 906 feet (276 m)
  • Total Height: 136 feet
  • Tallest Drop: 102 feet
  • Number of Drops: 03
  • Avg. Width: 100 feet
  • Magnitude: 59.78
  • Type: Tiered Horsetails
  • Watercourse: Panther Creek
  • Flow Consistency: 12 months

It’s hard to describe the complexity, eclecticism and grandeur of Panther Creek Falls. See it to believe it. Imagine Panther Creek splitting into two with the major stream turning sharply to the right to get to a trough before making a glorious horsetail-shaped drop. The smaller stream, on the other hand, takes an early plunge at the blend. The first tier of 102 feet (31 meters) is visible in the major stream, followed by a 30 feet plunge. Both streams reunite and the river continues to flow. The woodsy environment in the backdrop accentuates the drops, making Panther Creek Falls one of the leading waterfalls in Washington state.

How to Reach?

Reach Carson and drive north on the Wind River Highway for 9.3 kilometers and turn right to take the Old State Road. Take right and then head left on Panther Creek Road. It merges into NF-65, a single-lane forest road. Travel for about 12 kilometers to get to the Panther Creek Falls parking. The trailhead falls on the opposite side of the road.

Vantage Points:

Until 2018. a strategically-placed viewing deck existed for the best views of the Upper Falls. However, a fatality forced the dismantling of the deck and rerouting of the trail. The new platform is fenced and at a safe distance from the cliff edge, near the lower section of the Upper Falls. The new location compromises the views to an extent. The lower section of the Lower Fall is accessible via a small hike downwards from the new viewpoint.

What to do?

  • The area is replete with stone picnic shelters (2), group area (1), Vault Toilet (1), parking (1), and picnic sites (10). So, a picnic should always be on your bucket list.
  • Consider visiting a bevy of waterfalls within 3 miles of Panther Creek Falls, such as Lower Big Huckleberry Creek Falls (0.39 miles), Middle Big Huckleberry Creek Falls (0.77 miles), Big Huckleberry Creek Falls (0.92 miles), Tenmile Creek Falls (1.44 miles), Lower Eightmile Creek Falls (3.35 miles), Middle Eightmile Creek Falls (3.38 miles), Upper Ninemile Creek Falls (3.55 miles), Eightmile Creek Falls (3.65 miles), Upper Eightmile Creek Falls (3.67 miles), Middle Ninemile Creek Falls (3.78 miles)

Tips:

  • Don’t venture outside the fenced area. The moss and other flora have been hit by heavy footfall. Your decision to stay away will allow the flora to recover quickly.
  • Since you are traveling into the wilderness, bring food and water along.

6. Wallace Falls

Wallace Falls

  • Park: Wallace Falls State Park
  • Coordinates: 47°52′23.4″N 121°38′56.4″W
  • Elevation: 5,545 feet (1,690 m)
  • GNIS ID: 1527774
  • Total Height: 392 feet
  • Tallest Drop: 265 feet
  • Number of Drops: 4
  • Avg. Width: 30 feet
  • Pitch: 81 degrees
  • Run: 300 feet
  • Form: Tiered Plunges
  • Watercourse: Wallace River
  • Avg. Volume: 150.0 cu ft/sec
  • Magnitude: 68.25

Think of Wallace Falls as a jackpot for waterfall chasers. Four stunning falls with varying heights, forms, and dispositions lay hidden amidst wilderness on Wallace River’s 300 feet run across the Wallace State Park. The river plunges down an aggregate height of 392 feet in four distinct tiers, creating a majestic tiered plunge. The first 265-foot plunge represents the tallest and the most enigmatic drop, which crashes into a massive plunge pool below. Moving ahead, the gorge channelizes the stream into a narrow 75 feet drop. Nestled deep within a rocky ravine, the two subsequent drops are obscured from view. Several cascades surface between the tiers, accounting for the total height and additional scenic views.

Vantage Points:

While the lower two tiers stay obscured from any designated viewpoints, the initial plunge is visible from Highway 2. If hiking isn’t your cup of tea, this could be a godsend. Just as the gradient steepens, stunning views of the middle fall are visible. The best view, however, is available from the top of the falls, accessible upon a 2.8 miles moderately challenging hike.

When to Visit?

Unlike most waterfalls in Washington State, Wallace Falls isn’t fed by glaciers or lakes. The volume, hence, plummets in the dry season, transforming the stream into a trickle. The fall comes into its own in the wet season, being fed solely by rains. If keen on some privacy, visit early on weekdays. Weekends attract crowds, leading to the trail being congested.

How to Reach?

Head on Highway 2 towards Gold Bar until you spot the “Wallace Falls State Park” sign. Here, drive north for about 3 kilometers to reach the trailhead. It’s just under an hour’s drive from Seattle.

The Hike:

The 5.6-mile roundtrip waterfall hike leads you to the top of the falls with a total elevation gain of 1300 feet. It’s moderately challenging, asking you to negotiate multiple 180 degrees bends towards the trail’s end. The trail splits at the threshold of the forested area. Head left for two and a half miles to access a viewing deck for the lower section of the waterfall. And, if you move right, the vantage point is about one and a half miles ahead.

Just as the trail takes you to the lower falls, both routes merge. Continue hiking for one-third of a mile to experience the mist and water spray emanating from the falls. The last quarter of a mile hike will get you to the top. The vistas are worth the ordeal. On your way up, you’ll cross the Skykomish River valley, which offers some awe-inspiring vistas.

The Trail at a Glance:

  • Length: 5.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,200 ft.
  • Best Time: Spring – Fall
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

What to do?

  • You have over 10 more trails to explore in Wallace Falls State Park, other than the Wallace Falls Trail. Regardless of your experience, skill level or hiking goals, the trails keep you covered.
  • Consider exploring multiple other waterfalls within 3 miles distance, such as Lower Stickney Ridge Falls (1.58 miles), Stickney Ridge Falls (1.67 miles), May Creek Falls (1.79 miles), Isabel Falls (2.27 miles), Little Olney Falls (2.89 miles), and more.
  • A picnic can be a good idea on a bright summer day.

Tips:

  • Inquire into the availability of extra experiences like swimming, fishing and more.
  • If you bring your dog along, keep it on a leash at all times.
  • Fetch a Discover Card, which allows for parking space for two cars.

7. Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls

  • County: Clallam County
  • Park: Olympic National Park
  • Elevation: 5,545 feet (1,690 m)
  • Coordinates: 48°2′58.3″N 123°47′20.11″W
  • GNIS ID: 1522788
  • Total Height: 119 feet
  • Avg. Width: 5 feet
  • Max. Width: 40 feet
  • Pitch: 90 degrees
  • Run: 30 feet
  • Form: Plunge
  • Watercourse: Falls Creek
  • Avg. Volume: 5.0 Cubic feet/sec
  • Flow Consistency: All year round

Olympic National Park is home to several falls but none as enticing as Marymere Falls, give or take Sol Duc Falls. The Falls Creek flows majestically until it encounters a towering 119 feet notch, which funnels it into a mossy amphitheater below. The sight of water gushing down is mesmerizing, accentuated by mossy boulders and a lush and calm ambience. The occasional logjam blocking the flow renders the fall a surreal look. An additional 20 feet fall lies downstream, partially hidden from public view by bush overgrowth and a deep gorge.

How to Reach?

Get to Port Angeles and head west on HWY 101 for roughly 32 kilometers. Upon getting to milepost 228, head right to enter the parking lot reserved for Lake Crescent and Marymere Falls. Just 300 meters from the parking is the Storm King Ranger Station – the jumping-off point for the waterfall trail. A 100-mile drive from Seattle, it’s accomplishable in 3 hours.

The Hike:

Looking for a family hike? Well, the Marymere Falls trail fits the bill. Getting underway from the Storm King Ranger Station, next to Lake Crescent, it is a 2-mile out and back trail taking you across an old-growth woodland. It’s accomplishable in an hour but the stunning views compel you to go slow and soak in more of the abounding natural beauty. The reasonable length and a relatively flat gradient make it viable for new hikers, kids and the elderly.

Vantage Points:

Upon covering a gentle gradient with a couple of switchbacks, the trail culminates in two viewpoints. The first lies on top of the hillock, offering a 360-degree view down on the gorgeous drop. The second is an extended platform opposite the fall’s lower section.

What to do?

  • Enjoy a packed lunch with family or friends while overlooking the waterfall.
  • After the descent, visit the Lake Crescent Lodge to savor a relaxing retreat.
  • Extend your tour to Lyre River Falls (4.60 miles) and Unnamed Waterfall (4.74 miles).

Tips:

  • Spend some time at Lake Crescent to admire the stunning greenish blue water.
  • Consider blending the main trail with Mount Storm King as the two share the same trailhead. Mind you, Mount Storm King will test your endurance with its steepness.
  • Don’t bring your canine friends along. They aren’t allowed on the trail.

8. Narada Falls

Narada Falls

  • County: Lewis County
  • Park: Mount Rainier National Park
  • Coordinates: 46.77501, -121.74624
  • Elevation: 4564 feet
  • USGS Map: Mount Rainier West 7 1/2″
  • GNIS ID: 1533594
  • Magnitude: 58.41
  • Total Height: 176 feet
  • Tallest Drop: 159 feet
  • Number of Drops: 2
  • Avg. Width: 50 feet
  • Pitch: 81 degrees
  • Run: 40 feet
  • Type: Horsetail & Plunge
  • Watercourse: Paradise River
  • Avg. Volume: 100.0 cubic feet/sec

Each year, hordes of waterfall chasers flock to the Mount Rainier National Park to be dazzled by Narada Falls. A stunning horsetail waterfall springs up when the Paradise River takes a dramatic 17-foot plunge over a basalt cliff into a shallow pool. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real deal is the massive 159-foot drop lying upstream. The stream here branches out into multiple strands during the descent over a ravine running perpendicular to it. If the sight fails to soothe your senses, the clouds of mist and water spray emanating from the fall will. The boulders that shape the falls make the falls more dramatic.

The name, Narada, stems from an eponymous Indian mythical sage who flows as smoothly and freely as a waterfall into different realms. Arthur F. Knight suggested the name, which was formally adopted in 1893. Earlier, they were referred to as Cushman Falls. As a side note, Narada is a Sanskrit word, meaning uncontaminated or pious.

When to visit?

Spring attracts the largest crowds when the falls are at their vibrant best. The volume ups drastically and the width reaches up to 75 feet. However, a visit in winter can be considered to witness the frozen Upper Falls transform into an icicle – a godsend for ice climbers.

The Hike:

Just 150 feet from the road, the falls are accessible by car. While the upper viewpoint lies within the parking lot, the lower viewpoint requires a 0.2 miles hike involving a sharp 200 feet descent. Amenities like picnic tables and toilets are readily available on the premises.

Vantage Points:

Two viewpoints allow for great views of the falls. Located within the parking area, the first viewpoint is well-developed, offering a 360-degree view of the falls. However, be ready to be drenched, as it is prone to strong water spray when the river runs high. The second one occurs downstream, providing a more photogenic side-view of the falls. If you are on SR 706 next to the Paradise River Bridge, the falls are partially spottable from there.

What to do?

  • Continue on the trail to get to the 97-mile around-the-mountain Wonderland Trail.
  • A picnic in the designated area should always be on the cards.
  • Tahoma Cascades (0.20 miles), Washington Cascades (0.35 miles), Ruby Falls (0.41 miles), Tato Falls (0.96 miles), Nahunta Falls (1.11 miles), and other falls in the vicinity can be explored as well.

Tips:

  • Avoid visiting the lower viewpoint in winters or at least, maintain caution. The trail is steep, icy and slippery, prone to accidents.

9. Whatcom Falls, Bellingham

Whatcom Falls, Bellingham

  • Coordinates: 48.75197, -122.42907
  • Elevation: 287 feet
  • USGS Map: Bellingham North 7 1/2″
  • Magnitude: 30.93
  • Total Height: 20 feet
  • Tallest Drop: 20 feet
  • Number of Drops: 1
  • Avg. Width: 35 feet
  • Pitch: 90 degrees
  • Run: 5 feet
  • Form: Vertical Block
  • Watercourse: Whatcom Creek
  • Avg. Volume: 150.0 cu ft/sec
  • Flow Consistency: All Year Round

Welcome to Bellingham, the home to one of the coveted waterfalls in Washington state – Whatcom Falls. Criss-crossing the Whatcom Falls Park, Whatcom Creek undergoes a sharp curve before plunging into a massive boulder below. What the fall lacks in height, it makes up for it with a unique shape. Imagine a unique, vertical block-shaped waterfall unfolding in a serene ambiance marked by moss and towering trees. That’s pretty impressive for a 20 feet fall. Just walk upstream along the creek and the spillways become visible. They divert the excess water back into the creek from the nearby fish hatchery. The spillways might trick you into believing in the presence of a man-made upper tier in the waterfall.

How to Reach?

Reach Bellingham and head on Lakeway Drive for about three and a half kilometers. Once you spot the “Whatcom Falls Park” sign, take Silver Beach Road. Upon covering a kilometer, you get to the parking lot next to the hatchery. The falls are visible after a short walk from there.

Vantage Points:

A Civilian Conservation Corps-era footbridge greets you in the park, offering a holistic view of the falls. A DSLR would serve you well to capture the falls in detail and with clarity.

What to do?

  • Explore the fish hatchery located above the falls. The interpretive displays inform about the local habitat, ensuring an educational-cum-recreational experience.
  • Beat the summer heat with a dip in Whatcom Falls’ shallow plunge pool. However, the nearby Whirlpool Falls offers better swimming avenues with a deeper pool.
  • Explore short trails in the park for a first-hand experience of other water features along the creek. However, certain trails involve steep gradients.
  • Make the most of the picnic shelters to create quixotic memories with family.
  • Let your kids have a great time on the playground just next to the falls.

Tips:

  • You are required to keep your dog on a leash when in the park. However, no such restriction is applicable when hiking the Whiteline Trail.
  • If you wish to use a wheelchair, ensure it has all-terrain tires to negotiate the unpaved areas. You might also need help dealing with the steep gradient.
  • Traveling by bus? Your options include 16, 40 and 41 number buses operated by the Whatcom Transit Authority. Inquire about the bus schedules beforehand.

10. Sol Duc Falls

Sol Duc Falls

  • County: Clallam County
  • Park: Olympic National Park
  • Elevation: 1,952 feet (595 m)
  • Coordinates: 47°57′2.3″N 123°48′54.7″W
  • GNIS ID: 1526098
  • Magnitude: 54.74
  • Total Height: 48 feet
  • Tallest Drop: 37 feet
  • Number of Drops: 2
  • Avg. Width: 20 feet
  • Pitch: 90 degrees
  • Run: 50 feet
  • Type: Segmented Plunges
  • Watercourse: Sol Duc River
  • Avg. Volume: 300.0 cubic feet/sec

Marvel at another centerpiece attraction of the Olympic National Park, Sol Duc Falls. The namesake river fragments into multiple streams, gushing down from 37 feet into a tapered chasm. That’s followed by another relatively smaller 11 feet drop into a wider gorge within the river’s 50 feet run. These waterfalls together form a segmented plunge shape, which is as rare and enticing as it gets. The sun peeping through the dense old-growth rainforest makes the site all the more magical, should you visit the falls during sunrise and sunset.

As a side note, Sol Duc is a Quillayute term, standing for magic waters. Soleduck Falls, Solduck Falls, Medina Falls, and Sol Duc Falls all mean the same.

How to Reach?

Get to Port Angeles and head on Highway 101. Upon traveling 46 kilometers, take left and cover another 22 kilometers to get to the Olympic National Park parking lot.

When to Visit?

Vouch for the spring season when the river runs high enough to split into four streams. Sunrise brings the best out of the falls with golden light accentuating the ambiance. Avoid visiting in winter if you don’t want to hike an additional one and a half miles. Mind you, the inclement weather forces the road to close near the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort.

Vantage Points:

Take advantage of a series of rustic viewing platforms to soak in the beauty of Sol Duc Falls from a safe distance. Even the footbridge over the river can be used for viewing the falls. The diversity of viewpoints offers the luxury of capturing the falls from various angles.

The Hike:

Winding through lush old-growth woodlands and cascades, the main trail is perhaps the easiest and the most family-friendly of all. Getting underway at the picturesque Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, it is a 1.6-mile, round trip with an elevation gain of 200 feet. Upon crossing a small stream, the burble of Sol Duc is audible. And, a few steps further, the fall comes into view. Hop on the historical shelter or on the footbridge to enjoy clear views of the fall.

What to do?

  • Take advantage of the campground nearby to stargaze and munch marshmallows.
  • Visit the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort for mineral pool bathing, massages, and meals.
  • Other trails are also available if you wish to explore more of the reserve.
  • Picnicking in the areas overlooking the falls is a special experience.

Tips:

  • Planning an overnight stay? A permit is required to this end.
  • Overnight tent camping is a great option if you wish to start the hike early the next morning. An early start means fewer crowds and more privacy.
  • If you plan to frequent Olympic National Park more often, purchasing an annual Olympic National Park pass makes sense. It costs $50. On the other hand, the regular entry pass costs $25 with a validity of seven consecutive days.

Check also:

11. Franklin Falls

Franklin Falls

  • County: King County
  • Park: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
  • Coordinates: 49°25′29.4″N 121°25′58.3″W
  • Elevation: 2,589 feet (789 m)
  • USGS Map: Snoqualmie Pass 7 1/2″
  • GNIS ID: 1519768
  • Total Height: 186 feet
  • Tallest Drop: 139 feet
  • Number of Drops: 3
  • Avg. Width: 15 feet
  • Pitch: 75 degrees
  • Run: 225 feet
  • Type: Tiered Plunges
  • Watercourse: South Fork Snoqualmie River
  • Avg. Volume: 115.0 cubic feet/sec
  • Magnitude: 44.53

Nestled in the verdant Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Franklin Falls maintains a steady stream of visitors all year round, mostly hikers seeking an easy excursion. Think of Franklin Falls as a series of three waterfalls in Washington state with a total height of 186 feet. However, the falls might not seem as tall at a casual glance from the base section. But upon close inspection from a better vantage point upstream, the massive size adds up.

The topmost drop is 19 feet with the South Fork Snoqualmie River cascading down the cliff surrounded by towering timbers. A stone’s throw away, the next drop mimics the previous one in shape but is double the height (30 feet) and creates a wider and way more aesthetic green-hued plunge pool below. The pool’s opening paves way for the third drop with the water plunging 30 feet into a narrow gorge. It funnels the stream and prepares it for the massive 109 feet drop. All four falls collectively present an amazing tiered plunge shape.

When to Visit?

Summer is the best bet, as the volume of the river rises by a staggering 20 percent due to snow melting. The water gushes outwards over the precipice to create an enormous curved plume. The pool below transforms into an excellent swimming hole at this time of the year. If icicles impress you, visit during the winters but only if you can withstand the chill.

The Hike:

A 2.0 miles roundtrip takes you to Franklin Falls with a minimal 400 feet elevation gain. The trail is not just short but also easy, safe, shady, and family-friendly. After 0.7 miles from the parking lot, it runs parallel to NFR 58. Another 0.3 miles lead you to the falls. Only the last tier of the fall can be spotted from the trail. For the rest, you need to get closer.

What to do?

  • A deluge of adrenaline junkies comes here to enjoy canoeing.
  • Take a plunge into the catch pool to beat the summer heat.
  • Enjoy a picnic with friends and family after the waterfall hike

Tips:

  • Don’t swim during the winters. The water is cold enough to cause hypothermia.
  • If the parking is full, drive half a mile more to find another parking lot
  • The park lacks garbage receptacles. So, pack out what you pack in.

12. Myrtle Falls

Myrtle Falls

  • Address: Ashford, WA 98304, United States
  • County: Pierce County
  • Park: Mount Rainier National Park
  • Coordinates: 46.79122, -121.73234
  • Parking Pass: National Park Pass
  • Elevation: 5515 feet
  • USGS Map: Mount Rainier East 7 1/2″
  • Total Height: 72 feet
  • Number of Drops: 1
  • Avg. Width: 15 feet
  • Pitch: 77 degrees
  • Run: 30 feet
  • Type: Horsetail
  • Watercourse: Edith Creek
  • Avg. Volume: 35.0 cubic feet/sec
  • Magnitude: 30.66

For the most part of the year, shutterbugs frequent Myrtle Falls for some Insta-worthy pictures. With a stunning fall cascading down a 72-foot cliff and the majestic Mt Rainier in the backdrop, it’s easy to guess why. As if the fall and a mountain in a single frame aren’t impressive enough, the quaint, green ambiance can leave you clamoring for more.

The Edith Creek takes a profound fall into the Paradise Valley below with a broad beginning and a narrow ending to form one of the best waterfalls in Washington State. The stream diversifies into many streams during the descent over the jagged cliff to mimic a horsetail. As a side note, the waterfall is christened by Julius Stampfler in honor of a lady he escorted on a guided tour to the area. The name has been officially in effect since 1907.

How to Reach?

Head straight on HWY 123 to Stevens Canyon Road. Cover roughly 30 km from the turnoff and then take right onto Paradise Road East. Drive for 3 km to reach the Paradise Visitors Center. The parking lot is right next to it. Mind you, HWY 123 is closed in winter.

When to Visit?

Irrespective of the season, Myrtle Falls is a gorgeous site all year around. But spring brings out the biggest volume and a more profound flow. At all costs, avoid winters, as the snow in the valley restricts access to the fall. Photography isn’t a feasible option, therefore.

The Hike:

The view isn’t just awe-inspiring but easily accessible as well. You’ll be hiking through the famed, 5.5-mile Skyline Trail into the park with the Paradise Inn being your starting point. However, the option of heading straight to the waterfall is also there. This 1.3 km out & back route is accomplishable in around 20 minutes. From the inn, a well-developed trail leads to the footbridge, which is an excellent vantage point for the waterfall.

The Trail at a Glance:

  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Type of Trail: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Easy

What to Do?

  • Craving for a long and challenging hike? Feel free to take the Skyline Trail.
  • The trail is also conducive to snowshoeing and trail running, besides hiking.
  • Pack a picnic if you prefer to stay longer.
  • Other falls can also be explored, including Edith Gorge Falls (0.05 miles), Alta Vista Falls (0.33 miles), Sluiskin Falls (0.74 miles), Golden Gate Falls (0.74 miles), Pebble Creek Falls (0.82 miles), Paradise Falls (0.84 miles), and Ruby Falls (0.94 miles).

Tips:

  • Check the snow status before leaving. Mind you, the snow in the valley might persist till summer, making the trail dangerous if not completely inaccessible.
  • Sunrise could be the ideal time to visit. The crowds are fewer and the fall just comes alive when the fresh sun rays strike the sparkling water gushing down.
  • An overnight stay at the Paradise Inn can help you start early the next morning.
  • Keep your canine friends at home. They aren’t allowed on the trail.

13. Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

  • County: Snohomish County
  • Park: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
  • Coordinates: 47.78950°N 121.56924°W
  • GNIS ID: 1516944
  • USGS Map: Index 7 1/2″
  • Elevation: 1,601 feet (488 m)
  • Total Height: 1291 feet
  • Tallest Drop: 322 feet
  • Number of Drops: 7
  • Avg. Width: 75 feet
  • Pitch: 75 degrees
  • Run: 2080 feet
  • Type: Tiered Horsetails
  • Watercourse: Bridal Veil Creek
  • Avg. Volume: 40.0 cubic feet/sec
  • Magnitude: 45.58

Emanating from Lake Serene, Bridal Veil Creek takes multiple plunges in a 2080-foot run through Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, creating 7 stunning falls. Each fall is set apart from the other by a section of a relatively flatter cascading stream. The drops and cascading streams together account for a staggering height of 1291 feet, making Bridal Veil one of the tallest sets of waterfalls in Washington state. However, only a few falls are viewable from any given vantage point while for the rest, you need to get up close.

For Bridal Veil Falls, it all begins just at the outlet of Lake Serene with the stream free falling from 186 feet over a ramp of granite to create a fan shape. Where this fall ends, the second tier takes shape as the creek divides into two with the minor stream dropping parallel to the main one. The next drop is 92 feet with the creek being channeled into a narrow gully. The bush overgrowth prevents the view of this drop. Another major fall is a few meters away, featuring a stunning 278 feet horsetail shape amidst old-growth woodland.

How to Reach?

Get to Everett and head on HWY 2 towards Gold Bar. Cover about 11 km before taking left to the Skykomish Bridge and then take right onto Mt. Index Road. continue for about 400 meters before taking right. Follow the sign to reach the parking lot, which is a few meters ahead. The trailhead is 56 miles from Seattle, taking roughly 1 hr 30 minutes via WA-522 E.

Vantage Points:

The largest two drops are conveniently visible from HWY 2 while the final two are best viewed from the footbridge over the creek you’ll encounter on your hike. For the rest, you require getting closer. However, only two of the tiers have developed trail accessibility. You might find yourself scrambling to get closer to other tiers, which exposes you to accidents.

Tips:

  • If possible, plan your trip on a weekday to avoid an overflowing parking lot and crowded trails. Mind you, weekends and holidays attract large crowds.
  • If you park on the dirt road, ensure to leave ample space for the traffic to pass by.

14. Comet Falls

Comet Falls

  • County: Pierce County
  • Park: Mount Rainier National Park
  • Coordinates: 46°47′45.4″N 121°46′38.3″W
  • USGS Map: Mount Rainier West 7 1/2″
  • GNIS ID: 1517992
  • Elevation: 5102 feet
  • Magnitude: 58.7
  • Total Height: 462 feet
  • Tallest Drop: 301 feet
  • Number of Drops: 4
  • Avg. Width: 30 feet
  • Pitch: 90 degrees
  • Run: 500 feet
  • Type: Tiered Plunges
  • Watercourse: Van Trump Creek
  • Avg. Volume: 75.0 cubic feet/sec
  • Flow Consistency: All year round

The intensely glaciated Mt. Rainier Peak feeds more than 150 waterfalls in Washington state within the confines of Mt. Rainier National Park, some over 300 feet tall. Other than Narada Falls and Myrtle Falls, Comet Falls is yet another stalwart perched in the national park. With four towering falls to admire and cherish within Van Trump Creek’s 500 feet run, Comet Falls, exemplifies a tiered plunge shape. Different surveys suggest different heights though, the four drops together account for a staggering 462 feet height.

The main drop is a 300-foot plunge flanked by a towering amphitheater of fine-grained, dark volcanic rock. Two relatively smaller drops (52 and 19 feet respectively) are located downstream while one (78 feet), is upstream. The 12 feet stretch of boulder-choked stream between the main and third falls accounts for the rest of the total height. As a side note, the name is derived from the comet-tail shape the falls acquire during the high flow season.

When to Visit?

Fed by Van Trump Glacier, Comet Falls achieve the best flow during spring. The lack of volume due to rapid glacier recession prevents the falls from acquiring the defining comet shape too often. But if it takes on the shape at any time of the year, it has to be spring. Avoid winters unless you are comfortable snowshoeing the trail. Mid-week, early morning visits are recommended to avoid crowds, especially during the peak season.

The Hike:

An easy 1.8 miles trail takes you to the base of the waterfall. The gradient is steep but easily navigable for all fitness levels. A 0.8-mile uphill hike from here leads to the Rampart Ridge Trail. If you prefer to walk to Van Trump Park, take the 0.5-mile trailhead from here.

Vantage Points:

The first fall remains obscure to all viewpoints, save for the upper tiers of the waterfall and during the climb towards Van Trump Park. The other 3 tiers are visible from the designated viewpoints and accessible via an easy, shaded trail leading to the Comet Falls and beyond.

What to do?

  • Feel free to indulge in ice climbing during the cold season.
  • Embark on the 5.1-km out-and-back Comet & Christine Falls trail if seeking a more challenging hike. Winding through old-growth forest, it’s accomplishable in 2 hours.
  • Even in absence of a designated camp, camping is possible subject to permits.
  • Wildlife watching is a reality with the presence of marmots, pikas, and goats.
  • Some terrific falls nearby can also be explored, such as Bloucher Falls (0.24 miles), Van Trump Falls (0.29 miles), Lower Pearl Falls (0.78 miles), and Cushman Crest Falls (0.84 miles).

Tips:

  • Be well-equipped when venturing during snow-packed winters. The essentials for a safe trip include hiking poles, ice ax, GPS, snowshoes, and layered winter clothing.
  • Maintain caution when crossing streams in winter. The brittle ice layer is deceptive.
  • For shutterbugs, sunrise is the ideal time to visit. Clad in golden rays, the sparkling water is shaded by the dark granite cliff to present contrasting hues.
  • Depending on the duration of the stay, carry plenty of water or water treatment kits to avoid consuming contaminated water.
  • Priced at $55, the Mount Rainier Annual Pass is a more economical option than the single vehicle fee ($30) if you wish to frequent the national park more often.

15. Ladder Creek Falls

Ladder Creek Falls

  • Address: State Rte 20, Marblemount, Washington 98267, US
  • County: Whatcom County
  • Coordinates: 48.6763, -121.23715
  • Elevation: 660 feet
  • USGS Map: Diablo Dam 7 1/2″
  • Total Height: 108 feet
  • Tallest Drop: 46 feet
  • Number of Drops: 3
  • Avg. Width: 10 feet
  • Max. Width: 15 feet
  • Pitch: 85 degrees
  • Run: 150 feet
  • Type: Tiered Horsetails
  • Watercourse: Ladder Creek
  • Avg. Volume: 75.0 cu ft/sec
  • Flow Consistency: All year round

Make way for the three-tiered horsetail with each tier enshrouded by the twisting ravine, which the namesake creek has chiseled over the years. Nestled next to the North Cascades National Park, all three tiers, measuring 34, 28 and 46 feet respectively, are on the heels of each other – just within Ladder Creek’s 150 feet run. The mist and burble together with the quaint environment make Ladder Creek Falls one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Washington State. As if the natural splendor wasn’t enough, the falls host a light show each night all year round, literally showcasing the falls in a different light.

When to Visit?

Regardless of the season, Ladder Creek maintains a consistent flow throughout the year.

Since a significant amount of water is diverted to feed the nearby Gorge Powerhouse, the volume remains the same – whether you visit in spring, summer, fall or winter. Need we say, the best time to visit is dusk when the falls come alive with colored lights and music?

How to Reach?

Via HWY 20, reach Newhalem from Burlington. Take the main street and then head left. Drive for about 400 meters to the outskirts of Newhalem where the Ladder Creek Trailhead gets underway. The gravel lot hosts parking close to the creek. If you wish a more direct route for the return, go via a small suspension bridge over the Skagit River.

Vantage Points:

The twisted chasm shape obstructs the direct views of all three tiers. The third drop is the most visible of them all if you walk to a tree near the staircase. For the rest, get closer. To get to the viewpoints, cross the suspension bridge and take the stairs.

The Hike:

The construction of the powerhouse was a feat in the 1930s. The authorities wanted to showcase its power and abilities, and hence, the trail. The 0.5 miles trail takes you to the powerhouse with an elevation gain of 359 feet. The trail is easy, well marked, and dotted by several benches for you to relax and soak in the abounding natural beauty of the area.

What to Do?

  • A bevy of easy day hikes helps you explore the area thoroughly. Or else, opt for the ranger-guided walks to get up close and personal with the area.
  • If camping is in mind, head to the nearby Newhalem Creek Campground. Available from May to September, the campground is easily accessible from the falls via a well-defined trail. Accommodation is available at the North Cascades Learning Center.
  • Go through the interpretive signs detailing the history of the powerhouse.
  • Feast your eyes on the light show available from dusk to midnight. The falls come alive with rainbow colors and music, ensuring an unforgettable experience.
  • Extend your itinerary to other waterfalls in close vicinity, including Newhalem Falls (0.27 miles), Newhalem Creek Falls (1.16 miles), Gorge Creek Falls (2.21 miles), Bouck Falls (2.25 miles), Babcock Falls (2.71 miles), Ketchum Creek Falls (2.86 miles) and Trappers Peak Falls (3.16 miles).

Tips:

  • The trailhead can only be accessed from the west side in the cold season. It will take about two hours and forty-five minutes from Seattle. So, plan accordingly.
  • Carry a flashlight if you wish to walk to the campground after the light show.

Conclusion:

The waterfalls in Washington state are a crowd puller for their irresistible aesthetics, healing abilities, and soothing ambiance. At Dunia Ka Gyan, we have listed the top 15 of them to narrow down the options for you. We have covered everything you need to know to plan well – think history, the best time to visit, vantage points, trails, what to do, and tips.

So, take your pick and hike into the wilderness to explore these hidden gems. Whether solo or with family and friends, a great time is guaranteed. Have fun and return to us for more. Also, don’t forget to share your experience with us in the comment section below.

Happy waterfall chasing!

Rohit Kumar
Rohit Kumar
Passionate about content quality and attention to detail, Rohit has penned over 15,000 copies for some of the leading online and offline publications in their eight-year career. Currently heading the content team at Dunia Ka Gyan, he believes in team spirit, ingenuity, and collective growth.

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