It’s hard not fall in love with water rushing over a cliffs edge into a sparkling pool below. Waterfalls have always been a favorite destination of families, and anyone who has stared up at H2O in free fall or watched a river suddenly take a drop into a canyon hundreds of feet below can understand why; they are just plain gorgeous. Trekaroo contributers have shared so many of their waterfall secrets and each one is worth a visit, but here, in no particular order, are our top 10 waterfalls for families:
1. Yosemite Falls
The tallest waterfall in North America is also one of the most stunning on the planet. Yosemite Falls is located in the impossibly beautiful Yosemite Valley, its an easy (and stroller friendly) walk from the shuttle stop to the base of the lower falls. Older kids who love to hike can make the 2600 foot climb (7.6 miles round trip) to the very top of the upper falls. Its an incredible view that will be etched into their minds forever. Peak flow is in late spring and early summer. While you are in Yosemite be sure to check out Bridalveil, Vernal, and Nevada Falls. They are all guaranteed to make your jaw drop.
2. Niagara Falls
While the Niagara Falls are not the tallest, they are certainly some of the most impressive falls your family will ever see. They straddle the international border with Canada and have been a popular vacation destination for decades. Families can throw on a poncho and hop on board the Maid of the Mist to get a close up view of the falls, or wander through the tunnels behind the falls to get a very different (but equally as wet) view. At night the falls are lit up with multi-color lights, but I think they look much more beautiful during the day when they are able to show their much more stunning natural colors.
3. Yellowstone Falls
Yellowstone is probably best known for being a geothermal wonderland, but it also has some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the country. Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls plunge with tremendous force down deep into the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, creating incredible vistas along the way. There are a number of different spots to view the falls including Artist’s Point, but I think one of the most unique vantage points is taking the trail down to the brink of the Lower Falls. Watching thousands of gallons per second pour over the brink is spellbinding.
4. Akaka Falls
There are so many amazing waterfalls plunging deep down into the tropical forests of the Hawaiian Islands but Akaka Falls on the Big Island made our list because of its dramatic beauty and family-friendly accessibility. A short walk leads visitors to water plunging 442 feet into the spring carved gorge. If standing within view of Akaka Falls doesn’t make you want to build a grass hut and take up permanent residence in the jungle, nothing will.
5. Snoqualmie Falls
Just outside of Seattle are Snoqualmie Falls, one of Washington’s most popular natural attractions. 1.5 million visitors come every year to watch the Snoqualmie River plunge 268 feet, creating a white curtain of water. There are observation points at the top and bottom of the falls and plenty of nice hiking trails in the area. If you simply can’t get enough of the falls then consider staying at the Salish Lodge and Spa which is just perched near the brink, and enjoy a piece of Northwestern luxury.
6. Shoshone Falls
Near the city of Twin Falls, ID, the Snake River decides to ditch the whole “winding through the countryside” routine and do something a bit more exciting. It plunges 212 feet creating a dramatic spray and a beautiful spectacle. Shoshone Falls is best viewed in the spring as irrigation diversions can reduce the flow quite a bit in the summer and fall. There is a nice picnic area near the parking lot with an incredible view, so don’t forget to pack a lunch!
7. Multnomah Falls
This gorgeous waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge is hard to miss while traveling along Interstate 84. Don’t just give it a drive by, take time to stop and enjoy these beautiful falls as well as several other named falls along the same road as this show stopper. Multnomah Falls drop 620 feet, and it’s an easy walk from the parking lot through a tunnel under the highway to a viewing area near the base. If you are looking for a real adventure, take the steep hike up multiple switchbacks to the top of the falls. The view will be worth the burn in your thighs.
8. Silver Falls State Park
This forested park just east of Salem, OR is a waterfall lovers dream. An 8.7 mile trail takes hikers past 10 waterfalls along Silver Creek. Whether you only have time to visit the easily viewed 177 foot South Falls or an entire day to follow the trail and see them all, you are guaranteed at least one “wow” to escape under your breath.
9. Upper Whitewater Falls
Located 60 miles from Asheville, NC in the Jocassee Gorge, this stunner is the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies. Its just a short stroller-friendly walk from the parking lot to the upper viewing platform. For an even better view, head down 154 steps to the lower viewing platform and take it all in. While in the area, be sure to check out Gorges State Park for more wonderful waterfall-filled goodness.
10. Glacier National Park
I know, I know, Glacier National Park isn’t a waterfall. But come mid-summer, a drive down Going to the Sun Road will place you in a waterfall lover’s paradise. Snowmelt cascades over cliff edges, down steep mountainsides, and even on to the road itself, creating drama that only Mother Nature can dish out. This may be the only place on the planet where I was happy to be stuck in road construction traffic. The delays allowed us to slow down and enjoy parts of the park (waterfalls included) that we might have otherwise missed.
We’d love to hear from you. Even if it isn’t on this list, let us know what your absolute favorite waterfall to visit is. Have you taken your kids to see it?