Fresh air, tumbling waters and rising mist make waterfalls a multi-sensory marvel. There are thousands of these natural phenomena across the country, but experts say some are more special than others. In the Spring issue of Via magazine, AAA shares eight must-see waterfalls in the West.
Yosemite National Park is home to countless waterfalls, including Yosemite Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in California. Yosemite Falls is actually made up of three separate falls which create over 2,400 feet of free falls and majestic tumbles. When the moon is full and the water level is high, visitors are treated to lunar rainbows—or moonbows—in the falls’ spray. The best time to visit begins in spring, when snow starts to melt, and runs through summer, when the falls reach maximum flow.
Located on the Snake River in southern Idaho, Shoshone Falls has earned the nickname “Niagara of the West.” Although with a 900-foot-rim and 200 feet plunge, it is actually taller than Niagara Falls. The falls can be viewed from Shoshone Falls Park. The horseshoe-shaped falls can also be viewed via the Snake River Canyon Rim Trail, which is the same trail Evel Knievel used to attempt to jump Snake River Canyon in the 1970s.
Arizona’s Grand Falls are a sight to be seen. The chocolate brown waters are created by volcanic runoff from Merriam Crater. The falls sit on Navajo Nation land in the Painted Desert in Leupp, Arizona, which is about 30 miles east of Flagstaff. The waterfall generally only flows during March and April, but occasionally becomes active for short periods during monsoon season.
It isn’t the largest waterfall in California, but it’s one of the most beautiful. Burney Falls is the heart of California’s McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. The 100 million gallons of water that gush down the 129-foot falls every day originate from underground springs. The park experiences a high volume of visitors in the spring and summer, and is often filled to capacity on weekends and holidays.
Bridal Veil Falls
There are several waterfalls across the country named Bridal Veil, but few compare to Utah’s tallest waterfall, which is just outside of downtown Provo. The base of the 600 foot falls is easily reached through Bridal Veil Falls Park, which is also an area that is popular for picnics, marriage proposals and engagement photos. Trails are open year-round, but access may be limited in the winter months due to snow.
Located 25 miles east of Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls is North America’s most powerful waterfall by volume and height. It is also one of the most popular scenic attractions in the northwest, with more than 1.5 million visitors every year. The 270 foot falls is situated on a two-acre park and can be viewed from upper and lower viewing platforms. Lights illuminate the falls and provide additional viewing time in the evenings.
Deep in the Grand Canyon on the tribal lands of the Havasupai, you’ll find Havasu Falls, a true oasis in the desert. The falls’ turquoise water cascades from red desert cliffs into natural travertine pools 90 feet below. To get there, you’ll need to secure a camping or lodging reservation for Supai Village and then prepare for 20 miles of hiking out and back. Havasu Falls isn’t easy to get to, but it’s certainly worthwhile.
Located in “Waterfall Alley” along the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is a 611-foot-tall magnificent meeting of water, rock and forest. Much of its trail system is closed due to damage from wildfire last summer, but its lower viewing platform is scheduled to reopen by March, just in time for the falls’ peak flow.
Read more about the must-see waterfalls in the West in the Spring issue of Via magazine or online at ViaMagazine.com. Share your travel adventures with Via on social media by using #ViaAdventure.