Waterfalls have been cloaked in mystery and myth for as long as people have known about them. (Come on, who didn’t get a shiver when they landed the helicopter next to one in “Jurassic Park”?). The largest waterfalls in the world draw people from every continent, but lucky for you, you don’t need to hop on a plane for Hawaii or Zambia to revel at some rushing water.
Here are five majorly impressive waterfalls a little closer to home.
Alamere Falls, Point Reyes National Seashore, California
There may be more-impressive waterfalls in close proximity, but when it comes to uniqueness, Alamere Falls takes the cake. Even with an 8-mile approach, it’s more accessible than nearby falls and the entire hike in offers beautiful views of the craggy coastline.
The reward? A raging waterfall that crashes onto a coarse sand beach and meets up directly with the waves of the Pacific Ocean.
Havasu Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation, Arizona
Nestled into a side canyon of the more famous Grand Canyon, this waterfall is rare in that it gushes year-round. Its milky blue-green water makes it a surreal experience and one of the most Instagrammed spots in the country.
How could it not be? The red-rock dams and rock formations surrounding the falls give the whole look of the place a magical contrast. It’s a no-brainer on our list.
Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
If there’s one thing the Pacific Northwest has plenty of, it’s water, and the Columbia River Gorge boasts quite a few falls to choose from. At 620 feet, Multnomah Falls is tall enough to be jaw dropping on its own, but add in the concrete arch bridge that stretches across its lower drop and this waterfall is truly a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.
Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite Falls may seem like an obvious choice, but we couldn’t leave 2,425 feet of falling water off our list. The falls is one of the tallest in the world and is the starring act of the waterfall systems of Yosemite.
Add to that its elusive flow — it runs only as the winter icepack melts and usually dries up by midsummer — and it’s no wonder why this landmark has inspired some of the most influential outdoorsmen of our time. Photographer Ansel Adams and conservation advocate John Muir both were fascinated by the spot.
Cumberland Falls, Corbin, Kentucky
Known as the Niagara of the South, this semi-circle dish of rock produces a similarly wide waterfall complete with rainbows and, if you’re lucky, lunar “moonbows.” Go during the fall for a backdrop of vivid orange foliage and a heaping dose of countryside solitude.