To elevate your journey across the state, the best waterfalls in New York are awaiting your arrival. Trek through the verdant forests of the Kaaterskill Falls and be astonished. Ascend the rocky terrains of the Taughnnock Falls, and climb the craggy cliffs of the Chittenango Falls. Either way, it’s splendid. Stop by roadside waterfalls, like the Lower Falls, and Niagara Falls will not be the only ones remaining engraved deeply into your memories.
The best waterfalls in New York are so captivating, you will forget to blink. The state shimmers with cascades of waterfalls dotted across the pulsating lands, with abundance of forests and terrains to traipse through.
It’s most arguably true that the state, with only its city silhouette, is an unbeatable pull that keeps the feet planted to the cement. Still, the natural pleasures buried deep in the countryside and elsewhere incomparable. The sight of the spectacular plunges, the sound of their roars, and the feel of the cool mist trickling against your face – with each of the New York waterfalls, you’re in for an ever-fulfilling tour.
There are falls of all different kinds and sizes in the state. From the roadside plummets to the ones hidden deep inside forests. From the thunderous gushes between rugged cliffs to the gentle strokes through green gorges, none of these must go amiss from your travel itinerary. Moreover, if you visit during the months of spring and autumn, try to view any of these waterfalls.
1. Niagara Falls, Buffalo :
Bridging the borders of Ontario Province, Canada, and the New York State, Niagra Falls is the earth’s biggest waterfall in the USA. Gaze over this majestic display of nature from the sky, the river, and even from an arm’s length.
Topper of best waterfalls in New York, it flows directly from Great Lakes, before plunging 170ft downwards. The overwhelming tumbles of the foaming waters lead all the way to the great Atlantic.
Even though you’ll get the most phenomenal views from the Canadian side, it’s equally satisfying from the American perspective. The vision of the showers plummeting into nadirs, and the white mist clouding around, will sink deep into your memoirs.
Bring your beloved partner to this beautiful “honeymoon capital of the world”, and reconnoiter all its wonders. Visit Niagara Falls State Park with your family, and be sure to take your children to Martin’s Fantasy Island. Catch a show there too while you’re at it, or simply raid the hiking trails.
Moreover, you can board the Maid of the Mist to get close to the waters of American Falls. Be embarked to the Cave of Winds and have a magnificent tour behind the water curtains.
2. Middle Falls, Genesee River :
If you’re in search of places to go hiking with waterfalls, the Middle Falls will surely impress you. Settled in Letchworth State Park with the majestic Genesee River flowing through, its unparalleled beauty will captivate you to the core.
Standing at 107ft above grounds with spectacular curtains of water splashing with foam, its rectangular outline is incredible. So magnificent are the sight, the wind, and the light; the visitors get impressed by the outstanding beauty. Follow the Gorge Trail to reach some of the most epic vantage points of the entire area. Also, do stand at the Inspiration Point to be blown away by the panoramas of all the falls and the Grand Canyon of the East. For 66-miles of the hike, head to the canyon and be greeted by its riveting rugged nature.
3. Lower Falls, Genesee River, Rochester :
When visiting the waterfalls along the Genesee River, start here at the Lower Falls before moving upstream. Also known as the Enfield Falls, this arguably the most scenic of all the 12 waterfalls homed by Robert H. Treman State Park.
Take the bridge to admire the pouring waters from a different perspective. With the additional sight of fishermen trying their luck at the base of the waterfall, it’s quite easy to forget that you’re surrounded by urban features.
This fall is overflowing with not just enchanting natural beauty, but also thrilling adventures. Hike along the trails and be greeted by picturesque views. After breaking into an ever-pleasing sweat, take a leap off the diving board and hit the sparkling pool. Stand beneath the gushing shower to have a soul-refreshing cooldown.
There’s no doubt; the Lower Falls is a great form of escape within steps away from the city.
4. Upper Falls, Genesee River :
By now there’s no doubt that the Genesee River bares some of best waterfalls in New York. And probably the most beautiful ones too. Take this one – the Upper Falls – for another example.
Nuzzled in between rocky cliffs and phenomenal foliage, the little sister of Middle Falls is a sight to behold. Taking the spotlight is the Portage High Bridge while hanging 230ft above the falls. This 40ft shower of sparkling fresh waters of the Genesee River is only a hop away from the Middle Falls.
While facing the falls, you’ll feel your heart quivering with excitement, wondering which angle has the best view. The massive cliffs and verdant forests gracing the plunging shower are even more radiant during autumn.
5. High Falls, Genesee River, Rochester :
Amongst the top New York cities for travel, Rochester is one and its waterfalls will tell exactly why. When road tripping through the city routes, do not miss out on the High Falls. Almost 100ft high, this impressive cascade of glistering waters further intensifies the city’s breathtaking skyline.
The urban frame around the falls makes it even more pleasing, and unique from the rest which caved by nature. Get even more astonishing views from High Falls Terrace Platform located east of the river. Or climb atop the Genesee Brew House, and grab a chair with a cup of coffee.
The Pont de Rennes Bridge itself is a reward visual, but walking across its pedestrian is a different treat. Be assured not to confuse it with High Falls Gorge at Wilmington. Now, that waterfall does have other interesting offerings at the wait.
6. Eternal Flames Fall, Orchard Park :
Venturing through small villages and hamlets accommodates as one of the top things to do in NYC. But the villages outside the city and within the whole state are no less pristine. The Orchard Park is one of them. And if you’re near it, take a pause at Shale Creek Reserve. You’ll witness here an unbelievable creation of nature.
At first glance, this fall is nothing out of the ordinary. A soft stream of water grazes down rocky steps and plunges down 30ft into the water bed. But what elevates the magnificence is the dancing flame caved behind the falls. The flame blazes due to the release of a gas stream from beneath the rocks – a very bizarre natural phenomenon, indeed. And hence, the title: Eternal Flames Fall.
Not that the flame can’t be extinguished, which it does once a while. But you can always light it up using matchsticks. To reach the falls though will require a good hike through the 1.5-mile long edgy trail. It might take a good 40-50 minutes, so wear your best pair of hiking shoes and do carry food in your backpack.
7. Taughannock Falls, Ulysses :
Like a precious jewel, the Taughnnock Falls kept well within. With massive jagged cliffs as the box and opaque verdure as the wrap, it’s a present you’ll be delighted by when undone. This string of sparkling waters is another of the best waterfalls in New York. It’ll give you the feeling of walking right into a fairyland, only minus the nymphs.
This thundering cascade is amongst the tallest waterfalls in the eastern USA, even more than Niagara Falls. Take a minute to let this fact sink in unless you prefer to be overwhelmed when seeing it for real. Towering 400ft above the immense gorge, the falls rush down 215ft into the water bed. Standing mighty tall in Taughannock Falls State Park, you’ll be at its mercy.
Follow the Gorge and Rim Trails and be bestowed with even more iconic vistas. Feel all its tranquility as the rapid cacophony of the roaring falls embraces you. What further enhances Ithaca’s star-attraction are its campsites, boat launch, and canoeing and kayaking services.
8. Kaaterskill Falls, Catskills :
It’s no surprise that Kaaterskill Falls has an easy spot in our list of best waterfalls in New York. The Catskill Mountains in upstate New York is no less than a magical land that draws people in to never let go.
The glistering water cascades dramatically over two tall tiers, before crashing down 260ft into the pool. The phenomenal view along with the splashing cacophony will creep into your soul with calming sensations. Stand in front of the grandeur and let the cool mist melt on your skin. You’ll find yourself unable to look away.
With the autumn foliage blushing with red, orange, and yellow hues, it’s the best time to visit one of the tallest waterfalls in New York. However, a spring hike does count for one of the best Catskills Adventures, as well.
It’s highly recommended though that you start your journey from atop before heading downwards. The trails are slippery and it isn’t easy to climb uphill without risking your life.
All in all, its seasonal variations of hiking, open picnic spots for families, and quaint beauty add enough to the Kaaterskill Falls; a stop by which is sure to elevate your excursion to no ends.
9. Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca :
Ithaca is amongst the best small towns in New York. And its waterfalls further add to its ‘gorges’-ness. Foaming on its creek before dropping 165ft to a pool, Buttermilk Falls is perfect for a summer daytrip.
Towering over the Cayuga Lake, this fall huddled in the 911 acre Buttermilk Falls State Park. The photograph-worthy falls are beautiful to stare at, and even better to stand beneath the shower.
It’s not one of those falls that you must enjoy over a strenuous hike. Lucky for those who aren’t walkers, you can enjoy its appeal at close hand right upon entrance. Take a dip into the pool with your children and be refreshed at the coolness.
To immerse more into the leafy beauty adding color to the falls, hike along the Gorge Rim Trail. Glimpses of smaller falls and streaming noises filling the void will surprise you to ends.
10. Lucifer Falls, Ithaca :
Beautiful Lucifer Falls naturally adds to the town’s charm. The heart-melting cascade dips down 115ft, and is one of top highlights of Robert H Treman State Park.
You can easily reach the falls by taking the Gorge Trail from the parking at the West Entrance. It’s a 2.5-mile hike, and you’ll get to admire stellar vistas while going uphill. For all you adventurers, the entire area is a 4.3 miles round trip which you can hike within two and a half hours.
Dive into the pool at the base of the racing pour, and freshen up under the shades of lustrous foliage. End the day here over a joyful picnic with your friends and family. Nevertheless, if you still wish to continue exploring more nearby, the Ithaca Falls is just a short leap away. So do check it out.
11. Chittenango Falls, Cazenovia :
The crown jewel of Chittenango Falls State Park is the 167ft Chittenango Falls with intense cascade flowing over a 400million year’s old bedrock. Undoubtedly a topper amongst best waterfalls in New York, its soothing yet energizing ambience will impress you.
Right at the base, on the Chittenango Creek, is delightful wooden bridge for you to get closer to the shower. Looped by meandering trails, such as the Meadow Trail and the Creekside Trail, the bewildering visuals will penetrate through your mind and heart.
You can bring your family out here for quality time over picnic and fishing, too. It’s a great place to relax and bond over the musical harmony of the cascades and warm beams of the day.
12. Central Cascade waterfalls, Watkins Glen, Finger Lakes :
Finger Lakes region boasts some of most immensely majestic waterfalls across the states. And the Watkins Glen State Park shelters 19 of those cascades, each standing out more than the other. The crystal-like flows from Seneca Lake and the rugged beauty explains exactly why it’s amongst USA’s top 3 state parks.
Of it all, only four have been named. Take the signature trail through the winding gorge and delve through all the falls. The Central Cascade, when in your line of vision, will have you spellbound. The alluring pour down of this 60ft tall cascade outlined by rough textured cliffs is spectacular.
Continue with your hike around the Glen Creek and you’ll come across the rest of its enticing waterfalls. With each step led by the trails – beside, behind, above and beneath each fall – you’ll continue falling in love. The Watkins Glen Falls, New York will remain imprinted in you minds for a very long time.
13. Rainbow Falls, Watkins Glen, Finger Lakes :
The western part of New York adorned with mesmerizing features. The deep gorges covered in dense foliage and framed with towering cliffs are just impeccable. As for the Rainbow Falls in Watkins Glen State Park – it’s the most magical one yet.
Between very deep craggy cliffs the sheer cascade of crystal water plunges straight down. The trail will lead you behind the falls, so you might get splashes of cool water. But that only adds to the thrills. Not that you’ll get to witness a rainbow too often, unless a lucky streak of light casts over the droplets through the minimal spaces.
Note though that the gorge trail is super slippery, so you must wear proper shoes. Continue up higher along the trail and you’ll come across the other splendors, such as the Cavern Cascade and Pluto Falls.
14. Rainbow Falls, Adirondacks :
Yes, another Rainbow Falls to grace our list. Just be sure to not get confused with the Rainbow Falls in Watkins Glen, this one is in Adirondacks. More specifically, it’s a resplendent series of showers that sparkles its way from the Ausable River.
Residing in the Ausable Chasm with charm, you can admire its evergreen beauty easily off the main road. Know that there’s a hydro-electric power company that regulates the river’s flow, so you can’t be too sure of what you’ll witness at hand. You might either catch a thunderous overflow splashing its way against the rocks, or even might stare simply at a subdued stream.
Nonetheless, it’s still one of the best waterfalls in New York for sure. But it’s not only the awakening beauty of the chasm that makes it so unforgettable. Expect to be thrown by ancient rock formations when heading along the trials. Jacob’s Well and Hyde’s Cave and Elephant’s Head – all await to be blessed by your wondrous eyes.
To try at one the several physical and fun activities packed here, you can choose one of the tour packages. If you pick The Adventure Trail package, expect cargo net climbing. To try rafting or tubing, pick the Lantern Tour, which begin during dusk. For bigger adventurers and sport enthusiasts, expect to try mountain biking, rock climbing, or rappelling. If nothing more, then just go camping on the grounds.
15. Cohoes Falls, Cahoes :
Saratoga Springs, another of New York’s most scenic towns, is home to the beautiful Cohoes Falls. Crowning over the Mohawk River, this majestic cascade is 1000ft wide and 180ft tall.
Right near the Harmony Mills the ‘view park’ from where you’ll be offered the most stellar vistas of the water’s crashing journey. At Mohawk Street is a 192-foot pedestrian bridge on the upper level, and right below it is a viewing deck. Around the park, you’ll find plenty of things to do. Filled with picnic spots, fishing platforms and even an amphitheater, your trip here will be no less than pleasing.
16. Indian Brooks Falls, Phillipstown :
If you’re in search of falls that are more isolated with serene natural, Indian Brook Falls is the ideal spot. Commonly known to locals, this beautiful cascade is located deep in the woods of Phillipstown.
Only a short walk from the road, follow the direction properly to avoid getting lost, and soon you’ll be welcomed by the photographic sight.
The water pours down from a narrow mossy gorge, before streaming through a rocky water bed. So it’s not the best for swimming, and you must also be careful as it’s a typical habitat for snakes.
Before planning your trip, make sure to include at least a few of these best waterfalls in New York, if not all, to your itinerary. Otherwise, you’re journey is sure to remain incomplete. And you wouldn’t want that.