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Must-See New York State Waterfalls

Ithaca Falls, New York state waterfalls, trees, blue sky

The ultimate list of New York waterfalls

by John Haywood

New York state waterfalls are among the most diverse thanks to an ever-changing landscape. Thousands of waterfalls of all shapes and sizes are found across the Empire State. From the giants found at Niagara Falls State Park to the smaller roadside cascades that catch our eye as we drive along a scenic by-way, there are tons of “must-see” waterfalls in New York!
We’ll explore some the best waterfalls all of New York has to offer. We’ll take you to the famous ones, of course, but we’ll also show you some other waterfalls that are deserving of being on a waterfall bucket list as well! In addition to that, we’ll let you know about nearby waterfalls and some great local businesses and organizations that you can support along the way!

Strap in as we take you to some of the best “must see” waterfalls in New York state!

Click the names of each waterfall to be taken to its corresponding page where you’ll find more information, including maps that give driving directions and the five closest waterfalls to that location. You can also search up to 200 waterfalls within a defined radius to a location you enter.
  1. Niagara Falls – You can’t have a must see waterfall list without the iconic giants at Niagara Falls State Park. American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls are found here. The park also offers up close tours at cave of the Winds, and a boat ride on the Maid of the Mist which is on a bucket list of its own!

    American Falls, Niagara Falls, bucket list waterfalls

    American Falls with Bridal Veil Falls on the right

  2. Eternal Flame Falls – A well-known, but unique waterfall, that as the name implies, contains a flame from a natural gas spring.
  3. Salmon River Falls – A 110-foot monster of a waterfall on the Salmon River in Orwell. Look for the yearly salmon run in Pulaski the Fall when salmon return to spawn.
  4. Letchworth State Park – The amazing state park that boasts an incredible number of waterfalls at over 25! The three most notable are Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls that form on the Genesee River.
  5. Watkins Glen State Park – Home to 19 named waterfalls, Watkins Glen State Park is one of the most popular state parks, hosting over a million visitors a year. The iconic scene of Rainbow Falls and the stone bridge draw people from all around.
  6. Lucifer Falls – 115-foot Lucifer Falls is the centerpiece waterfall at Robert Treman State Park, and has become one of the iconic New York state waterfalls. Be sure to visit Buttermilk Falls at Buttermilk Falls State Park which is close by.
  7. Taughannock Falls – The tallest single drop waterfall in New York at 215 feet, Taughannock Falls can be viewed from an overlook or from the gorge trail. It is not the only waterfall at this state park.

    Ithaca Falls, best New York state waterfalls, trees, blue sky, bucket list waterfalls

    Ithaca Falls

  8. Ithaca Falls – It’s only fair this 150-foot giant on Fall Creek in Ithaca is on the list! Also known as Fall Creek Falls, this is the final waterfall on the creek before it reaches its terminus at Cayuga Lake. Triphammer, Rocky, Horseshoe, and Forest Falls also form on the creek and can be seen along the Fall Creek Gorge Trail. Do some shopping at Sunny Days of Ithaca then grab a bite to eat at the Ithaca Ale House (The “Perfect” Burger is just that!) while in town.
  9. Pratt’s Falls – A 137-foot hidden gem near US Route 20 in Pompey makes a great stop at Pratt’s Falls Park.
  10. Chittenango Falls – You can’t pass through Central New York without visiting Chittenango Falls State Park! The 167-foot star is a gorgeous two-tiered fall.
  11. Cohoes Falls – At one time, this massive cascade on the Mohawk River drew as much attention as Niagara Falls.
  12. Dionondahowa Falls – A short hike along the Batten Kill takes you to a big waterfall. The 60-foot cascade is topped by a dam, but has a ton of character in the natural rock formations the water deflects from, and pours over on the way down!

    Split Rock Falls, must see waterfall, water, rock, trees

    Split Rock Falls

  13. Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park – The largest cave entrance in the eastern United States and waterfalls! Venture into Noisy Cave to see Noisy Cave Falls (talk about a must see waterfall!) then embark on an adventure tour! Be sure to check their website before planning a trip as they do close seasonally and at times of extremely high water.
  14. Split Rock Falls – A picturesque waterfall in a beautiful tree-lined setting on the Boquet River in Elizabethtown. The clear waters that flow over this multi-tiered cascade appear as an almost emerald green in the deep pools. Drive up to Keene Valley for a coffee or bite to eat at Old Mountain Coffee Company then visit The Mountaineer for all your hiking needs!
  15. Stag Brook Falls – Stag Brook Falls is itself a beautiful waterfall that sits at the head a small gorge, however, anyone who loves waterfalls will find a dream-come-true on the half-mile trail along the brook as numerous waterfalls of all shapes and sizes are found! A definite waterfall bucket list destination!

    Stag Brook Falls, best new york state waterfalls

    Stag Brook Falls

  16. Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm – The “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks” is home to 70-foot Rainbow Falls and a smaller Horseshoe Falls. The falls are visible from the bridge or on a self-guided tour of Ausable Chasm. Visit their website to learn about all the activities available there.
  17. Bog River Falls – Two sets of falls in a serene setting with a stone bridge and a view out over Tupper Lake make this a must-see stop. Stop by Hoss’s Country Corner in Long Lake to browse then head to ADK Trading Post for a panini and a drink to bring along for a waterside picnic!
  18. High Falls Park Campground – Camp for a bit or just stop by to see the 120-foot waterfall. The grounds are private, but they do allow guests to view the falls after they check in with the office.
  19. High Falls Philmont – A 150-foot waterfall nestled away in a small town is what “hidden gem” has come to mean! The High Falls Conservation Area is also home to Agawamuck Falls which is just downstream from High Falls.
  20. Croton Gorge Park – The 80-foot falls form in the spillway by the massive New Croton Dam. The nearly 300-foot tall dam is a stunning sight on its own!

    New Croton Dam

    The falls and dam at Croton Gorge Park

  21. River Park Falls -Waterfalls in New York City?! The Bronx River say yes! A handful of waterfalls form between the Bronx Zoo, Botanical Garden, and River Park! visit the Bronx River Alliance for more information about the Bronx River and the good work they do.
  22. Kaaterskill Falls – Another iconic New York state waterfall, this 231-foot multi-tiered waterfall is a towering must-see. At the lower trailhead, you’ll encounter Bastion Falls, an impressive 70-foot roadside cascade!
  23. Awosting Falls – A true bucket list destination not only for this 60-foot waterfall, but the number of other great waterfalls nearby, and the incredible views from Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserve. Loads of hiking trails and scenic overlooks await!

For more must see New York State waterfalls, visit our interactive New York state waterfall map.

PLEASE NOTE: All properties should be considered posted and/or private property unless you have specific knowledge otherwise. Access to any waterfall or natural area of any category is a privilege and can be revoked at any time for any reason. Respect landowner rights, speak out should you witness anyone doing otherwise and educate everyone willing to listen about good environmental stewardship and the Leave No Trace (LNT) ideology. Please use our New York State Waterfall Map responsibly.
Dig The Falls would like all site visitors to take the greatest precautions when visiting any location listed herein. Although there are some locations that fall within park systems, there are many more that do not and are considered very dangerous to visit. ALL outdoor locations can be considered dangerous. In visiting this website you are agreeing to release Dig The Falls of any liability from any visitations to any of the locations listed on the website as a whole.
Outdoor recreational activities are, by their very nature, potentially hazardous and contain risk. Locations, trails, and waterfalls listed on this site, and conditions, accuracy, and safety, cannot be guaranteed. You are hiking and visiting these locations at your own risk and at your own will.

Safety

Some waterfalls have a reputation for being dangerous. While terrain and trail conditions can make any waterfall hazardous, ALMOST every accident at waterfalls can be avoided.

By following a few pointers and exercising diligence and common sense, a trip to a waterfall can be a lasting memory rather than a tragedy.

  • Waterfalls, by their very nature, are a draw for people to climb on, swim near, or jump from. If you decide to jump (please—never dive!) into an inviting pool at a waterfall, it is imperative that you first check out the water for unseen objects. Trees, branches, and other debris can wash downstream and become lodged under the water’s surface, creating an unseen and deadly hazard. Large trees, boulders, and even debris like rope or netting can ensnare someone, with disastrous consequences.
  • When water levels are high and waterfalls really get going, there will be not only be an increase in the power of the current, but an increase in foam and aeration (air bubbles in the water) as the water shoots down into the pool from above. This aerated water does not afford the same resistance that swimmers are used to when they try to pull themselves up or out.

Increased water circulation and the force of the onrushing current can also push swimmers into or under underwater ledges, giving no chance for escape. Many swimmers have perished because they underestimated the power of moving water. Do not swim when conditions even look dangerous. Chances are, they are.

  • Do not get too close to the edge of the waterfall’s precipice. Too many people have fallen to their deaths by trying to get a better look or by getting that photo or selfie. NO PHOTOGRAPH OR “SELFIE” IS WORTH YOUR LIFE.

If signs are posted, pay close attention and do not go where they tell you not to. They are there for a reason. Just because you may see others doing things that they shouldn’t be doing doesn’t mean it’s allowed. Instagram stardom doesn’t count if you’re dead.

  • Be mindful of your surroundings. If you are in a gorge or area with high walls, look around for potentially hazardous objects that might fall. Nothing should be discounted here. Boulders, trees, and blocks of ice can break loose from above and come crashing down. When in doubt, make the safe call.
  • Crossing high and/or turbulent water should only be done if you are properly equipped to do so and have an exit plan if you should get swept off your feet.
  • Wear proper footwear; something with good traction and support that will help prevent slipping. If visiting a waterfall in the winter, wear micro-spikes or other traction devices to keep you from slipping on ice.
  • Wear proper clothing at all times. When wet, cotton and denim will remain damp for prolonged periods, potentially leading to hypothermia (a dangerous cooling down of the body), even in moderate weather.
  • Always carry a flashlight, headlamp, or other form of lighting in case your hike goes on longer than you had planned, and it gets dark. Don’t rely on a cell phone flashlight.
  • Always respect posted and private property, and practice “carry in, carry out” with any trash you may have made from wrappers or bottles.
  • Take note that many of these hikes would be considered “difficult” or “moderate” to the average hiker. Participants should be aware of their own abilities, and of the risks associated with outdoor activities. Preparation is vital.
  • Those who plan on hiking to any of these waterfalls should make the necessary preparations and consult the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) website at www.dec.ny.gov for bulletins, weather alerts, and other important information.
  • Using drugs and/or alcohol is not recommended when visiting waterfalls, as impaired abilities can lead to accidents.
Adirondack Mountain Club LOGO Green

The Adirondack Mountain Club works across the state to promote stewardship and education. Please visit their website to learn more about the good work they do and the programs they offer.

No promotional considerations or compensations were given for the businesses named in this article. We are proud to support small, and local business. Plus, we’ve been there and love them!
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