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The 20 Best State Parks with Waterfalls in the U.S.

Niagara Falls State Park, New York

Many people love to explore the outdoors and enjoy the unique natural landmarks in the locations they visit. Across the United States, there is a multitude of interesting and beautiful places to visit as the landscapes in this country are diverse. In each location, there is something different to see. One natural feature that people enjoy is waterfalls, and there are some magnificent waterfalls to see in the state parks. Here are the 20 best state parks with waterfalls in the U.S.

Pattison State Park, Wisconsin

20. Pattison State Park, Wisconsin

Pattison State Park in Wisconsin is home to Big Manitou Falls. As the waterfall tumbles 165 feet into the Black River below, it is the tallest waterfall in the state. From the base, you will not immediately see the waterfall as it is obscured by trees. However, there are many trails around the waterfall that have vantage points that give you a better view.

Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia

19. Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia

There are many waterfalls within the mountains of West Virginia, but one of the most impressive is found in Blackwater Falls State Park. The Blackwater Falls stand proud at 57 feet, crashing into a pool below. They have got their name because tannins from the spruce and hemlock trees have stained the water a dark color. There are many challenging trails with rugged terrain in the landscape surrounding the waterfall, and there are also some easier walking paths for the less adventurous.

Falling Springs Falls State Park, Virginia

18. Falling Springs Falls State Park, Virginia

Virginia is one of the states that has plenty of beautiful waterfalls to see, and one of the top locations for seeing these natural landmarks is Falling Springs Falls State Park. Set in the rolling hills of the Alleghany Highlands, Falling Springs Falls is a magnificent cascade with an 80-foot plunge. There is a viewing area above the falls where visitors can watch and photograph the powerful waterfall descending into the pool below. Once, visitors could also hike past the falls, but closer access is now restricted for safety reasons.

Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania

17. Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania

Ricketts Glen is a 13,050-acre state park that features no less than 22 waterfalls. Therefore, it is a waterfall enthusiast’s paradise. One of the most spectacular falls in the park is Ganoga Falls, which is a 94-foot, multi-layered cascade that tumbles through a forest on a hillside. If you follow the Falls Trail through Ricketts Glen State Park, then you will see most of the 22 waterfalls. It is important to wear appropriate footwear as many of the paths are slippery.

Gorges State Park, North Carolina

16. Gorges State Park, North Carolina

North Carolina is home to multiple magical waterfalls, including Looking Glass Falls, Skinny Dip Falls, Elk River Falls, and Whitewater Falls. One of the best places to see some pretty waterfalls is at Gorges State Park, which is in Sapphire, Transylvania County, North Carolina. One of the top sights on the edge of this state park is Turtleback Falls, which has rounded rocks in the shape of a turtle shell, over which the water cascades 20-feet into the pool below. Visitors enjoy sliding down the rocks into the plunge pool. Another beautiful waterfall to see in this park is the150-foot Rainbow Falls and the pretty Hidden Falls.

Watkins Glen State Park, New York

15. Watkins Glen State Park, New York

At Watkins Glen State Park in New York, you will find 19 waterfalls, including the Rainbow Falls. Watkins Glen is in the Finger Lakes Region, and it was created by an ancient stream that created a gorge surrounded by 200-foot cliffs and rocks. The landscape around the gorge features natural bridges, stairs, and tunnels formed in the tocks. These natural rock pathways and tunnels take you under Rainbow Falls.
Buttermilk Falls State Park, New Jersey

14. Buttermilk Falls State Park, New Jersey

The Buttermilk Falls are in Buttermilk Falls State Park, New Jersey, close to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. To reach the falls, you will go down a bumpy road to a small parking lot. The falls cascade down the side of the mountain at the start of the trail. There are then steps up to the top of the mountain that connects the path with the Appalachian Trail. If you want to see the waterfall during its peak flow, then visit during the spring.

Grand Portage State Park, Minnesota

13. Grand Portage State Park, Minnesota

Minnesota is known for its sensational scenery, and one of the state’s most picturesque locations is at Grand Portage State Park. The tallest waterfall in the park is the 120-foot High Falls, which sits close to the Canadian border. There is a short, accessible, paved trail next to the waterfall, and other trails run throughout the park, including one along the Pigeon River.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Michigan

12. Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Michigan

Tahquamenon Falls are unusual as the water is an amber color. It is because the water becomes stained by the tannins in the surrounding spruce, cedar, and hemlock trees. The color of the water has given the falls the nickname of ‘root beer falls.’ Tahquamenon Falls is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and its falls are powerful, as more than 50,000 gallons of water per second crash into the pool below during peak flow. A unique feature of the park is that it has a brewery and a pub on-site.

Rocks State Park, Maryland

11. Rocks State Park, Maryland

An easy half-mile hike into Rocks State Park takes you to its Falling Branch area, which is where you will find Kilgore Falls. It is a relatively small waterfall that drops a mere 17-feet into the plunge pool below. However, the fact that it is smaller is also an advantage for visitors. While larger waterfalls are more powerful and mean it is dangerous to swim in the waters below, the less ferocious nature of Kilgore Falls means that swimming in the plunge pool is a popular activity for visitors to the park.

Cumberland Falls State Park, Kentucky

10. Cumberland Falls State Park, Kentucky

It is possible for visitors to Cumberland Falls State Park to see the waterfalls from the trails running through the park. The waterfall is wide, at 125-feet, and the curtain of water drops 60-feet into a large pool below. Another reason to visit this park is to witness a natural phenomenon called a ‘moonbow.’ The phenomenon occurs when the moonlight reflects off water droplets to create a lunar rainbow. It only happens on clear nights. Cumberland State Falls Park in Kentucky is one of only a handful of locations where this phenomenon occurs reliably.

Big Clifty Falls State Park, Indiana

9. Big Clifty Falls State Park, Indiana

Due to the agricultural nature of the landscape in most parts of Indiana, it is not the first state that springs to mind when thinking of locations with beautiful waterfalls. However, there are some hidden gems in this state, including the four waterfalls at Clifty Falls State Park in Southern Indiana. The largest of these is the Big Clifty cascades, which have several smaller tiers before plunging 60 feet over the edge of a cliff. It is at its most powerful during the springtime and then becomes little more than a trickle during the fall.

Starved Rock State Park Falls, Illinois

8. Starved Rock State Park Falls, Illinois

The Illinois River runs through Starved Rock State Park, and there is a series of 18 canyons along its banks. Fourteen of the canyons feature waterfalls, so there are plenty of falls to enjoy at this location. One of the most impressive is the waterfall that plunges into St. Louis Canyon, and the best time to see it is either after heavy rainfall or in the spring. Another great time to visit is during the winter, as the waterfalls form magical ice formations. There are trails running alongside the canyons and waterfalls, but there are a lot of stairs.

Baxter State Park, Maine

7. Baxter State Park, Maine

Baxter State Park is part of the 100-Mile Wilderness in Maine, and it is located close to the northern endpoint of the Appalachian Trail. Within the park is a 400-foot deep gorge called Gulf Hagas, and there are four waterfalls running into the gorge. The most famous and spectacular of the four waterfalls is Billings Falls, and for many, it is one of the highlights of a visit to this state park. There is a slippery trail around the rim of the gorge that leads to Billings Falls, and there are several swimming holes along the way.
Falling Waters State Park Falls, Florida

6. Falling Waters State Park Falls, Florida

Reader’s Digest lists Falling Waters State Park Falls in Florida as one of the best state parks with waterfalls in the U.S. The main waterfall plunges 73-feet into a sinkhole before disappearing into an underwater cavern. Visitors can walk across boardwalks that give them fantastic views of the falls, and the best time to see them is during heavy rain. There are a further 11 sinkholes within the park, all of which are millions of years old. This park also has a lake for swimming and fishing and a campground for those who want to spend the night.

Palouse Falls State Park, Washington

5. Palouse Falls State Park, Washington

The Palouse Falls was formed more than 13,000 years ago, and it is one of the last remaining waterfalls that was formed by the glacial floods of the Ice Age. It is the official state falls of Washington and is an impressive sight, as it drops 200-feet down to a winding canyon. There are easy hiking trails where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the falls and the surrounding landscape.

Letchworth State Park, New York

4. Letchworth State Park, New York

Letchworth State Park is in Castile, New York. Central to the park is a gorge through which a river runs. Along the river, there are three large waterfalls. In addition to seeing the waterfalls, people go to the river to swim, fish, and kayak. There are also multiple trails for hiking and horseback riding within the park, and these are used for skiing, snow tubing, and snowmobiling. The park also has a designated area for hunting, although you will need a park permit and a valid license.

Akaka Falls State Park, Hawaii

3. Akaka Falls State Park, Hawaii

Hawaii is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the United States, so there are plenty of falls to see when you visit this state. One of the most magnificent is Akaka Falls, which is in the state park of the same name. It drops more than 400-feet, crashing against the rocks to the water below. There is also a nearby waterfall called Kahuna Falls. It is possible to see both waterfalls from the hiking trail along Hilo Coast. The trail runs through the lush rainforest that is filled with colorful plants and an array of wildlife.

Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee

2. Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee

Falls Creek Falls State Park is one of the best state parks in the U.S. for seeing waterfalls. The park's main feature is Falls Creek Falls, which is the tallest free-fall waterfall on the east coast at 256 feet. However, there are many more waterfalls and cascades within the park, along with gorges, streams, and hardwood forests. There are multiple hiking trails throughout the park, and many of these have overlooks with spectacular views across the park.

Niagara Falls State Park, New York

1. Niagara Falls State Park, New York

Attractions of America lists Niagara Falls State Park in New York as one of the best state parks with a waterfall in the U.S. It is the oldest state park in the country, and it attracts millions of visitors each year. It is home to the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls, including American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Canadian Falls. There are boat tours that run along the bottom of the waterfalls and past the caves that sit beneath them. Other popular activities include viewing the falls from the observation tower and hiking along the trails.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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