I visited Yellowstone National Park five years ago, and yet I’m just now getting to one of the major features of the park, Lower Yellowstone Falls. Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls are stunningly beautiful, and they’re definitely worth seeking out if you’re in the park.
With Old Faithful and so many other geysers, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the wildlife, it can be difficult to choose what to do. And you should plan enough time to visit all of them. But you should also plan to visit a number of waterfalls, and if you only have time for a few, the falls on the Yellowstone River are probably the best to choose. The scenery around the falls is amazing.
The falls are very easy to get to and visit. They can be accessed just south of Canyon Village. From the North Rim Drive, Inspiration Point, Grandview Point and Lookout Point all give different views of the Lower Falls. From the South Rim Drive, Artists Point gives a view of the Lower Falls. As a waterfall fan, I believe I stopped at a number of these viewpoints since each stop is unique. Uncle Tom’s Trail is found on the South Rim, and that also leads down to a view of the falls. I did not do that, as I’m not a big fan of stairs/heights. No matter what, you’ll be able to find a wonderful view of the falls.
Canyon Village is found at the intersection of Norris Canyon Road and Grand Loop Road.
From that intersection, head south on Grand Loop Road, drive approximately 2 miles and you’ll find the N Rim Drive and S Rim Drive. Choose which viewpoint you want to visit, and that will help decide whether you want the North Rim or South Rim.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: variable, but often negligible
If you visit Iceland, and you explore outside of Reykjavík, you’ll likely end up on the Ring Road. If you take one of the tour buses to visit major attractions, many of them will head toward Skógafoss, which is one of the many stunning waterfalls in Iceland, and is extremely easy to visit. What I didn’t know the first time I visited Iceland in 2012 was that there was another waterfall about 1 mile away.
Kvernufoss isn’t as large or as exciting, but if you’re looking to get away from the crowds, and you can, Kvernufoss is the waterfall for you. Reaching the falls is a bit more adventurous, in that there are some unique steps. The start of the hike is near the Skógar Museum, but instead of stopping there, you pass the museum and some other buildings, and park at the end of that road near some abandoned farm equipment. Head east from that parking lot along the paths that have shown up. At some point, you’ll reach a wire fence that has been set to keep the sheep in/out. At the right spot, there should be a stepladder that you can use to safely cross over the fence. My sister was rather pregnant at this time, so it was interesting! After crossing that fence, it is pretty smooth sailing in terms of finding the falls. Follow the path toward the river/creek, and then once you reach the creek, turn north and follow the river upstream. That’s where Kvernufoss is!
The hike isn’t bad, but for the second half of the hike, it does climb uphill, and it can be a bit slippery, so wear appropriate shoes. You’ll likely have the trail to yourself. We ran into just a few other people. It’s a much quieter waterfall than Skógafoss, but it is also beautiful!
From the Ring Road, head toward Skógar, which is hard to miss because of the waterfall. If heading east, you’ll turn left toward the village.
Instead of heading toward Skógafoss, follow signs for the Skógar Museum. You’ll turn right at some point to arrive at the museum. Then follow the directions above.
Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Length of Hike: 0.75 miles round-trip
Just inside the boundary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Bryson City, North Carolina are three waterfalls that can be seen in a not-so-difficult hike. Tom Branch Falls, Juney Whank Falls, and Indian Creek Falls can be found by starting at the Deep Creek Trail head. I think the trail continues on, but you can see all three falls within a 2 mile or so hike.
Tom Branch Falls is the first waterfall you’ll encounter, and you don’t have to hike the whole 2 miles to see Tom Branch Falls. The hike to Tom Branch Falls is only about 1/4 of a mile one-way, and the elevation gain is minimal. I remember the trail being rather flat up until this point. It does then change more in elevation to see the other two falls. I think I showed up when there wasn’t as much water flowing over Tom Branch Falls, so the other two falls were more exciting, even though they required a longer hike to view.
There isn’t one specific set of directions that will get you to the falls. It all depends on where you start. So head toward Bryson City, which is not far from US-19 or US-74.
Route 1337 (W Deep Creek Road) is the most direct way to lead to the trail head. It is off of 1336 (Old River Road), which is on the north side of the Tuckasegee River.
Drive 2.5 miles along Route 1337, W Deep Creek Road. Pass a number of other parking areas, and park in the Deep Creek Trail head parking area.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip
I thought I would have written about Feather Falls already. The adventure getting to Feather Falls was definitely interesting, to say the least. Though once I had finally reached Feather Falls, it was definitely worth it!
I probably didn’t pay attention as much to the directions about the loop trail that exists, even as I’m reading it now. Realize there is an upper loop trail at 4.5 miles to the falls, and a lower loop trail at 3.5 miles to the falls. As many people probably think, let’s choose the shorter portion since it will be quicker. It is not, very simply. It is actually much more difficult to hike, at least when I visited in early March 2016. The lower loop trail seems to be constant up and down, and I would describe that trail as more “rustic”. It had been raining significantly the days before I arrived at the falls, and so the lower loop trail became very muddy, and in some parts had essentially a small but steady stream of water flowing downhill. I was soaked and muddy after doing the lower loop portion first. To get to the viewpoint for Feather Falls, you then steadily climb uphill, though it’s rather short. Unluckily, my knee decided to buckle and there was some definite pain, and I still had to return to the parking area. Luckily, I wasn’t injured where I couldn’t get back.
If I were to go on this hike again, I would absolutely recommend using the upper loop trail for the whole hike. There wasn’t any view on the lower loop trail that was remotely worth the difficulty. The upper loop trail was much more enjoyable, even with a knee in pain.
Once you reach the falls, as I mentioned, the whole hike becomes absolutely worth it. At 410′ tall, Feather Falls is stunningly beautiful. The scenery and geology around the falls is amazing. You definitely feel like you’ve entered Yosemite National Park (which isn’t really wildly far away.) So even though it might be a moderate/strenuous hike, it’s still a hike you should do if you love waterfalls!
I stayed in Oroville. If starting from Oroville, head east on CA-162. Drive 4-6 miles on CA-162 east, depending on where you start in Oroville.
Turn right on Forbestown Road, and drive for 6 miles.
Turn left onto Lumpkin Road and drive 11 miles.
Turn left onto Bryant Ravine Road and drive just under 2 miles to the trail head.
Choose which part of the loop you want to hike, and head to the falls.
Accesibility: 4/10 (Moderate/Strenuous)
Length of Hike: 7.4 to 9.8 miles round-trip
So many of the waterfalls in western Norway (the fjords area around Bergen) can be viewed without any hike required. I viewed 22 waterfalls when I was there in 2015, and only 5 of them required any hiking. Tjørnadalsfossen (sometimes Tjødnadalsfossen) is one that does require some hiking. And it’s absolutely worth it.
Tjørnadalsfossen is not far outside of Odda. In that same vicinity, you can see Strondsfossen, Vidfoss, Låtefossen, and Espelandsfossen without any hiking. But Tjørnadalsfossen, as I said, though, is definitely worth the hike. You can’t see the falls from the start of the trail, and it’s only about 0.3 miles before you reach the falls, but suddenly, you’ll catch a glimpse of the falls, and they’re absolutely breathtaking. At 1657′, they almost reached into the clouds!
The hike isn’t particularly difficult. I found it to be moderately easy. I believe it does climb a bit uphill, but the hike is short, as I mentioned. If you’re in the area, and you’re looking for waterfalls, Tjørnadalsfossen is absolutely required (along with all of the other waterfalls in Norway!).
From the town of Odda, drive appoximately 5.5 kilometers south along Røldalsvegen-13 (Rv-13).
If you’re headed south, the parking area for the falls will be on your left.
Park and start the hike to the falls.
Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip
Clifty Falls State Park in Indiana (right near the Kentucky border) has four waterfalls that are 60+’ tall. It’s actually an impressive sight, as your brain may not associate Indiana with waterfalls, or especially tall waterfalls. The tallest waterfall in the park, at 83′, is Tunnel Falls.
I’m not sure what the perfect time to show up at the park is. I went in March 2014 and it had rained a bit, so most of the falls were at least running in the park. I noticed, though, that many of the falls are partially blocked by trees, so sometime when the trees don’t have leaves might be best. Now, there are a number of trails that lead to the base of some of the falls, but some of these hikes are long and/or strenuous, so I didn’t do any of those hikes (or wasn’t very successful at finding the trails). So you can view the four falls with shorter hikes, but you just won’t be able to guarantee the greatest of views. It’s still worth a visit if you’re in the area.
There are two entrances to the park, and both are found between Hanover and Madison. The north entrance is off of IN-62. The south entrance is off of IN-56. Both will get you to the waterfalls, as the road loops around the park.
The north entrance will get you to the viewpoint for Tunnel Falls slightly quicker. (If you are heading east along IN-62, you would turn right into the park at the north entrance.)
If I remember correctly, there are pretty clear signs for each of the falls. There may be two parking areas that you can view Tunnel Falls, with one on the north side (Hickory Grove), and one on the south side directly opposite. I think the photo below is from the south parking area.
Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip
Many of the waterfalls I visited in Wales required some hiking. Rhaeadr Dyserth was one of the few waterfalls that didn’t require any hiking (beyond getting closer to the falls). So while it’s in a cute little city and does require a bit of driving out of the way to see the falls, it’s worth it for the quick viewing opportunities (though the hikes in Wales were stunning).
Getting to the falls isn’t particularly difficult, though it is very easy to miss the parking area for the falls (and the parking area is rather small), though it isn’t wildly difficult to track backwards. From there, you can see the falls, but you can also walk a little bit closer to get a much better view. I believe there was a request for payment to enter the park, though I don’t remember how much. The paved path to the falls is beautiful, though there were a lot of little bugs flying around! It’s a quick stop to photograph the falls. While you’re there, check out the walls…no one is really sure where the walls are from.
Head toward Dyserth, Wales.
From A5151 (High Street in the town), turn right onto B5119 (Waterfall Road).
The falls will be on your right, with the parking area to the north of the falls.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: negligible