Must-see Waterfalls of the West (That You Can’t Get to By Car)
To get access to these spectacular waterfalls you have to hoof it, or in some cases, hop in a boat…
1) Deer Creek Falls, Grand Canyon National Park
Deer Creek Falls is located at mile 137 on the Colorado River and is a highlight of any Grand Canyon rafting trip. From the river, it’s less than a 100-foot hike to the crystal clear pool at the base of the 180-foot falls, but a short climb up a rocky trail offers spectacular narrows and rewarding views of the river. Backpackers can also access Deer Creek Falls via a 20-mile round-trip hike on the Thunder River Trail from the North Rim.
2) Indian Creek Falls, Canyonlands National Park
Indian Creek Falls is a seasonal (springtime only) waterfall located at mile 17 on the Colorado River in Meander Canyon. From the river, it’s a short 1.5-mile roundtrip hike to the 20-foot waterfall and some well-preserved granaries and rock art left behind by Ancestral Puebloans. Get soaked under the falls, take a dip in the pool below or join the group in a round of butt slides for a fun and revitalizing Cataract Canyon rafting trip side hike.
3) Nevada Falls, Yosemite National Park
From Happy Isles in Yosemite National Park, hikers can access this 594-foot waterfall on the Merced River near the west end of Little Yosemite Valley. It’s a fairly strenuous 6-mile hike to the top and back with 2,000 feet of elevation gain. During peak season there are hordes of tourists walking to the lower Vernal Falls, but the crowd thins out considerably as you continue to Nevada Falls and it’s worth the extra couple miles!
4) Stair Creek Falls, Rogue River, Siskiyou National Forest
At mile 55, Stair Creek Falls on Oregon’s Rogue River rafting trip is a gorgeous waterfall that cascades directly into a river alcove in the Mule Creek Canyon section of the river. It’s a great spot for a refreshing shower from the boat, or scramble up around the falls to take a dip in the pools above. Hikers can also access a spectacular view of the falls from the 40-mile Rogue River Trail on the opposite side of the river.
5) Veil Falls, Frank Church “River of No Return” Wilderness
Veil Falls at mile 81 on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River is a unique waterfall that plummets freely into a natural amphitheater from a high rock overhang. From the river, there’s a short, but steep path that leads to the base of the falls. The flow of water is truly spectacular in early season, and then diminishes in volume in late summer. There are pictographs on the walls of the amphitheater left by Sheepeater Indians centuries ago, which makes this an ideal place to hang out and relax for a while.