Chasing Waterfalls Across the US in 2021

2021 was definitely a better travel year than 2020. It was a great year to explore more of my own country, since there were no restrictions to travel within the US. To be on the safer side, I tried to take trips that involved lots of outdoor activities and when looking back at them, I realized I saw a lot of waterfalls during my travels this year. From east coast to west coast and in 5 different states, there was plenty of waterfall viewing and hiking in 2021.

Here are all the beautiful waterfalls I saw in 2021:

Great Falls Park in Virginia: In April, I headed to West Virginia to run a half marathon. I flew into Washington DC on Earth Day and knew I needed to make a stop on my ride to West Virginia to spend some time outside in nature to celebrate the day. I had also recently purchased an America the Beautiful National Park Pass, so I did a search to see what parks I could stop at on the way to West Virginia. That is when I found Great Falls Park located just a half hour from Washington DC in Virginia.

Great Falls Park

The falls are located on the Potomac River and can be viewed from both the Virginia and Maryland sides of the river. They are made up of multiple 20-foot waterfalls and cascading rapids with a total drop of 76 feet. At the park there are three different overlooks to view the falls from different angles. For the adventurous people it’s a great place to kayak the class II to V rapids, for us non-adventurous types like me, it’s a lot of fun to just watch the kayakers! There are also 15 miles of hiking trails and plenty of picnic areas for the whole family to enjoy. To learn more, check out my post on Great Falls Park.

Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia: From Virginia, I drove over to the northeast corner of the “mountain state” of West Virginia to visit Canaan Valley. One of the biggest attractions in the Canaan Valley is Blackwater Falls State Park.

Blackwater Falls

The 57 foot tall Blackwater Falls can be seen inside Blackwater Falls State Park. They can be viewed from two different viewing platforms. The closest platform involves a boardwalk and 200 steps down to the falls. At this platform you are quite close to the falls, so it’s definitely worth the walk down. For a more accessible platform, you can drive to the other side of the park to take the very short .02 paved Gentle Trail for a view of the falls from a further distance.

Besides the falls, Blackwater Falls State Park also offers 20 different hiking trails, swimming, fishing, boating, camping sites and even cabins. It’s the perfect outdoor location. For the winter lovers, it has the longest sled run on the east coast of the United States. To learn more about the park and the nearby area, check out my post on the Canaan Valley.

Idaho Falls, Idaho: Next up I headed west at the end of May/beginning of June for a trip to some National Parks. The first stop on my way to Yellowstone from Salt Lake City was the town of Idaho Falls, Idaho. The Snake River runs thru Idaho Falls and it was the rapids along the river that inspired the name of the town in 1891. Years later, a hydro-electric dam was built on the Snake River creating the man-made waterfalls in Idaho Falls. The waterfalls are along the River Walk which is a great area, not just for waterfall viewing, but also for picnics, walking and running.

Idaho Falls

Yellowstone National Park: After Idaho Falls, I continued north to the first National Park in the US, Yellowstone National Park. While Yellowstone is known mostly for its wildlife and hydrothermal features, it also features 100s of waterfalls, 45 of which are named. With so much to see and do in Yellowstone, I barely scratched the surface when it came to waterfall viewing, but I definitely saw some beautiful ones.

Yellowstone Falls

If you are looking for one must see waterfalls in the park, Yellowstone Falls is a must! Located in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, this impressive waterfall includes and upper and lower portion which can be seen from many different viewpoints, including the famous Artist Point viewpoint.

Yellowstone Falls as seen from Artist Point

You can even take a short hike down to the brink of the lower falls portion. This hike is suitable for the whole family and will be a very busy trail. The view will definitely make dealing with the crowds worth it though. They say to try and get there in the morning to see a rainbow, but I visited in late afternoon and was able to see a beautiful rainbow in the canyon at the bottom of the falls.

Along with Yellowstone Falls, I also saw Gibbon Falls and Lewis Falls while in Yellowstone, although both were smaller, they made for a great quick stop to break up the long drives while traveling from place to place in Yellowstone.

If you would like to learn more about these waterfalls and more to do in the park, make sure to check out my Yellowstone Park post.

Grand Teton National Park: Located south of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is Grand Teton National Park. The only accessible waterfall in the park is Hidden Falls. This waterfall is located near Jenny Lake, which is a must-see spot in the park. To reach Hidden Falls, you can either take a ferry across the lake or hike the Jenny Lake Loop Trail, which is 7.6 miles roundtrip. Once you reach the ferry dock, you can take the one-mile roundtrip moderate hike to Hidden Falls. This hike is family friendly only gaining 200 feet of elevation. The 100-foot Hidden Falls are stunning! Since I visited in late spring, the falls were quite strong from the annual snowmelt.

Hidden Falls in Grand Teton National Park

From Hidden Falls, you can continue on for another one-mile roundtrip hike with 300 feet of elevation to Inspiration Point for beautiful views of Jenny Lake. This was the final waterfall I discovered on my National Park trip this summer.

To learn about more to see check out my Grand Teton National Park post and my Jackson Hole post for more to do just outside the park.

Historic Columbia River Highway in Oregon: This fall I headed west again to the state of Oregon. Located a half hour east of downtown Portland, is the National Historic Landmark, the Historic Columbia River Highway. This was the first scenic highway planned in the United States and located along this scenic highway is a 13-mile stretch known as “waterfall alley”. These waterfalls are fairly accessible from the highway, making them great for the whole family to see.

Latourell Falls

For those looking for more than just waterfall viewing, there are many hiking trails that will take you closer to the falls, both short and long trails make it a great area for all different hiking abilities.

Bridal Veil Falls

The waterfalls get pretty busy, leading to traffic on the roadway and full parking lots during the busy times of year. For this reason, thru the summer and early fall, they offer a Waterfall Trolley to make your waterfall viewing along the Historic Columbia River Highway less stressful.

The most popular of the waterfalls along the Historic Columbia River Highway is Multnomah Falls. This 620-foot two-tier waterfall is the most visited natural attraction in the Pacific Northwest. It’s quite the site to see and even on a rainy day in late October it was very busy with lots of traffic and full parking lots.

Multnomah Falls

While these waterfalls are beautiful to visit all year long, when I visited in late October at the peak of the fall foliage season, they were just stunning as was all of the scenery along the Historic Columbia River Highway. If you would like to read more, check out my post on the Historic Columbia River Highway. Chances are you probably will fly in and out of Portland and this city is worth checking out, for a full city tour and a great way to replenish the calories you burned hiking the waterfalls, check out my post on the Donut Tour in Portland.

Do you have any favorite waterfalls you visited in 2021? I’m looking forward to exploring new waterfalls in the United States and maybe even other parts of the world in 2022.

Happy New Year, here’s to an even better 2022 than 2021!

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29 thoughts on “Chasing Waterfalls Across the US in 2021

  1. So beautiful! I wish I had explored more of the Virginia/West Virginia region when I was in school there. Your photo of Yellowstone Falls from Artist Point is amazing. Which was your favorite?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Who doesn’t love a good waterfall? Lools like you’ve visited quite a few last year! Looking at your pics I especially liked the ones taken in autumn with all colorful trees in the background.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. They all look so beautiful, but wow, Yellowstone Falls is really something else, isn’t it? Looks like you found some really incredible places last year, I can’t wait to check out some of these and some of the national parks that a lot of them are in

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I must admit that we too did a lot of chasing waterfalls in 2021 although all of our waterfalls were in Canada. I love the variety in the waterfalls you saw. I can just imagine how great they were in person. Definitely a few to add to our list for U.S. travels.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Everywhere we visit, we make sure to see a waterfall closeby. This post is perfect for many places we plan to go, like Teton. What a great year of waterfalls!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What an excellent collection you amassed this year. Few things in nature are as cool as waterfalls. Yellowstone falls is surely the most picturesque, but they are all stunning.

    Like

  7. We love chasing waterfalls on our vacations. Multnomah Falls looks just incredible! Would love to sit on that bridge and just listen to the water crashing below!

    Liked by 1 person

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