The term “the city that never sleeps” is indeed fitting pinned on the city of New York. Not only is it the most populous city in the United States, but New York is also a metropolitan center and a global city that is in the spotlight of the world. This city, dominated by skyscrapers, also has the busiest pedestrian path in the world.
But make no mistake, New York also has amazing natural beauty, namely beautiful waterfalls that are highly recommended for you to visit. The beautiful panorama and fresh water are guaranteed to be effective in relieving fatigue from the bustle of the city. So, here is a list of the 14 Best Waterfalls in New York to add to your vacation itinerary.
Best Waterfalls in New York
1. Niagara Falls, Buffalo
Of course, this place needs no introduction as it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations, not just in New York but the world. They say that over 12 million people come to see Niagara Falls every year. And it’s easy to see why. The power and beauty of the falls are something that has to be seen to be believed.
Niagara Falls is located on the border of New York State and Ontario and is actually three different waterfalls: the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. All these falls are stunning in their own right. But if you had to pick just one, I recommend going to see Horseshoe Falls. This fall is the largest of the three and plunges over 180 feet. Over 150,000 gallons of water flow over the falls every second, which is just mind-blowing to think about. No wonder it has been named one of the natural wonders of the world.
The best way to experience the power of Niagara Falls is by taking a boat ride on the Maid of the Mist. This boat takes you right into the heart of the action and will get you soaked from the spray of the falls. But it’s an unforgettable experience and one you shouldn’t miss. Just be sure to bring a raincoat or poncho as you’ll need it.
Getting to Niagara Falls is pretty easy as it’s only an hour’s drive from Buffalo and 2 hours from Toronto. If you’re coming from New York City, it’s about an 8-hour drive.
2. Taughaannock Falls, Ulysses
This is one of the tallest waterfalls in New York State and my personal favorite. At 215 feet tall, it’s almost double the height of Niagara Falls. And what I love about this place is how secluded it is. You’ll likely have the falls all to yourself, which is a rarity for waterfalls as popular as this one.
Taughannock Falls is located in the Taughannock Falls State Park and is an easy hike to get to. The trail is only about 3/4 of a mile long and is considered to be easy. And to get the best views of the falls, I recommend hiking the Gorge and Rim trails. These trails will take you to the best lookout points, where you can see the falls in all their glory.
And being one of the best waterfalls in New York, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this place is popular in the summer. So if you want to avoid the crowds, I recommend visiting in the spring or fall when the leaves are changing color.
In addition to the falls, the park also has a sandy beach where you can go swimming in Cayuga Lake. There is also a camping ground if you want to spend a night or two in the park. I highly recommend it as it’s a great place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
3. Ok slip falls, Indian Lake
Next on my list of the best New York waterfalls is Ok Slip Falls. This place is a true hidden gem as it’s not well known, even among New Yorkers. In fact, when I first heard about it, I had to do a bit of research just to find out where it was.
But the effort was worth it as Ok Slip Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls you’ll ever see. It’s located in the Adirondacks and is one of the tallest waterfalls in the state, plunging over 250 feet.
The best way to experience Ok Slip Falls is by hiking the Ok Slip Falls Trail. This trail is a moderate difficulty and is about 6 miles round trip. But the views you’ll see along the way are worth it.
One of the best things about this hike is that it’s not crowded. You might see a few people here and there, but for the most part, you’ll have the place to yourself. And that’s always a bonus in my book.
I recommend hiking to the falls in the morning when the light is best for photography. But any time of day is really good as the views are stunning no matter where you go.
4. Rainbow Falls, Watkins Glen State Park
As the name suggests, Rainbow Falls is a waterfall that often has rainbows in the mist created by the falls. It’s one of the most photographed waterfalls in New York State, which is no surprise given its beauty.
Rainbow Falls is located in Watkins Glen State Park, which is one of the most popular state parks in New York. The park is best known for its 19 waterfalls, all of which are worth seeing. But Rainbow Falls is the star attraction.
This waterfall plunges over 60 feet, creating a powerful cascade that’s simply stunning. And when the sun shines, you will often see rainbows in the mist created by the waterfall. You can also walk behind the waterfall for a different perspective. But just be careful as the rocks can be slippery.
In addition to Rainbow Falls, Watkins Glen State Park is also home to Watkins Glen Gorge. This is a 1.5-mile-long gorge that has been carved out over the years and features 832 stone steps. It’s a popular hiking trail and one that you shouldn’t miss.
All in all, this is one of the best waterfalls in New York. And it’s a great place to spend a day or even a weekend. I suggest spending a day hiking the gorge and exploring all the falls. And if you can, try to visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
5. Eternal Flames Falls, Shale Creek Preserve
This is one of the unique New York waterfalls on this list, as it’s the only waterfall I know of that’s on fire. That’s right, on fire! This waterfall has a natural gas seepage in a cave near the bottom of the falls. This gas seeps out and ignites, making the waterfall appear to be on fire.
The best way to see the flames is around dusk, when it starts to get dark. That’s when the flames are the most visible. But even during the day, you can still see them if you look closely enough. I suggest using a long-exposure camera setting to really capture the flames in all their glory.
Eternal Flames Falls is located in Shale Creek Preserve which is part of the Erie County Parks system. The best way to get there is by taking the Scenic Drive from Buffalo, which will take you right to the falls.
Eternal Flames Falls is a pretty small waterfall as it’s only about 30 feet high. But it’s still a cool place to visit, especially if you’ve never seen anything like it before.
6. Chittenango Falls, Cazenovia
No list of the best waterfalls in New York would be complete without mentioning Chittenango Falls. This waterfall is located in the town of Cazenovia and is part of Chittenango Falls State Park. The waterfall is 167 feet tall and one of the most impressive in the state.
But what makes Chittenango Falls so special is the fact that it’s a multi-tiered waterfall. This means that there are not just one but two segments to the falls. The upper and lower section of the fall is made up of a series of smaller cascades that flow into a larger pool below.
The best way to experience the falls is by taking a short hike from the parking lot. The trail will take you to the base of the lower falls, where you will have an up close and personal view of the cascades. From here, you can also take the stairs to the top of the falls for a different perspective.
Just be sure to wear proper shoes and bring bug spray as the mosquitoes can be quite pesky. I had the unfortunate experience of getting bitten quite a few times when I visited. But despite that, Chittenango Falls is still one of my favorite waterfalls in New York.
7. Letchworth State Park, Castile
Often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park is one of the most popular state parks in New York. And it’s no surprise why. This 14,427-acre state park is home to the Genesee River, which flows through a deep gorge lined with cliffs and three stunning waterfalls.
The three waterfalls in Letchworth State Park are the Upper Falls, the Middle Falls, and the Lower Falls. The Middle Falls is the largest of the three, plunging over 107 feet. The Upper Falls is next, plunging over 70 feet. And the Lower Falls is the smallest, plunging over 50 feet.
In addition to the waterfalls, there are many other things to do in Letchworth State Park. You can go hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, and more. There’s also a hot air balloon festival that takes place in the park every year.
I toured Letchworth State Park in the summer, and it was absolutely beautiful. The waterfalls were flowing, and the weather was perfect for hiking. I recommend visiting this state park if you’re looking for a fun and scenic place to explore in New York.
8. Indian Brook Falls, Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve
This is one of the best waterfalls in New York that not many people know about. It’s located in the Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, which is a large park that spans over 8,000 acres.
The Hudson Highlands is a beautiful area to explore with plenty of hiking trails, rivers, and lakes. But the highlight is definitely Indian Brook Falls. This waterfall is located on Indian Brook, which is a small stream that flows into the Hudson River. The falls themselves are pretty tall, plunging over 40 feet.
What I love about this waterfall is that it’s easily accessible. The trail to the falls is about 0.4 miles long and is considered easy. So it’s perfect for families or those who don’t want to hike for hours to see a waterfall. However, the trail isn’t well maintained. So be prepared for “bushwacking” and wear appropriate shoes.
Indian Brook Falls is located in Cold Spring, about an hour’s drive from New York City. If you’re coming from further away, the closest airport is Stewart International Airport which is about a 30-minute drive away.
9. High Falls, Rochester
Rochester is best known as the home of Kodak and Wegmans. But the city also has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor recreation. And one of the best places to visit is High Falls.
High Falls is located in the center of Rochester and is the tallest waterfall on the Genesee River. The waterfall plunges over 96 feet and is absolutely stunning. There are several viewing platforms around the falls that give you different perspectives. And my favorite was the High Falls Terrace Platform, where I could see the entire waterfall.
But what makes High Falls even better is the Pont de Rennes Bridge that runs behind it. This bridge provides some of the best views of the waterfall and is also a great place to take photographs.
And since it’s located in the city, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby. This makes it the perfect place to visit for a day or even a weekend. I also recommend checking out the Public Market if you have time. It’s a great place to get some fresh food and sample some local cuisines.
10. Kaaterskill Falls, Hunter
Do you want to see one of the tallest New York falls? Then you need to head to Kaaterskill Falls. This 2-tiered waterfall is an absolutely stunning sight. And at 260 feet tall, it’s the tallest waterfall in the state.
The best way to see the falls is by taking one of the many trails that lead to them. I recommend the Kaaterskill Falls Trail, which is an easy 1.4-mile hike round trip. This trail will take you through the woods and several viewpoints of the falls. The best views are from the upper and lower viewing platforms. The upper platform gives you a stunning view of the entire falls, while the lower platform lets you get up close and personal with the falls.
Just be sure to use caution as the rocks can be slippery. Also, be aware that Kaaterskill Falls is a popular spot and can get very crowded on weekends, especially in the summer. If you want to avoid the crowds, I recommend visiting during the week or in the early morning.
Kaaterskill Falls is located about 2.5 hours from New York City, making it a great day trip from the city.
11. Ithaca Falls, Ithaca
If you find yourself in Ithaca, then you have to check out Ithaca Falls. This waterfall is located just a short walk from the center of town and is one of the most popular attractions in the area. In fact, you’ll notice a lot of bumper stickers around town that say “Ithaca is Gorges,” which is the city’s motto.
Ithaca Falls is a stunning waterfall that plunges 150 feet over a series of ledges. And at the bottom of the falls, you’ll find a large swimming hole popular with locals in the summer. Unfortunately, the swimming hole was packed with people when I visited, so I didn’t get to enjoy it.
But even if you don’t swim, the falls are still worth a visit. There’s a viewing platform at the top of the falls that gives you a great view of the entire waterfall. And there are also several trails in the area that are perfect for a short hike.
I had a great time exploring Ithaca Falls and would recommend it if you’re in the area. This is definitely one of the best waterfalls in New York that you won’t want to miss.
12. Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca
If there’s one waterfall that’s a must-see when visiting New York, it’s Buttermilk Falls. This cascading waterfall is one of the most beautiful and popular in the state.
Buttermilk Falls is located in Ithaca and is part of Buttermilk Falls State Park. And the best part about this place is that it’s easily accessible with a short hike from the parking lot.
The waterfall consists of 2 segments that plunge a total of 170 feet. And the ten cascades that make up the lower section of the falls are the most impressive. It’s also here where you will find the picturesque swimming hole that’s perfect for a summer day.
And because it’s located in a state park, there are plenty of hiking trails and other activities to do in the area. This makes it the perfect place to spend a day or even a weekend. However, if you visit on the weekend, be sure to arrive early as it gets crowded. And remember to wear proper shoes as the trails can be slippery when wet.
13. Cohoes Falls, Cohoes
Traveling northeast from Albany, you’ll come to the city of Cohoes, which is home to one of the best waterfalls in New York State, Cohoes Falls. This waterfall is located on the Mohawk River and plunges over 70 feet. It’s not the tallest waterfall in the state, but it is one of the widest, with a width of over 1,000 feet.
Cohoes Falls is best seen from the Cohoes Falls Viewing Platform, which is located near the harmony mills. This is a great place to take some pictures and just admire the beauty of the falls.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous experience, you can also hike to the base of the falls. But be warned, this isn’t an easy hike by any means. It’s steep and slippery in parts, so it’s not for everyone. But if you’re up for the challenge, the views from the bottom are definitely worth it.
The best time to visit Cohoes Falls is during the winter, when this waterfall is transformed into a stunning piece of art. It’s truly a sight to behold and one you won’t want to miss. Just be sure to bring plenty of snacks and drinks as there are no services at the falls.
14. Salmon River Falls, Oswego County
Salmon River Falls is one of the best-kept secrets in New York State, located in Salmon River Falls Unique Area. This 112-acre park is home to several waterfalls, including the main attraction, Salmon River Falls. The beauty of this waterfall is hard to resist as it plunges over 110 feet into a gorge below.
To reach the falls, you have to take a short hike (about a quarter mile long) from the parking lot. The hike itself is easy and only takes about 10 minutes. For even better views, I recommend hiking on the Gorge Trail. It’s a bit of a climb, but it’s definitely worth it. And if you want to get to the base of the falls, you’ll need to take The River Bed Trail, which is a bit more challenging. But no matter which trail you take, the views of Salmon River Falls are just incredible.
The beauty of New York State is on full display at its many waterfalls. And while Niagara Falls might get all the attention, plenty of other falls are just as stunning. So if you’re looking for a waterfall to explore, be sure to check out one (or all) of the 14 best waterfalls in New York state. They are all absolutely stunning and worth a visit.