The Best Waterfalls to Visit in NY

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Man swimming in waterfall in NY

The eastern part of the U.S. has some amazing landscapes, with waterfalls in NY being a must-see. Whether on a road trip or hiking, there are beautiful waterways to explore. 

Keep reading to learn how many waterfalls are in New York and which are the best ones to visit. We also reveal the largest waterfall in the state (it may surprise you that it’s not Niagra Falls).

Let’s get into it!

How Many Waterfalls Are in NY? 

There are over 2,000 waterfalls in NY. The number includes waterfalls accessible to the public and those on private property. That’s a lot of water flowing!

New York has so many waterfalls because of the humid climate, and the land has various elevations. Not all waterfalls in the state are large. Some are a mere 5 feet tall, while others are up to 215 feet.  

What Is the Largest Waterfall in New York?

Taughannock Falls is the largest waterfall in NY, standing at the height of 215 feet. That makes it 33 feet taller than Niagra Falls. The gorge walls around Taughannock Falls are 400 feet tall.

It also ranks as the tallest free-falling waterfall in the northeastern U.S. The falls flow year-round, but you’ll be able to witness them at their most powerful in the spring. 

After heavy rains and snow melt, Taughannock Falls puts on a majestic display.

Traveler’s Tip: Make a splash and Plan Your Next Vacation to These Lakes in Upstate NY.

Mom and daughter swimming in waterfall in New York

The Best Waterfalls to Visit in NY

Waterfalls in NY are some of the most visited in the country. Let’s look at the best waterfalls to see here. 

Niagara Falls

Address: 332 Prospect St, Niagara Falls, NY 14303

How to Access: Niagara Falls can be accessed by vehicle. There are also hiking options within Niagara Falls State Park.

About: Niagara Falls is likely the most famous waterfall in North America. You can view it from New York and Canada. On the Canadian side, Horseshoe Falls is 187 feet tall and about 2,590 feet wide. The falls on the New York Side is between 69 feet and 98 feet high and about 1,050 feet wide. 

Niagara Falls is beautiful year-round, and you get different seasonal behaviors. For example, in the winter, you’re likely to see ice chunks flowing down the falls. 

Another fun time to view the falls is after dark when they’re all lit up with colorful lights.  

Taughannock Falls

Address: 1740 Taughannock Blvd., Trumansburg, NY 14886

How to Access: You can drive into Tauhannock Falls State Park and walk to the waterfall.

About: Taughannock Falls is the tallest waterfall in NY. It’s 215 feet tall, and the rocky cliffs around it are about 400 feet. There are gorge and rim trails you can hike to see the magnificent falls.

The gorge is just as inspiring as the falls themselves. Take a picnic lunch and enjoy the scenery for some time. And, if you’re a photographer, the area is extremely photogenic.  

Ithaca Falls

Location: Lake Street, Ithaca, NY 14850

How to Access: You can see the falls from Lake Street or walk down to the creek to see Ithaca Falls up close.

About: Ithaca Falls is 150 feet high and about 175 feet wide. The falls are close to downtown making them easy to get to while visiting. It’s a beautiful site with water cascading down rocks with several shelves. 

The falls had several mills operating in the area around 1817. You can still see some of the ruins on the south bank. In addition, the plunge pool is a popular fishing spot for lake-run trout and salmon.

Dog swimming in waterfall in New York

Hector Falls

Location: GPS: N 42.41802 / W 76.86677

How to Access: The upper third of the falls is visible from Route 414. You can also park and walk to the falls.

About: Hector Falls is wide and about 50 feet tall. The water flows over shale and limestone rock into Seneca Lake in the finger lakes region of New York. It’s a sight to see and a photographer’s dream. 

Besides the sheer beauty of the falls, it’s very easy to get to since a road, Route 414, runs by it. You can see them from the bridge on the road. Or walk down to get views from different angles.

Minekill Falls

Location: Parking Lot – N 42.42720 / W 74.47187; Viewing Platform: N 42.42903 / W 74.47190

How to Access: You can park and hike to the waterfall.

About: Minekill Falls is a powerful rush of water in the Catskills. We highly recommend hiking to see the upper, middle, and lower falls to get the whole experience. It’s a majestic waterfall in NY that’s memorable.

You can easily spend an entire day exploring the falls. It’s often referred to as a hidden gem that few people on earth get to see. 

Traveler’s Tip: While traveling through New York, Live Out Your Fairytale Daydreams at These Castles.

Middle Falls

Location: Genesee River, Hunt, NY 14846

How to Access: You can park and walk on trails to view falls from above.

About: Middle Falls is breathtaking and part of a series of waterfalls on the Genesee River in Letchworth State Park. The waterfall is about 107 feet high. It’s in a rocky canyon known as the Grand Canyon of the East.

If you’re a photographer or artist, you’ll likely never want to leave this place. A favorite time to view the falls is in the autumn, when the leaves are changing color in the background. 

New York waterfall

Kaaterskill Falls

Location: Hunter, NY 12436

How to Access: The trail to the falls is about 1.4 miles roundtrip.

About: Kaaterskill Falls drops in two tiers, totaling about 260 feet. It’s a beautiful sight within the forest and rocky terrain of eastern New York. The easy-to-access falls are a must-see.

Kaaterskill Falls is considered the resting place of the creator by Native Americans. Many artists, including painter Thomas Cole, have used the falls as inspiration and expression. And the falls are a character in Washington Irving’s book Rip Van Winkle.

Buttermilk Falls – Catskills

Location: Top of falls – N42 10.523 W74 04.298; Bottom of falls: N42 10.658, W74 04.259

How to Access: Hiking is the only way to access Buttermilk Falls.

About: Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills is approximately 549 feet tall over nine drops. If you do get to this beautiful waterfall in NY, it’s worth it.

A round-trip hike to the fall will take you about seven hours to access from the east side. Ropes and harnesses are needed to get down the ravine. Additionally, there are warnings not to climb from the top to the bottom of the waterfalls. It may look possible, but it isn’t. 

You should also avoid accessing the falls from the west side. It has a steep ravine. 

Eternal Flame Falls

Address: Eternal Flame Hiking Trail, Orchard Park, NY 14127

How to Access: The moderately challenging trail to access the falls is 1.4 miles out and back.

About: Eternal Flame Falls is a popular destination. It’s a small, 35-foot waterfall with a grotto emitting natural gas. 

Scientists don’t actually know what’s keeping the flame burning because the shale under the waterfall isn’t hot enough or old enough to cause gas pockets which would cause the flame. The mysterious falls are fun to visit and witness in person.

Rainbow Falls – Watkins Glen State Park

Address: Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen, NY 14891

How to Access: You’ll need to walk in to see Rainbow Falls.

About: Rainbow Falls is yet another extremely photogenic waterfall in NY. There are 19 waterfalls flowing down into a gorge of colorful rock. Located in the finger lakes region, Rainbow Falls is a gem of Watkins Glen State Park. The falls are a bucket list for any adventurer. 

It’s a popular destination with about 1 million visitors each year. The gorge trail is only open from late spring to early fall.  

Are Waterfalls in NY Worth Visiting?

Waterfalls in NY are worth visiting. From touristy and dramatic Niagra Falls to the secluded and mysterious Rainbow Falls, the state has some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. We highly recommend visiting as many as you can. 

A road trip is a perfect way to see one or all of the waterfalls on our list. We hope you get to some and tag us in your photos.

Which of these waterfalls in NY do you want to visit first?

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