×

15 Top-Rated Waterfalls in Oregon

Written by Brad Lane

Nothing quite compares to the rushing display of gravity presented by a waterfall. Whether you are a tourist visiting for the first time or a long-term resident who has seen it all, a waterfall hike is always a fun thing to do. The Columbia River Gorge near Portland is one of the most popular waterfall-lined places to visit, and an abundance of waterfall attractions can be found within each national forest in the state.

Like Multnomah Falls within the Columbia River Gorge, some waterfalls are easily accessed by vehicle, while others, like Tamanawas Falls in the Mount Hood National Forest, require more of a hike to access. Whether you want to see a plunge, punch bowl, or collection of cascading drops, each season adds a different view and reason to visit. Find the best with our list of the top waterfalls in Oregon.

1. Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Benson Bridge and Multnomah Falls

Benson Bridge and Multnomah Falls

Defining much of the border between Oregon and Washington, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area displays a dense collection of waterfalls, hiking trails, and stunning mountain views. An international destination and popular attraction, one of the best ways to experience the gorge is to "waterfall-hop" throughout the area connecting different waterfall hikes via Interstate 84 and the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Along the route, other recreational outlets include elevated hiking trails, windsurfing and kiteboarding locales, and communities that relish in it all. A good place to base yourself is in Hood River, where you'll find all kinds of fun things to do.

One of the most popular waterfalls to visit in the Columbia River Gorge, and perhaps one of the most iconic natural attractions in the state, Multnomah Falls plunges for more than 600 feet to leave quite the impression on the ground below and anyone that visits. Separated by two drops, the accessible Benson Bridge allows visitors to stand both above and below Multnomah Falls to appreciate the grandeur. The falls are a thirty-minute drive from Portland, and on-site amenities include the Multnomah Lodge, constructed in 1925, which stands as a testament to the long history of attracting visitors.

The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire significantly impacted the Columbia River Gorge, including Multnomah Falls. To find current conditions in the area before your visit, check the Forest Service website.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Hood River

2. South Falls, Silver Falls State Park

South Falls

South Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

A short drive from Salem within the Willamette Valley, Silver Falls State Park delivers on multiple waterfall settings, including the distinguished South Falls. The falls plunge for more than 175 feet into a dark pool, and the path travels behind the falling water, offering a unique perspective.

An expansive day-use area surrounds South Falls, and this mesmerizing movement of water is only the beginning of an epic showcase of stunning waterfalls. Starting at South Falls, the aptly named Trail of Ten Falls is a 7.2-mile National Scenic Trail, which covers nearly all significant waterfalls within Silver Falls State Park. The park campground ranks as one of the best campgrounds in Oregon.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Salem

3. Salt Creek Falls, Willamette National Forest Editor's Pick

Salt Creek Falls

Salt Creek Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Plunging for more than 280 feet into a beautiful waterfall basin, Salt Creek Falls is one of the largest, single-drop waterfalls in the state. Much in thanks to the universally accessible boardwalk and viewing platform accessed 50 feet from the parking area, nearly anyone can appreciate this remarkable feat of gravity. The falls are within the Willamette National Forest near Eugene.

Other ways to enjoy this "wow"-inducing waterfall include an interpretive trail and steeper spur trail, which leads to the base of the falls. In winter, properly equipped explorers can park at the Salt Creek Sno-Park less than a half mile away and make the easy trek to see the impressive sight surrounded by snow.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Eugene

4. Tumalo Falls, Deschutes National Forest, Bend

Tumalo Falls

Tumalo Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

One of the top attractions in Bend, and right in the city's abundant backyard known as the Deschutes National Forest, Tumalo Falls and the corresponding day-use area are a classic in the community. After driving a gravel road and almost immediately after exiting your vehicle at the parking area, a stunning view of the distant Tumalo Falls is easy to see.

It's recommended to explore the Tumalo Creek Trail from here, which leads users through the small canyon and up to the top of the falls for a different perspective. Tumalo Falls are popular throughout the year, and the best time to avoid the crowds is mid-week and in the morning.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Bend

5. Watson Falls, Umpqua National Forest

Watson Falls

Watson Falls

In the Umpqua National Forest, less than thirty miles north of Crater Lake National Park, Watson Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in southwest Oregon. The falls plunge for nearly 300 feet, and the surrounding waterscapes are filled with movement and many tributaries, making it a popular place for long-exposure photography.

The falls are accessed with less than a half-mile hike from the parking area, where shaded picnic tables and restrooms provide a great place for a packed lunch. For an easy add-on adventure to the day, the nearby Toketee Falls are an equally awe-inspiring sight to see.

6. Punch Bowl Falls, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Punch Bowl Falls

Punch Bowl Falls

Another iconic waterfall of Oregon, Punch Bowl Falls is accessed via the Eagle Creek Trail within the Columbia River Gorge. Named after the massive pool formed by the rushing water from above, Punch Bowl Falls is not only a scenic sight but it's also a popular swimming hole throughout the summer. Expect flocks of locals, tourists, and families enjoying Punch Bowl Falls, particularly on the weekends.

Punch Bowl Falls is only one of the many attractions and water features found along the Eagle Creek Trail, and the steep canyon pathway easily earns its designation as one of the top day trips from Portland.

The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire significantly impacted the Columbia River Gorge, including Punch Bowl Falls.

7. Sahalie & Koosah Falls, Willamette National Forest

Koosah Falls

Koosah Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Offering a viewing platform and optional trail system, Sahalie and Koosah Falls within the Willamette National Forest accommodate all levels of adventure. Both waterfalls are part of the scenic McKenzie River, and it's highly recommended to connect the two using a 2.6-mile hiking loop that traverses a small part of the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail — one of the best hiking trails in Oregon.

Sahalie is the larger of the two waterfalls, though Koosah is known to be the favorite among the two, and both feature separate parking areas and viewing platforms.

8. Tamanawas Falls, Hood National Forest

Tamanawas Falls

Tamanawas Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Following the tumbling waters of Cold Spring Creek for more than 1.5 miles, the trail leading to Tamanawas Falls is a pleasure within itself. As you make your way through the lush forested environment on the east side of Mount Hood, larger and larger drops in the water give a preview of what's to come.

Upon reaching Tamanawas Falls, it's hard not to tilt your head back in amazement as you take in the plunging water gracefully departing from the 150-foot lava cliff above. The many different vantage points and sitting spots surrounding Tamanawas Falls can provide hours of entertainment, and the never-ending mist from the falls helps keep the area cool in the peak of summer.

9. Proxy Falls, Willamette National Forest

Proxy Falls

Proxy Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Within the Willamette National Forest and accessed via the McKenzie Highway (closed in the winter), Proxy Falls is a stunning set of cascading waterfalls, which plunge into a pool of cold water. Interested explorers can park their vehicle on a long highway pullout, with restrooms available and recreation passes required, and begin the 1.5-mile loop to experience the falls.

Crossing into the Three Sisters Wilderness shortly within the journey, the trail crosses large sections of lava rock that require a more careful step. Proxy Falls is audible before it becomes visible, and after taking the short spur trail down to the base of the falls, it's easy to see why they are some of the most photographed waterfalls in the state.

10. Latourell Falls, Columbia River Gorge

Latourell Falls

Latourell Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

One of the first major waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge coming from Portland, and accessed from the Historic Columbia River Highway, Latourell Falls plunges for more than 200 feet to create a long ribbon of rushing water. Expect to share the view with other interested hikers, especially during the summer, which is also a nice time of year to cool off with the icy cold spray and pool at the bottom of the falls. A recommended approach is to bookend your exploration of Latourell Falls at Guy W. Talbot State Park, where a bountiful day-use area is perfect for a picnic and break from the crowds.

The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire significantly impacted the Columbia River Gorge, including Latourell Falls.

11. Munson Creek Falls State Natural Site, Tillamook County

Munson Creek Falls

Munson Creek Falls | Rick Obst / photo modified

One of the largest waterfalls on the Oregon coast and easily accessible from the Oregon Coast Highway, Munson Creek Falls offers a variety of hiking options for the entire family. A half-mile Lower Falls Trail showcases the tiered waterfall, which plummets more than 300 feet to the base, and a more challenging Upper Trail offers different perspectives and dense coastal forest surroundings. Lining the trail and natural site, enormous western red cedars and Sitka spruces define much of the landscape, providing an extra sense of grandeur alongside the falls. Munson Creek Falls is also a great detour to stretch your legs while driving the 101.

12. Toketee Falls, Umpqua National Forest

Toketee Falls

Toketee Falls

Less than three miles from Watson Falls in the Umpqua National Forest, the Toketee Falls Trail is a short out-and-back hike, which is perfect for the whole family. With moments of steepness along the half-mile route, perfectly placed benches allow for rest stops.

On the trail, different clearings in the foliage lend views of the North Umpqua River carving its way through the canyon. The two drops of Toketee Falls plunge more than 100 feet next to the eye-catching basalt columns that define the cliffside.

A great swimming hole for the hot days of summer, and a stunning sight to see no matter the time of year, Toketee Falls makes a great add-on adventure to a Crater Lake experience.

13. White River Falls State Park, Maupin

White River Falls

White River Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Thirty miles south of The Dalles and the Columbia River, and tucked away into an otherwise dry and remote landscape, White River Falls plunges for more than 90 feet into a stunning pool of icy cold water. Ideal for hot days in the summer or cooler shoulder season hikes, the falls can be seen from a viewing platform just off the parking lot.

The real appeal of this tucked-away waterfall is the near one-mile trail leading to the pool of water where you can soak your feet. Near the base of the falls, a decommissioned and century-old hydroelectric plant demonstrates a longstanding interest in the moving water.

14. Bridal Veil Falls, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Located near Multnomah and Latourell Falls on the Historic Columbia River Highway, Bridal Veil Falls is a family-friendly waterfall, which is easy to explore. Beginning at the abundant parking area, visitors can take two trails to gain some unique perspectives of the area. Along the upper trail, interpretive information is found alongside panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge.

The lower trail leads to Bridal Veil Falls, a double cascading waterfall that resembles its namesake when water levels are high. A small viewing platform can be found at the base of the falls, as well as a giant rock feature that's a popular spot to pose for a picture.

15. Hug Point State Recreation Site, Arch Cape

Waterfall at Hug Point State Recreation Site

Waterfall at Hug Point State Recreation Site | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The lush locations of waterfalls always increase their appeal, and the small waterfall found at Hug Point on the Oregon coast is no exception. The stunning ocean environment surrounding this seasonal waterfall is a small slice of paradise and one of the best beaches on the Oregon coast. Access to the beach is from a nearby parking lot or beach walk at low tide.

The falls are ideal for every member of the family to explore, and just five miles south of the popular Cannon Beach. Other recreation options at Hug Point includes sea caves, tide pools, and the never-ending pounding of the Pacific Ocean on the shore.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

Other Adventures in Oregon: Two of the state's most popular outdoor destinations are Bend and Hood River, both of which make great bases for travelers interesting in hiking or camping. While planning your waterfall adventures, be sure to also check out our Best Hot Springs in Oregon article. The best hiking trails in Oregon pair nicely with waterfall excursions.

Exploring Oregon's Cities: One of the most exciting cities to visit in Oregon is Portland, which delivers on high doses of culture and a good mix of outdoor elements including hiking trails and easily accessible day trips. Other cities that are fun to explore in Oregon include the state capital of Salem, and the home of the Oregon Ducks, Eugene.

Oregon's Coast: The many Top-Rated Tourist Attractions and Things to Do on the Oregon Coast can fill the entire calendar, including visiting some of the area's best beaches. For places to stay along the coast, have a look at our list of best resorts on the Oregon coast.

Discover destinations, find outdoor adventures, follow the journeys of our travel writers around the world, and be inspired.

More on Oregon