15 Top-Rated Waterfalls in Oregon
Author Brad Lane lives in Portland and often takes the Columbia Gorge Express to see Oregon's best waterfalls.
Nothing quite compares to the rushing display of gravity presented by a waterfall. Whether you're a tourist visiting for the first time or a long-term resident of the state, a waterfall hike in Oregon is always a fun thing to do.
The Columbia River Gorge near Portland is one of the most popular places to see waterfalls in Oregon. Several waterfalls also make a splash in Oregon's national forests. And whether you want to see a plunge, punch bowl, or collection of cascading drops, each season adds a different view and reason to visit.
Like Multnomah Falls within the Columbia River Gorge, some waterfalls are easily accessed by vehicle. Others, like Tamanawas Falls in the Mount Hood National Forest, require more of a hike to access. Always check local conditions before arriving.
Plan your outdoor adventures with our list of the top waterfalls in Oregon.
1. Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area spans 80 miles of the western Oregon and Washington border. The area is rich in waterfalls, hiking trails, and stunning mountain views. One of the best ways to experience this international destination and popular attraction is to "waterfall-hop" throughout the area.
Several waterfall hikes branch off from the Oregon side of the gorge, connected by 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 home base is Hood River, where visitors find all kinds of fun things to do.
Multnomah Falls is 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. This impressive waterfall 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. On-site amenities include the Multnomah Lodge, constructed in 1925, which stands as a testament to the long history of attracting visitors.
As of 2022, a Waterfall Corridor Permit is required to park a car along certain sections of the Historic Columbia River Highway throughout the summer, including Multnomah Falls. These measures are an effort to curb the overcrowding that has been an issue in the past. Permits are free but incur a $2 transaction fee.
From Portland to Multnomah Falls, the drive time is about thirty minutes. Most visitors utilize public transportation or take an organized tour from Portland. It's also possible to bike the route. 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
Silver Falls State Park is a short drive from Salem within the Willamette Valley. It's home to not just one or two stunning displays of gravity—this state park delivers a double-digit number of waterfalls.
The most distinguished waterfall is South Falls, which plunges more than 175 feet into a dark pool. Here, a unique path traverses behind the falling water for 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. It's a moderately challenging hike with approximately 800 feet of elevation gain and potentially slippery conditions.
Much in thanks to this waterfall access, the park's campground ranks as one of the best places to camp in Oregon.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Salem
3. Salt Creek Falls, Willamette National Forest
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, less than 50 feet from the parking area, nearly anyone can appreciate this remarkable feat of gravity.
The falls are within the Willamette National Forest and a 60-mile drive east from Eugene. The drive follows the paved Willamette Highway the entire way, adding to the waterfall's accessibility.
Other ways to enjoy this "wow"-inducing waterfall include an interpretive trail and a 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
One of the highlights in Bend, and right in the city's abundant backyard known as Deschutes National Forest, Tumalo Falls and the corresponding day-use area are a classic outdoor attraction of 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
In the Umpqua National Forest, less than thirty miles north of Crater Lake National Park, Watson Falls is one of southwest Oregon's largest waterfalls. 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 accessible with less than a half-mile hike from the parking area. The parking area and trailhead come equipped with shaded picnic tables and restrooms, providing a great place for a packed lunch. For an easy add-on adventure to the day, the nearby Toketee Falls is an equally awe-inspiring sight to see.
6. Punch Bowl Falls, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Punch Bowl Falls is accessible via the iconic 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 less than two miles up the Eagle Creek Trail. It's moderately uphill, and some of the route traverses near the edge of steep cliffsides. A few sections even have cable handrails installed for extra stability. It's not a trail recommended for small children.
Punch Bowl Falls is only one of the many attractions and water features found along the 13-mile Eagle Creek Trail. Farther along the Eagle Creek Trail, long-distance hikers can reach the impressive feat of trail engineering known as Tunnel Falls. This steep canyon pathway is always popular and 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. The trail re-opened in 2021 thanks to massive volunteer efforts; check local conditions before visiting.
7. Sahalie & Koosah Falls, Willamette National Forest
Offering an easy-to-access viewing platform and optional trail system, Sahalie and Koosah Falls accommodate all adventure levels. Both waterfalls are part of the scenic McKenzie River. 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 Oregon's best hiking trails.
Sahalie is the larger of the two waterfalls, though Koosah is known to be the favorite among the two. Both feature separate parking areas and viewing platforms. The falls are accessible with a 70-mile drive from Eugene or a 60-mile drive from Bend.
8. Tamanawas Falls, Hood National Forest
The trail leading to Tamanawas Falls is a pleasure within itself, following the tumbling waters of Cold Spring Creek for more than 1.5 miles. The trail traverses through a lush, forested environment on the east side of Mount Hood, passing several larger and larger drops that 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 provide hours of entertainment, and the never-ending mist from the falls helps keep the area cool in the peak of summer.
Tamanawas Falls is a popular waterfall, but the 1.5-mile hike keeps visitors to a minimum. Mid-mornings throughout the week offer a good chance to find some solitude next to the rushing water.
9. Proxy Falls, Willamette National Forest
Within the Willamette National Forest and accessed via the McKenzie Highway (closed in the winter), Proxy Falls is a stunning set of cascading waterfalls that plunge into a pool of cold water. Interested explorers 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 lava rock sections 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 in the state.
10. Latourell Falls, Columbia River Gorge
Latourell Falls is one of the first major waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge coming from Portland and is accessible from the Historic Columbia River Highway. This inspiring waterfall plunges for more than 200 feet to create a long ribbon of rushing water and mist.
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.
It's a short jaunt from Guy W. Talbot State Park to see the falls. Many visitors also opt for the 2.4-mile Latourell Falls Loop. This easy-to-moderate hiking trail gains a little over 600 feet in its looped journey, and includes an excellent view of Upper Latourell Falls, also plunging with appeal.
11. Munson Creek Falls State Natural Site, Tillamook County
Munson Creek Falls is one of the largest waterfalls on the Oregon coast and easily accessible from the Oregon Coast Highway. The waterfall area provides a variety of hiking options for the entire family.
A half-mile Lower Falls Trail showcases the tiered waterfall plummeting more than 300 feet to the base. The Lower Falls route gains less than 100 feet of elevation and is accessible for nearly all hiking abilities. A more challenging Upper Trail offers different perspectives and dense coastal forest surroundings.
Enormous western red cedars and Sitka spruces line the trail and 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
Less than three miles from Watson Falls in Umpqua National Forest, the Toketee Falls Trail is a short out-and-back hike that's perfect for the whole family. The route to see Toketee is a 0.8-mile round trip with less than 200 feet of elevation gain along the way. The few moments of steepness along the route have perfectly placed benches that cater to 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. This scenic landscape offers a great swimming hole for the hot days of summer.
An hour from Crater Lake, Toketee Falls makes a great add-on adventure to a national park experience.
13. White River Falls State Park, Maupin
Thirty miles south of The Dalles and the Columbia River, and tucked into an otherwise dry and remote landscape, White River Falls plunges for more than 90 feet into a stunning pool of icy cold water. This makes White River Falls a popular spot to cool down during the hot summer months in this part of the state. It's also a popular shoulder season hike when the region cools down.
The falls can be seen from a viewing platform just off the parking lot. A much closer view is afforded with a half-mile round-trip hike. The route is a bit steep, and contours towards a decommissioned and century-old hydroelectric plant that once utilized the rushing water.
A real appeal of this tucked-away waterfall is an additional side trail leading down to the pool of water where you can soak your feet.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Maupin
14. Bridal Veil Falls, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Near Multnomah and Latourell Falls on the Historic Columbia River Highway, Bridal Veil Falls is a family-friendly waterfall and easy to explore. Beginning at the abundant parking area, visitors can take two trails to gain some unique perspectives of the area.
Interpretive information is found alongside panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge along the universally accessible Upper Trail. The Lower Trail leads to Bridal Veil Falls—a double cascading waterfall that resembles its namesake when water levels are high. The total length of traversing both trails is under two miles.
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. Bridal Veil is one of the first waterfalls west of the Columbia River Gorge Permit Zone—so no permits are required to visit.
15. Hug Point State Recreation Site, Arch Cape
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 situated five miles south of the popular Cannon Beach and are ideal for every member of the family to explore. Other recreation options at Hug Point include sea caves, tide pools, and the Pacific Ocean's never-ending pounding on the shore.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Arch Cape
More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com
Oregon's Coast: You can fill an entire calendar with the things to see and do on the Oregon coast. Take time to visit the beaches, hike coastal trails, and sightsee along the way. If you want to do a driving tour, have a read through our guide to planning the best Oregon coast road trip. For ideas for places to stay, have a look at our list of best resorts on the Oregon coast.