12 Top-Rated Waterfalls in Washington State

Written by Brad Lane
May 7, 2020

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Among many Washington wonders, the state displays a wide range of beautiful waterfalls that leave a lasting impression. Waterfalls are most prevalent in the watery west side of the state. Places like Palouse Falls in eastern Washington, however, do well to represent Eastern Washington.

State and national parks in Washington are home to some of the best waterfalls in the state. Spray Falls in Mount Rainier stands out in a region of prominent natural landmarks. On the Olympic Peninsula, Marymere Falls offers a classic adventure opportunity and photo-op.

City waterfalls like Spokane Falls are also worth a visit. As are Whatcom Falls within Bellingham, where the water is surrounded by a lovely city park of its own name. Scenic appeal is also found at Tumwater Falls Park, just outside the state capital of Olympia. For waterfall hikes close to Seattle, look no farther than Franklin Falls in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Find more places to visit with our list of the best waterfalls in Washington.

1. Snoqualmie Falls, Snoqualmie

Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls is arguably the most famous waterfall in Washington. Less than an hour from the Emerald City, Snoqualmie is also one of the best waterfalls near Seattle.

Long before this 270-foot waterfall premiered in the opening credits of the cult classic TV show Twin Peaks, the area surrounding the falls was an important meeting ground for native cultures. Visitors today can appreciate the gravity of the falls with an interpretive trail and lodge nearby.

The Salish Lodge and Spa has a view of the falls and provides a four-star stay with fine-dining and spa services. A closer look at the moving water is a short walk along a less-than-a-mile interpretive trail below the falls.

Summer brings the warmest weather and largest crowds to Snoqualmie Falls. Snoqualmie has its largest flow during the spring and corresponding snowmelt.

2. Spray Falls, Mount Rainier National Park

Spray Falls
Spray Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

One of many great hikes in Mount Rainier National Park, Spray Falls is in the northwest Mowich Lake region of the park. It's a moderate 2.25-mile hike to reach this 350-plus-foot waterfall tumbling down the side of a cliff.

Hikers begin the trek by hopping on a small part of the Wonderland Trail – the only hiking trail in the park that circles Mount Rainier. The trail undulates as it makes its way to Spray Falls and passes by the Eagle's Cliff overlook, which offers a great view. After a short spur trail to approach the falls, the cloud of mist from Spray Falls lends credence to its name. Visitors can view the falls from afar or carefully navigate massive boulders to take a closer look.

It's a manageable day hike to Spray Falls and back. For a more strenuous endeavor, the trail continues into the alpine meadows of Spray Park. The wildflower meadows at Spray Park are in full bloom during the height of summer. It's a considerable amount of elevation gain to reach Spray Park, and visitors should plan for the whole day if visiting.

3. Palouse Falls, Palouse Falls State Park

Palouse Falls
Palouse Falls

This ancient, Ice-Age waterfall is in Eastern Washington, forty miles north of Walla Walla. Designated as Washington's state waterfall, Palouse Falls incorporates a 200-foot drop, a massive bowl, and a stunning gorge. On the western banks of the Palouse River and below the falls, Palouse Falls State Park is the best place to go for visitor resources.

Alongside primitive camping opportunities, the state park features three dramatic observation points. The lower observation point is universally accessible and provides a popular spot to bring a tripod or art easel. It's a remote landscape surrounding Palouse Falls, and visitors should plan their trip accordingly.

4. Franklin Falls, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Franklin Falls
Franklin Falls

Within an hour's drive of the city, Franklin Falls offers one of the best waterfalls near Seattle. It's a short hike to reach this stunning waterfall in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The path to the falls has very minimal elevation gain and is well maintained by trail crews and trail users. The short hike and easy path also make Franklin Falls one of the most popular family waterfall hikes in the state.

The trail follows the south fork of the Snoqualmie River. While Franklin drops an impressive 135 feet over three tiers, only the bottom 70 feet of the waterfall is visible from the trail. A slippery path leads down closer to the pool underneath the falls, where the misty atmosphere offers a great place to cool off during the summer.

5. Spokane Falls, Spokane

Spokane Falls and Huntington Park
Spokane Falls and Huntington Park

A defining attraction of Spokane's Riverfront Park, this set of two waterfalls offers one of the best urban waterfalls in the country. At the center of downtown Spokane, the Lower and Upper Spokane Falls have a long history in the area. Once a prominent gathering spot for native cultures, the falls are now intertwined with the city and the creation of hydroelectric power.

Spokane Falls retains its natural appeal amid city development. Near City Hall, Huntington Park is one of the best places to see Lower Falls from land. Riverfront Park also features a SkyRide that includes an enclosed-cabin cable ride over the lower falls. Two spanning pedestrian bridges offer the best views of Upper Falls.

6. Whatcom Falls, Bellingham

Whatcom Falls Park
Whatcom Falls Park

One of the top attractions in Bellingham, Whatcom Falls is the centerpiece attraction of a park of its own name. A Civilian Conservation Corps-era bridge welcomes guests to Whatcom Falls Park. The bridge also provides an excellent viewing platform for the falls. Over three miles of trails traverse Whatcom Falls Park and lead to other picturesque water features along Whatcom Creek.

Other amenities at the park include picnic shelters, interpretive displays, and a playground. The park also features a fish hatchery with educational resources about the local habitat. A popular swimming hole is farther into the park, where crowds often gather in the summer.

7. Twin Falls, Olallie State Park

Twin Falls
Twin Falls

Twin Falls is another famous waterfall hike near Seattle. Less than an hour from the city, this 165-foot waterfall is within Olallie State Park. A 2.5-mile hike leads hikers to an excellent viewpoint of the falls. The trail begins adjacent to the south fork of the Snoqualmie River and offers several opportunities to take a quick dip if the weather is warm.

The collection of cascading features known as Twin Falls isn't the only water feature in Olallie State Park. A shorter trail within the park leads visitors from the South Fork Picnic Area to the 77-foot Weeks Falls. The park is also a popular spot for mountain biking and other hiking trails. A portion of the 212-mile Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail traverses through the park.

8. Marymere Falls, Olympic National Park

Marymere Falls in Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park
Marymere Falls in Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park

On the Olympic Peninsula of western Washington, Marymere Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in Olympic National Park. The falls also provide one of the park's best hiking trails. The trailhead for the falls is on the north side of the peninsula, 30 minutes west of Port Angeles on Highway 101. It's less than a two-mile round-trip hike to Marymere Falls on a flat path that traverses through an old-growth forest.

Marymere Falls is a popular destination in the park, much in thanks to its easy accessibility. The trailhead is also located near the shoreline of Lake Crescent, as well as the Lake Crescent Lodge. The 90-foot waterfall is a great spot to hike to and enjoy a packed lunch. It only takes about an hour to make the trip to Marymere Falls and back, but the stunning scenery encourages slower trips.

9. Panther Creek Falls, Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Panther Creek Falls
Panther Creek Falls

Ten miles north of the Columbia River Gorge, Panther Creek Falls offers a family-friendly hike and massive waterfall. From Forest Service Road 65, it's less than a half-mile hike to a viewing platform of the falls. Panther Creek Falls plummets nearly 70 feet into a churning blue pool. A series of even taller rivulets cascades down the same rock face for extra scenic appeal.

This entire region of the Pacific Northwest is well known for its waterfalls. The three-tiered Falls Creek Falls is another fantastic waterfall nearby. The Columbia River Gorge, to the south, is home to many of the best waterfalls in Oregon, including the 620-foot-tall Multnomah Falls.

10. Wallace Falls, Wallace Falls State Park

Wallace Falls
Wallace Falls

In the Cascade Mountains and under an hour from Seattle, Wallace Falls features a cascading attraction at the end of a rewarding hike. Surrounded by a state park of its own name, this 265-foot waterfall is accessible by a 2.8-mile hiking trail. It's over 1,300 feet of elevation gain to reach the upper falls, much of which is gained through a series of steep switchbacks at the end of the trail.

Visitors not looking to test their legs will find an excellent view of the middle falls before the trail takes a steep turn.

Wallace Falls is a popular hiking trail on summer weekends, though an early start can avoid most of the crowds. Alongside the 5.6-mile round-trip to see the upper falls, Wallace Falls State Park features nearly 10 more miles of hiking trails.

11. Iron Creek Falls, Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Iron Creek Falls
Iron Creek Falls

Northeast of Mount St. Helens in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, this wild waterfall is accessible with a short hike. From Forest Service Road 25, it's a steep tenth of a mile hike down to Iron Creek, and its namesake falls. The waterfall isn't the most photographed in the state, which means it's easier to find time to enjoy this moving feature by yourself.

The tumbling Iron Creek Falls flows the heaviest in late spring and early summer. As the summer season progresses, the rocky shore surrounding the pool created by Iron Creek Falls becomes more accessible to explore.

For a place to spend the night nearby, the Iron Creek Campground offers primitive sites just 10 miles north on Forest Service Road 25.

12. Tumwater Falls, Brewery Park

The upper falls at Tumwater Falls Park
The upper falls at Tumwater Falls Park

In the historic city of Tumwater, south of Olympia, this manicured space features several falls on the Deschutes River. Maintained by the Olympia Tumwater Foundation, the 15-acre park surrounding the river is a popular spot to enjoy the afternoon. Alongside the rushing water, manicured green space and 1.5 miles of hiking trails comprise the rest of Brewery Park.

Interpretive information is throughout the park and details the history of the area. Several scenic footbridges cross the Deschutes River and give a high vantage point of the cascading water.

During September and October, visitors can witness salmon as they make their way up the constructed fish ladder in the river. This landscaped space is also commonly known as Tumwater Falls Park.

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