7 of the Most Scenic Waterfalls in Washington

Hike to any of these beautiful waterfalls in Washington.
Chloe Hansen Chloe Hansen
July 25, 2023
7 of the Most Scenic Waterfalls in Washington

Washington State has more than its fair share of gorgeous waterfalls.  In Gregory Plumb's new book, Waterfall Atlas of the United States, he's compiled a comprehensive list of 141 of the most scenic waterfalls in Washington, but that would have made for a really long blog post, so we're only going to share 7 of of our favorites from the list. 

rainbow falls.png#1: Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls, a destination for the adventurous, accessible only by boat or air travel, then bus. Visitors depart from Chelan, WA and travel 50 miles up Lake Chelan to the outpost of Stehekin. This waterfall is well worth the extra effort to get there; it “drops into the glacial valley occupied by the Stehekin River,” providing breathtaking views of a dramatic rockface and the staggering 312 foot drop of the fall itself. Dogs are not allowed, so if you're heading to Rainbow Falls leave your furry friends at home.

wallace falls.png#2: Wallace Falls

Another of Washington’s most scenic waterfalls is Wallace Falls, located near the town of Goldbar within the Wallace Falls State Park. Called “one of the tallest single-drop cataracts in Washington,” this fall shouldn’t be missed. “The reach of the Wallace River that harbors the descents exhibits a complex geology—so complex that geologists have a special name for it: mélange. The term refers to a contorted and fragmented mixture of rocks that includes slate, phyllite, and schist.” Whether a hiker, a naturalist, or into geology; Wallace Falls is the sight to see.

otter falls.png#3: Otter Falls

Unique at first glance, Otter Falls provides viewers “a classic example of plutonic rock, an impressive outcrop of granite that originally cooled beneath the surface of the earth,” as well as, for less geologically inclined waterfall-goers, such easy access to the area that “even passenger vehicles can make the journey along a paved surface.” As you can see, this waterfall is another that can’t be missed out on visiting if you’re in Washington state.

comet falls.png#4: Comet Falls

Comet Falls, yet another clearly ranking-worthy Washington waterfall, distinguishes itself by showing off a fascinating aspect of Washington’s geology: “Descents such as Comet Falls plummet off hanging valleys, where tributary glaciers eroded more shallowly than a larger adjacent river.” As Washington natives may know, “Many cataracts in the park have resulted directly from the tremendous erosive power of glaciers.” Comet Falls displays that fact alongside dense forest and steep rock. Dogs not allowed.

walupt creek falls.png#5: Walupt Creek Falls

These falls are nearly inaccessible to the public, partially “because the waterfall is located in a wilderness area, national forest officials prefer not to promote its existence.” Its sheer beauty, however, makes it an unforgettable natural sight–even on the pages of a book like Waterfall Atlas. For passionate and eco-conscious hikers, however, “detailed directions for a not overly difficult bushwhack from the road to the descent” do exist.

curly creek falls.png#6: Curly Creek Falls

Curly Creek Falls is one of the most unique waterfalls on this list due to its “descent that pours under two natural arches,” and the seasonal novelty of the fact that “as the discharge dramatically decreases in late summer, a third arch is revealed.” As an added point of geologic interest, “the arches are likely remnants of the ceiling of a small lava tube where the stream now flows. If the arches at Curly Creek are indeed a part of an old lava tube, the spans would have been connected in the past.” If you’re interested in seeing a magnificent waterfall and a stunningly interesting set of arches, this is the fall for you.

spray falls.png#7: Spray Falls

Who says waterfalls have to fall straight down? The flow of Spray Falls shows how a waterfall can take a less classical shape and be even more beautiful for it. “Spray Falls pours from an amphitheater-shaped area over a steep-sided valley that was carved and once occupied by a glacier,” and you can see it firsthand if you journey through Washington’s most scenic waterfalls. Dogs not allowed.

Want to learn more about these waterfalls (and many, many more)? Waterfall Atlas of the United States by Gregory Plumb is the most comprehensive book on US waterfalls. It has an extensive state-by-state overview as well as information on geology, flora, and fauna associated with waterfalls, human and cultural history, and more.

waterfallatlaspic.jpgAll photos and quotes in this post by Gregory Plumb, from Waterfall Atlas of the United States