In an area of breathtaking nature, New York waterfalls are absolutely epic. Some of them, like Niagara Falls, are famous all over the world.
I grew up in New York state, so I have a lot of experience with NY nature – waterfalls, hiking trails, mountains, and the coast alike. Finding upstate New York’s waterfalls is one of the best activities to do in the area, much like the waterfalls in nearby New Jersey.
Luckily, there are lots of options for NY waterfalls. Even better, most of them have lovely accommodations and eateries right nearby.
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Waterfalls In New York
- FAQs about Waterfalls in New York
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15 Best Waterfalls In New York
One of the most famous natural wonders of the world is located near the border with Canada
If there’s one item on this list that practically everyone will know, it’s Niagara Falls. Located on the border of New York and Canada, Niagara contains three major waterfalls; Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.
There’s so much stuff to do at Niagara that you could make an entire trip out of it. Think helicopter rides, ziplines, and the Niagara Hornblower Funicular. But, if you’re pressed for time, I’d at least make sure you catch a ride on the Maid of the Mist boat that brings you right up to the base of the falls.
If you’re on a budget, Niagara will be a great stop for you too! It’s totally free to walk around Niagara Falls State Park and see the falls.
The most-visited waterfall of Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca
As the name suggests, Buttermilk Falls is the star of its namesake New York State Park. However, there are also nine other waterfalls to explore within the park. There’s also a beach, hiking trails, spots for fishing, campsites, and cabins available inside the park.
The Buttermilk Falls waterfall itself gets its name from the frothy-ness of the Buttermilk Creek flowing to Cayuga Lake. You can swim in the natural pool below the falls from the end of June to Labor Day Weekend. The park is free to enter and enjoy, but be aware that you’ll have to pay a fee if you park onsite.
New York state’s tallest waterfall at 260 feet high, located in Hunter
Kaaterskill Falls is a local favorite and is actually the tallest waterfall in the entire state at 260 feet high. Yes, even higher than the famed rushing waters of Niagara. It’s broken up into two tiers, which gives Kaaterskill a unique look.
It’s just a short mile-long walk to the base of the falls. When you’re walking around the nearby hiking trails, be sure you steer clear of the edge. Many people have fallen off by getting too close, and the outcome isn’t pretty.
Please be aware that there are only portapotties at Kaaterskill Falls. Additionally, there aren’t any garbage cans at this waterfall. So, bring a bag with you to take away all your trash.
👉 Pro Tip: Make sure you arrive either super early or later in the day when you visit Kaaterskill Falls. Aim for a weekday, too. The parking lots tend to fill up by 10 AM at the latest on weekends and holidays.
Rainbow Falls (Watkins Glen State Park)
An otherworldly waterfall located in the most popular state park of the Finger Lakes region
There’s so much gorgeous nature to see at the New York State Park of Watkins Glen. But, one of the best things to do here is to see the majestic Rainbow Falls.
The water of Rainbow Falls trickles along the stairway-like rocks from 19 little falls eventually making its way into the sunken natural gorge below. Plus, there’s a variety of bridges and walkways that give you different perspectives on the waterfall.
You can reach this waterfall by trekking along the Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park. The gorgeous hike is about a mile and a half long and of moderate difficulty. Like most state parks in New York, Watkins Glen is free to enter.
The highest waterfall on the Genesee River, located in the center of Rochester
High Falls stands out from the other waterfalls on this list for its location. Instead of being tucked away in the wilderness, High Falls is located on the Genesee River right in the heart of a big city, Rochester. You can actually see the city architecture in the background of the waterfall.
There are a few different places to view High Falls from. You can cross the Pont de Rennes Bridge or go to the West Bank Viewing Terrace, but I’d recommend stopping by Genesee Brew House. It has a lovely view of the waterfall and the Genesee River.
Massive and stunning falls with a creek that’s a popular spot for fly fishing
There are over 150 waterfalls in the ivy league town of Ithaca, which is one of reasons Ithaca tops our list of the best towns in NY. One of the most spectacular Ithaca area waterfalls is the one that bears its name – Ithaca Falls. It’s located pretty close to Cornell University, slightly north of downtown Ithaca.
It’s possible to see Ithaca Falls from Lake Street Bridge, but I’d recommend walking along the creek to get a better view.
While it might be tempting to take a dip in the beautiful natural pool that the waterfall flows into, avoid it at all costs. The nearby Ithaca Gun Factory left remains of lead contamination and it’s not safe to swim or take a mud bath.
Upper Falls and Middle Falls
Two powerful waterfalls fed by the Genesee River in the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park
The Upper and Middle Falls of Letchworth State Park are both so beautiful that they each need a place on this list. They’re located pretty close to each other, so it’s easy to see both falls in one afternoon.
The Upper Falls is right under an active railroad bridge, and you can often watch the trains pass right over it. It’s a fun treat for kids. You can get there by taking hiking trail #1 or #2.
The Middle Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Letchworth State Park. You can also catch a glimpse of this one if you’re hiking along trail #1.
👉 Don’t Forget to Pack: Even though the hike to Middle Falls and Upper Falls isn’t very difficult, it’s still important to be prepared and hydrated. This Grayl Geopress is perfect because you can purify water as you go.
Salmon River Falls
A tucked-away 110-foot high waterfall with crystal clear water and lush forest near Orwell
Salmon River Falls is one of the lesser-known New York waterfalls, but it’s every bit as stunning as the rest of the falls on the list. The three-tiered Salmon River Falls is secluded away in New York’s thick forests, but it’s an easy walk to get to.
Once you’re there, you can take in the falls from the edge of the natural pool it creates. Alternatively, you can walk along the top of the waterfall, but this isn’t the best spot to walk on if you’re walking alone with kids or dogs.
👉 Wondering when to go to NYC? Check out our guide to when to visit New York City!
Taughannock Falls State Park
A massive waterfall that plunges 215 ft down in an iconic state park in the Finger Lakes area
Taughnnock Falls is one of the most treasured natural attractions in the northeast. Impressively, it’s the tallest free-falling waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. It drops down 215 feet.
The Taughnnock Falls State Park, named after the massive waterfall, has several hiking trails to explore. Each at varying levels of difficulty. There’s also kayaking, fishing, swimming, paddleboarding, and more.
Eternal Flame Falls
A magical waterfall named for the ever-burning flame just beneath the flowing water
Eternal Flames Falls is unlike any other waterfall in New York. That’s because, underneath its rushing flow of water, you’ll see a tiny little flame flickering. There are only nine of these ‘eternal flame’ waterfalls in the entire world.
There are a bunch of different legends that surround the Eternal Flame Falls. Mainly about how it’s a symbol for eternal life. But scientifically, it’s the result of a natural gas leak just below the surface.
Eagle Cliff Falls
A towering waterfall that flows seamlessly between two huge rock walls
Eagle Cliff Falls is located in Havana Glen Park near the Finger Lakes region. It’s a super easy walk to get from the parking lot to Eagle’s Cliff Falls itself. So, this is an ideal waterfall for people who want to enjoy the views but don’t want to go on a huge excursion to get there.
📚 Read Next: 21 Top Lakes in New York
167-foot falls that rushes over 400-million-year-old bedrock
As you’ve probably guessed from the name, Chittenango Falls is the top attraction of Chittenango Falls State Park. It’s a gorgeous little fall in the Appalachian Mountain region, surrounded by lots of greenery and wild animals.
There are also a bunch of hiking trails throughout the park to check out.
Ok Slip Falls
One of the highest falls in the Adirondacks flaunts a cautiously funny name
This waterfall might have the funniest, yet most concerning, name on this entire list. Ok Slip Falls is located in the Adirondacks about an hour north of Albany, the state’s capital.
Compared to some of the waterfalls on this list, Ok Slip Falls is relatively new. It first became accessible to the public in 2014 when a new trail directly to the fall was opened. Since then, its become a favorite waterfall of locals and visitors alike.
🚗 Planning a road trip? Use my 7 Day New York Road Trip Itinerary!
Diamond Notch Falls
Traverse a semi-challenging 3+ mile hike to reach these lovely little falls
Diamond Notch Falls is located in the Catskill Mountains region. There are a few different trails you can take to reach these falls, but the main one is via Diamond Notch Road. It’s a pretty difficult hike that’s over 3 miles over rocky terrain.
However, you’ll be rewarded with insanely gorgeous views, and trickling falls.
By the way, if you love hikes, be sure to check out my guide to the best hiking trails in New York.
One of the most popular sites in Robert H. Treman State Park
The 115-foot-high Lucifer Falls is one of the main attractions in Robert H. Treman State Park near Ithaca. It’s another one of those waterfalls that require a hike to reach.
There’s a difficult path along the Gorge and Rim trails or an easier path of Enfield Glen. Choose whichever route suits you.
👉 Read Next: New York Travel Guide
FAQs about Waterfalls in New York
How many waterfalls are there in New York?
New York has 2,000 waterfalls throughout the state. These falls are in all different parts of New York, from the northern edge where New York meets Canada all the way down to New York City.
Where are the waterfalls in New York?
New York’s waterfalls are scattered across the entire state. Many of New York’s waterfalls are located in Northern and upstate New York. But, you can find waterfalls no matter where you’re staying in New York.
That’s all for my guide to New York’s best waterfalls! If you’re still in the planning phase of your NYC trip, be sure to check out our guide to where to stay in New York!
Enjoy the waterfalls in New York!
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