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Best Waterfalls Guide for Washington State (Updated)

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Waterfalls in Washington State

The most northwest place you can get in the pacific northwest, Washington state is home to fantastic rainy forests, misty landscapes, and breathtaking water features. It’s also still largely wilderness once you get outside of places like the greater Seattle area, so there’s tons to see and do for any nature lover.

As you likely know from our past posts, like our guide to Icelandic waterfalls and the more domestic New Hampshire waterfalls, we’re big fans of falling water. There’s just something so primally awe-inspiring about a waterfall. The way the water cuts through the rocks around it from millions of years of erosion. The way the water wavers and bends like something alive. The way the roar of the water reverberates through your bones.

Now, it can be really hard to top the excellent waterfalls in Iceland, but we get it; it’s a hard sell taking an international trip for hiking. While we heartily recommend it, there are plenty of great hikes and waterfalls you can visit here in the States. Washington has some of the best in the nation, but which ones are worth visiting? Let’s go through the list of the best waterfalls in Washington State.

Snoqualmie Falls

Located less than an hour away from Seattle, the Snoqualmie Waterfall is one of the largest and most famous falls in the state. It’s 270 feet tall, and if you’re a fan of classic television, you’ve even seen it before. This waterfall is featured in the opening credits of the hit show Twin Peaks!

Snoqualmie Falls

The falls themselves are very easy to get to, and there is an interpretive trail laced with native history, along with a lodge and spa nearby. Springtime is the best to visit if you want the largest and most rapid falls, but if it’s still a little chilly for you, summer is also great.

Spray Falls

One of the numerous falls you can find in Mount Rainier National Park – a name you’ll see come up a lot if you’re interested in hikes and other natural adventures in Washington – the Spray Falls is a broad, multi-channel cascade down a rocky slope.

The hike to see the falls is about two and a half miles, and you can reach it from the Wonderland trail. It’s a relatively simple and easy hike there and back, or you can keep going all around the mountain if you’re in it for the long haul. Since the Wonderland trail is the only trail that fully circles the mountain, it’s a great adventure if you can handle it.

Sol Duc Falls

A 1.6-mile hike takes you there and back with a rather leisurely walk out on the Olympic Peninsula to see the Sol Duc Falls. Since it’s part of Olympic National Park, you’ll need to have a park pass to reach these falls, but it’s such an easy jaunt that it’s easy to go whenever you’re in the area. As an added bonus, reaching these falls is one part of the larger High Divide, an excellent backpacking trail through the park.

Sol Duc Falls

The falls themselves aren’t the most impressive on this list, but they’re definitely idyllic, and the rest of the park is excellent, too.

Narada Falls

Another waterfall located in the Mount Rainier area, this cascade is often overlooked as little more than a pitstop on the way to more popular areas of the Mount Rainier National Park. Yet, when you see the falls, you’ll believe us when we say that everyone who skips it is missing out.

It’s not the largest or most impressive waterfall we’ve ever seen, but it’s still an incredible sight so close to the trails you’re already hiking.

Falls Creek Falls

When the creek that feeds the falls is named after the falls, you know it’s going to be good. And, yeah, Falls Creek delivers. It’s a longer trip, 3.4 miles, and it’s moderately difficult, so it’s not something you should do for your first trek into the wilderness. But, if you’re in the area, it’s a great one to visit.

Falls Creek Falls

What area, you may ask? Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Columbia River Gorge! You’ll need a northwest forest pass to park there, but it’s a great place to visit, no matter how you slice it. If you can take the hike, the reward is worth it. The only downside is how far away from everything else it is, but that’s not a problem for us adventurers, now is it?

Panther Creek Falls

Another waterfall is located in Gifford Pinchot National Forest; these falls are ten miles north of the river gorge and are one of the larger waterfalls on this list. It’s not one huge single cascade but a wall of water tumbling down a rocky cliff face.

Panther Creek Falls

It’s also relatively easy to get to. Take Forest Service Road 65 to the trailhead, and you’ll have half a mile of trail between you and the viewing platform, where the falls tumble down into a pool 70 feet below.

Palouse Falls

These falls are one of the top tourist destinations in the state and with good reason. It’s not just the falls that you’re there to see; it’s the whole of the canyon around it. The falls themselves tumble off a cliff and over 200 feet into a massive bowl, where they then spill into a river that winds its way through a frankly astonishingly beautiful gorge.

Palouse Falls

Not only do these falls offer a stunning view, but there’s camping in the area, too, and several incredible observation points around the gorge. Our biggest piece of advice is to avoid going at peak times in summer, as the heat and the stifling humidity make it a thoroughly unpleasant trip. Otherwise, have at it!

Franklin Falls

Another of the more popular falls in Washington, this is also located in the Snoqualmie area and the national forest situated there. The trail to the falls is relatively flat and short, so it’s an easy hike, and since it’s only an hour away from Seattle, it’s a popular getaway for people who want to see a cool waterfall.

The only real downside is its proximity and popularity, making it potentially more well-populated than some of the more isolated and rustic falls on the list. It’s great if you want something close to Seattle and easy to reach; if you’re looking for isolated wilderness and untouched gems of land, you’ll want somewhere else.

Spokane Falls

For those of you with small children or who want to visit falls in your own backyard, Spokane has its very own set of waterfalls right there in the city. The Upper and Lower Falls, located in the riverfront park, aren’t the tallest or the widest or the loudest, but they’re extremely convenient and easy to visit, and they’re one part of the wonder and fun that is Spokane.

There’s even a SkyRide cable car that can take you over the falls and pedestrian bridges that offer great views of the upper falls. You can’t beat these as convenient to the city, that’s for sure.

Whatcom Falls

Whatcom Falls is one of the crown jewels in the park that shares its name. A vintage bridge grants you entrance to over three miles of trails throughout the park, showing you a variety of water features and landscapes that give you a microcosm of the whole of Washington in many ways.

Plus, since it’s a nice and well-kept park, you have picnic shelters, historical markers, interpretive displays, and even a fish hatchery that has educational content and more. There’s even a swimming hole if you want to take a dip in the pristine waters. Bellingham is also a pretty nice little place to visit, so this is really a comprehensive getaway and a great way to spend a hot summer day.

Twin Falls

Twin Falls is another waterfall in general proximity to Seattle in the Snoqualmie area. Though the name Twin Falls is kind of a misnomer, it’s kind of a broad series of small falls chained together, with one gap in the middle, hence the twin moniker. You can also continue along the trails and explore more of the park to see other falls, like the Weeks Falls.

For those who want to go on an extended adventure, the long-haul 212-mile Palouse to Cascades trail goes through this area as well. These kinds of lengthy adventures aren’t for the faint of heart or frail of body, however, so make sure you’re absolutely prepared before you embark on such a journey.

Marymere Falls

Olympic National Park is host to a handful of excellent waterfalls and a lot of excellent trails, but the most popular of the falls is Marymere. It’s a 90-foot waterfall with a great scenic region below it where the trail passes, and many people use it as a place to stop and have lunch in the middle of a longer hike.

Marymere Falls

The trailhead is a ways out – you’ll be going about half an hour from Port Angeles – but the hike itself is only two miles round-trip to the falls and back. Plan for a bit more time than you normally would spend on two miles, though, as the landscape is definitely worth appreciating.

Myrtle Falls

One of the more photogenic falls on this list, Myrtle isn’t the largest or the most impressive, but it’s situated perfectly so that any good photograph you take – on a clear day, anyway – captures not just the falls but the brilliant slopes of Mount Rainier itself in the background.

The trek to the falls is under a mile, though you do need the national parks pass to get into the Mount Rainier area like several others on this list. You can also keep going along the Skyline trail and do the whole five-and-a-half-mile trip if you prefer.

Little Mashel Falls

When a fall is named little, is it really worth visiting? Well, that’s for you to decide. Another fall in the area of Mount Rainier, Little Mashel, is a pretty small waterfall, and it’s definitely not one of the most impressive around. There are a few things that make these falls stand out, though.

First, the hike in, while easy, is on the longer side, and it’s gorgeous, especially when fall foliage is in full swing. It’s also actually three waterfalls, the lower, middle, and upper falls. Upper is the smallest of the three, and the lower is the largest, but the middle is special in that you can go behind them if you’re willing to get a little wet. Overall, it’s a fun and beautiful trek with a waterfall you can really get up close and personal with, and that’s always an incredible experience.

Your Favorites Here

If Montana is the land of ten thousand lakes, Washington is the land of ten thousand waterfalls. In fact, there are so many waterfalls of varying sizes all throughout the state that many of them aren’t even pinned on maps, located officially, or even named. It really does seem like anywhere you turn, there’s going to be an incredible water feature to see.

A Beautiful Waterfall

This list is by no means comprehensive for that exact reason. There are just so many options; it’s impossible to cover them all. So, that’s where you come in. If you’re a Washington resident or frequent visitor and you have a favorite waterfall we didn’t list, feel free to tell us all about it in the comments! Maybe we’ll find the opportunity to visit, but even if we can’t, we’ll still take your word for it.

In the meantime, why not check out some of our other tips, guides, and adventures? For example, here’s our guide to visiting Mount Rainier, and if you’re looking for an adventure with a longer distance traveled, here’s our ideal itinerary for a Washington road trip. Our blog is packed with great resources and adventures to have, so give it a look!

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