With its generally moderate temperatures, plentiful precipitation, towering cliffs and rushing rivers, Oregon is an ideal place to go chasing waterfalls. In fact, there are more than 200 named waterfalls across the state, spanning from the rugged coast and lush valleys to the alpine wilderness and famed Columbia River Gorge. That means no matter where your Oregon vacation might take you, you likely won’t be too far from a scenic cascade. Some of Oregon’s prettiest falls are easily accessible via a short walk from a paved parking lot, while others require a more rigorous trek to reach. Read on to learn about 16 of the most beautiful Oregon waterfalls.
Multnomah Falls is located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in northwest Oregon, about 30 miles east of Portland. One of the tallest year-round waterfalls in the United States, Multnomah Falls attracts more travelers than any other natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest. With 2 million visitors annually, this destination requires timed reservation tickets during the summer months. The 620-foot falls, which consist of two different cascades, are fed by underground springs, and the runoff is usually highest in the winter and spring (typical of most Oregon waterfalls). At Multnomah Falls Lodge, built in 1925, you can access a viewing platform and area hiking trails. Consider walking along a quarter-mile paved trail to Benson Bridge, a footbridge that connects the lower and higher cascades. The U.S. Forest Service Information Center is also located at the lodge, as well as a snack bar, a gift shop and a restaurant. Accommodations are not available at the historic property, but campgrounds abound in the Columbia River Gorge area. Otherwise, travelers can retire for the evening along a scenic riverbank at the Best Western Plus Columbia River Inn, located 13 miles east.
If your travel adventures bring you to popular Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, you might also consider scooting west along the Historic Columbia River Highway to check out Wahkeena Falls. You can view these 242-foot falls from an accessible platform or hike up Wahkeena Trail, which includes some switchbacks, to get closer to the action and feel the spray of the water. In fact, there’s a whole network of trails to accommodate even advanced hikers hoping to traipse through the pristine wilderness for miles. North of the highway is an accessible picnic area: a convenient place to stop, rest and refuel. Or, spend even more time at Benson State Recreation Area, which features a disc golf course and a lake for swimming and fishing. For overnight accommodations in this area, consider a hotel east of Portland, such as the Holiday Inn Express Portland East – Troutdale.
Just over a mile from the Wahkeena Trailhead in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, you’ll reach a lovely example of a fan waterfall, where a narrow stream of water from the top fans out into a wider flow at the bottom. Fairy Falls measures less than 30 feet tall but is known to provide excellent photo opportunities. Past visitors say the parking area for the Fairy Falls Trailhead can be quite busy in the summer months, so you might want to plan to start your day here early. Less than 15 miles west of the parking area is the Comfort Inn Troutdale-Portland East, which offers daily hot breakfast for guests.
These remote falls may be a little hard to reach, but past visitors say the scenic spot is well worth the effort. The parking lot for the Abiqua Falls Trailhead is about a 35-mile drive east of Oregon’s capital, Salem, or 11 miles south of the town of Scott’s Mills. According to the hiking website AllTrails, the 0.7-mile, out-and-back trail is moderately challenging. Hikers note that the dirt road to the trailhead is best suited for a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle (though you can park on the side of the road and make the hike to the falls a bit longer). Note that the final descent to the falls is a bit steep, but there’s a fixed rope you can use to help with the climb. For lodging, Camp Dakota is a 45-acre forested campground and adventure park just a short drive from the Abiqua Falls Trailhead, along Crooked Finger Road. Further afield, consider booking a stay at the highly rated Oregon Garden Resort in Silverton.
Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is located about 30 miles east of Portland along the Historic Columbia River Highway. If you want to see the two-tiered cascade up close, plan to descend a steep trail at the Bridal Veils Falls State Scenic Viewpoint for about a third of a mile. State Park officials request visitors don’t try to view the falls from the narrow highway; it’s safer to hike down the trail away from cars. Also consider the half-mile Overlook Trail, which affords expansive views of the Columbia River. Bridal Veil Lodge, originally built in 1926, is located across the street from the falls and features queen-bed cottage rooms. If you’re traveling with a group, consider renting a four-bedroom room at the main lodge.
Ki-a-Kuts Falls stands along the Tualatin River in a remote part of Oregon about 50 miles west of Portland. A relatively new waterfall on Oregon maps, Ki-a-Kuts Falls was officially dedicated in 1999 for Chief Ki-a-Kuts of the Atfalati tribe of Native Americans. Reaching the narrow 40-foot chute requires a rugged hike accessible via private logging roads, which do not have cell service. As such, it is advisable to carry a paper topo map and make note of the GPS coordinates (45.46639, -123.38694). These falls are tough to get to, but your reward is an opportunity to rest and reflect in nature with few people around. Because of the falls’ location far from civilization, there are no lodging accommodations or commercial campgrounds nearby.
Located in Mount Hood National Forest about 50 miles east of Portland, Ramona Falls is accessible via a 3.5-mile hike from Ramona Falls Trailhead. You’ll walk along the Sandy River Trail, which involves crossing the Sandy River without any footbridges. As such, visitors should come prepared with hiking poles and proper footwear (or plan to remove their socks and shoes). Sandy River Trail is also an equestrian path, so you may see adventurers on horseback. Past visitors to this fan waterfall note the cascades appear to glow at times. The trail can get busy in warm-weather months, as the forest cover provides a cool respite from the summer heat. Backcountry camping is allowed, but there are no amenities in this remote spot, so be sure to take all of your trash with you when you leave. Or, for a less rugged stay, head to Whispering Woods Resort in Welches, less than 10 miles from the Ramona Falls Trailhead. A closer, in-between option is Lost Creek Campground, which offers drive-to and walk-to tent campsites. There are also two yurts that can accommodate six campers each.
Tamanawas Falls sits east of majestic, snow-covered Mount Hood. Visiting this 100-foot-tall, 40-foot-wide cascade requires a short 1-mile hike from the Tamanawas Falls Trailhead. The U.S. Forest Service says this trailhead, which is 25 miles south of the town of Hood River and has picnic tables and restrooms, is among the most popular in the Mount Hood National Forest. Arrive at the parking lot early if you want a guaranteed spot, especially on summer weekends. The route follows Cold Spring Creek, and past hikers note it can be slippery in parts, especially in the spring with recent snowmelt. Sherwood Campground on Highway 35 has the closest campsites to the Tamanawas Falls Trailhead, and it offers spots for both tents and RVs (though there are no electric hookups).
Toketee Falls is in south-central Oregon’s Douglas County. Toketee is a Chinook word meaning “graceful,” and it accurately describes these falls that cascade in two tiers: The first drops 19 feet out of a slot canyon, and the second tier tumbles 80 feet into a large pool. To reach the falls, start at the Toketee Falls Trailhead, just off Highway 138 about 20 miles northwest of Diamond Lake. The scenic trail in Umpqua National Forest allows for glimpses of the North Umpqua River, and the path passes through Douglas fir, Western red cedar and other trees. The walk to the falls is less than a mile long. Boulder Flat Campground sits 7 miles west on Highway 138, and it offers nine campsites with picnic tables and fire pits. Or drive a bit further to reach Steamboat Inn, which is located on the North Umpqua River and accommodates guests in suites, cabins, cottages and houses.
South Umpqua Falls
South Umpqua Falls is a popular, use-at-your-own-risk water playground in Umpqua National Forest, west of Crater Lake National Park. Outdoor enthusiasts seek out these 15-foot falls to jump from the cliffs, careen down a natural waterslide and cool off in multiple pools. Use caution when navigating the slippery rocks; water shoes are recommended. To find these falls, navigate to South Umpqua Falls Campground, then cross Forest Highway 28 and walk northeast along the road for 0.2 miles. The campground makes a great home base for local exploration in this remote area thanks to its 19 campsites, picnic tables and fire pits.
Less than 15 miles west of Bend in central Oregon, Tumalo Falls is a dramatic 97-foot cascade whose viewpoint you can reach via a short walk from the Tumalo Falls Trailhead. Traipse a little farther along the trail and you’ll find yourself above the falls looking out over the water’s edge — a unique vantage point. Turn around here and head back to where you parked at the Tumalo Falls Day Use Area, or if you’re feeling energetic and have time, you can continue on for less than a mile to view Double Falls. Past visitors say the hike is not strenuous and is good for families. A popular tourist town, Bend has loads of options for lodging. One of the closest moderately priced hotels to the trailhead is the Best Western Premier Peppertree Inn at Bend, which offers complimentary breakfast and an indoor pool.
Seeing a waterfall up close and feeling its powerful spray is certainly exciting. Even more thrilling? Witnessing nature’s force from behind a thundering cascade. You can do just that at Silver Falls State Park in northwest Oregon, about 25 miles east of Salem. To walk behind the 177-foot South Falls, first park at the South Falls Day Use Area. From here, you can access the Trail of Ten Falls, a moderate 7.2-mile loop with 10 different waterfalls to snap photos of along the way. You can also enter and access the falls at different points, so you don’t have to do the full loop to see additional cascades here. This popular day-use area also has picnic tables, a playground and a dog park. The main campground in the state park features both tent and RV campsites, as well as cabins. An additional lodging option within the state park is Smith Creek Village, which has cabins, cottages and lodges, plus an on-site restaurant serving breakfast and lunch.
Salt Creek Falls
Standing 286 feet, Salt Creek Falls in Willamette National Forest is the state’s second-tallest single cascade. The convenient Salt Creek Falls Observation Site and Picnic Area along Highway 58 (about 65 miles southeast of Eugene) makes it easy to view this powerful body of water. An accessible viewing platform at the top of the falls is just 50 yards from the day-use parking lot. There’s also a loop gravel trail where hikers can take in various canyon views. Nearby accommodations in Lane County include the pet- and budget-friendly Oakridge Inn & Suites, which offers free breakfast for guests. Another option to the southeast is Shelter Cove Resort & Marina on Odell Lake, which has family-friendly log cabins and RV sites, as well as a casual restaurant.
If you’re motoring east from Portland and hop on the Historic Columbia River Highway, Latourell Falls is likely the first waterfall you’ll spot as you enter the scenic Columbia River Gorge area. These falls are part of Guy W. Talbot State Park. Here, you’ll find the trailhead just off the highway for a short walk to the base of the 224-foot falls, where you can admire the bright yellow-green lichen (a mix of fungi and algae) on the cliff face. You can also take a longer trek to enjoy a unique vantage point from the top of the falls. This area can get busy with day-trippers from Portland, as the city is just a 30-mile drive away. The city of Troutdale, about 15 miles west, has a number of affordable hotels, including Best Western Plus Cascade Inn & Suites, which comes with a daily hot breakfast buffet for guests.
Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls
These two picturesque falls are located close to one another along the McKenzie River in Willamette National Forest. You can see both on a short out-and-back hike or a longer 2.4-mile loop trail through old-growth forest. One way to start your adventure is by parking at the Sahalie Falls Viewpoint lot just off of Highway 126 (also known as McKenzie Highway). From there, take the fully accessible, short, paved path to see the 75-foot falls. Then, it’s less than a half-mile down a trail to Koosah Falls. In the driest summer months, you might see just one thundering cascade about 70 feet tall, but in the winter and spring, two streams of water often tumble together into a large pool. Nearby camping can be found at Coldwater Cove Campground, which offers 34 campsites on Clear Lake.
Spirit Falls in Umpqua National Forest is about 50 miles southeast of Eugene. A day trip to these falls is ideal for families, as the scenic cascade is accessible via a 0.4-mile hike. This is a shady, forested spot, so it’s very popular in the summer months, when visitors like to cool off in nature. At the base of the 60-foot falls is a shallow pool, where you might spot frogs and salamanders. These falls are found in a remote area of Oregon, so lodging options are slim. Consider Oakridge Inn & Suites (about 20 miles away) or Best Western Cottage Grove Inn off Interstate 5, about 30 miles northwest in Cottage Grove.
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