While waterfalls churn and roar in spring, summer waterfalls share cooling, rainbow-hued mists and beautiful pools with those who’ve traveled miles for a peek. Here’s a roundup of waterfalls across the state, from Eastern Washington’s arid mesas to the Olympic Peninsula’s lush rainforests. Take a road trip — or several — to enjoy waterfalls and let the world fall away.

Eastern Washington waterfalls

Enjoy a picnic lunch while watching our state’s waterfall pour into a churning bowl below. The 198-foot Palouse Falls is Washington state’s official waterfall, juxtaposed among the dry basalt plateaus about 100 miles southwest of Spokane. The Palouse Falls State Park Heritage Site‘s picnic benches overlook one of the last active waterfalls on the ancient Ice Age flood path. 

For an alternative, visit a ghost waterfall of sorts. Dry Falls was once the site of one of the world’s largest waterfalls — during the Ice Age floods. You can pull right up to the now-dry top or hike around Umatilla Rock via Monument Coulee at the state park for an otherworldly, bottom-of-the-bowl experience.

Mount Rainier waterfall road trip

Most of Washington’s spectacular and approachable falls splash down west of the Cascades. Mount Rainier’s glaciers and snowmelt feed more than 150 waterfalls within the national park’s boundaries alone.

You’ll find a wide variety of waterfall types, including dramatic plunges, ethereal veils, graceful horsetails and photogenic cascades along hikes ranging from easy to difficult. Mount Rainier area waterfalls range from the petite 10-foot Goat Falls just outside the park boundaries to the popular Narada Falls — the hike to the bottom is best done in drier summer months, according to local experts.

After all, some falls are best visited (or only accessible) in summer. Mount Rainier-area summer hikes include the 72-foot Myrtle Falls (one of the park’s most photographed), and more strenuous summer outings to the 354-foot Spray Falls and 462-foot Comet Falls’ three-tier plunges. Road trippers can pull over to view the lesser-known 250-foot Lava Creek Falls on the Cowlitz River.

Olympic Peninsula waterfall road trip

The Olympics’ snow and glaciers — combined with incoming Pacific storm systems — provide plenty of the main ingredient for a stunning variety of waterfalls in northwest Washington. Punchbowl beauties surrounded by moss-covered, old-growth rainforest are a hallmark of the Olympic Peninsula.

The Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail threads through the green, misty quilt of the Olympic National Park. The trail loops through 20 sites within seven different areas, including the Quinault and Hoh rainforests, Hood Canal, Sol Duc and the coastline. During August’s heat, a road trip through the region offers solace.

Hardcore waterfall fans may want to explore Enchanted Valley, known as the “Valley of 10,000 Waterfalls,” which requires a 13-plus-mile backpacking trip in the Quinault Rain Forest. If you’re not up for that effort, visit lush Sol Duc Falls in the lowland forests and the wheelchair-accessible one-way 0.1-mile Madison Falls near the Elwha River. The famous 90-foot Marymere Falls pours near Lake Crescent and is accessible via a hike only around two miles round trip.

Central and North Cascades waterfall road trip

Only minutes from Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls is perhaps one of the most well-known in Washington state — and always busy. Escape the crowds by hiking down the informative, beautiful 0.7-mile trail that ends at a viewing platform at the falls’ base. This short, low-elevation-gain family-friendly hike features plaques providing names of the plants, trees and flowers encountered along the way.

Farther north, a road trip on the Stevens Pass Greenway/National Scenic Byway takes visitors through the Cascades, where a hike brings you to Bridal Veil Falls’ translucent sheets of water down a 100-foot rock face. Deception Falls offers interpretive signage along a half-mile trail so you can brush up on Northwest facts en route to the 65-foot falls.

If hoping to immerse yourself for the weekend, backtrack to Wallace Falls State Park’s tent sites and reservable cabins, so you can revisit the three-tiered, 265-foot Wallace Falls at your leisure or hike the 12 miles of park trails.


Along the North Cascades Scenic Highway, Ladder Creek Falls near Newhalem offers an unusual experience. In the evenings, a 15-minute repeating program illuminates the short (0.5 miles round trip) trail from dusk until midnight. A narrow suspension bridge provides thrills, too.

Several of the largest waterfalls in North America (900+ foot stunners) are rumored to be located in the most remote, inaccessible corners of the North Cascades National Park. [1] Just the sort of place a Sasquatch might cool off, perhaps.

Note: For more waterfalls, see the 3000-plus falls cataloged on the monumental site, Northwest Waterfall Survey. Before you hike, read Washington Trails Association’s guide on photographing waterfalls and extensive trail reports.

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