Information Page

Rankings

I think there is beauty in all waterfalls. Even small falls can be very appealing and worth seeing. Nevertheless, when comparing waterfalls to each other, the large and powerful will easily win out over the small and dainty. Some waterfalls (even large ones) are disappointing to see, especially if there is no good view of the falls.

Ranking waterfalls is highly subjective. What may rank as awesome and amazing to me may be not so great to someone else. Others have tried to rank waterfalls using highly detailed and complex formulas so you can compare waterfalls to each other and determine more precisely if one is better than another, but this is still a subjective task. I used to use a 10 point rating system on this site, but now have gone back to a five point star rating system. I made this change for a variety of reasons, but I think I mainly just want to portray a general feeling of how good or great a waterfall is.

Best of the best, very awesome
Very great
Very good
Good
Okay, not bad, perhaps disappointing

Icons




These indicate how difficult it is to reach the waterfall. If it is along the roadside, or is a short, fairly level hike, then it is easy. Moderate and strenuous are more difficult, longer, hikes. A very strenuous hike is only for insane people like myself.
Clicking on the map icon will show a detailed map of the waterfall's location and hiking trail (if any). Right now we have maps for all California and Oregon waterfalls. Please note that these maps are quite large, 100K - 200K or more. If you don't have a fast connection, they could be slow in loading. Also note that the maps may or may not be completely accurate.
If you own National Geographic USGS Topographic maps on CD-ROM for California or Oregon, then you can download the .tpo and .tpg maps that I have created for usage in your own program. If you don't own this program, you can still view the maps, of course, by clicking on the Map icon.
If you see the buy photo icon beside a waterfall picture, this means the waterfall picture is available for purchase as an enlarged print. Clicking on the icon will transfer you to the gallery page for the waterfall, where you can select your size and options for purchasing the print.



These indicate if the waterfall is along the roadside, or if you have to hike to the falls, or backpack, or take a boat to get to the falls. If the waterfall is roadside, there could still be a short walk from the parking area to reach the viewpoint.

This indicates if the waterfall is wheelchair accessible. If you don't see this icon, then it is not wheelchair accessible (as far as I can tell). Most roadside waterfalls would be wheelchair accessible, but not all (there could be a short walk from the parking area in order to get to the falls viewpoint).
This indicates if you can ride a mountain bike along the trail to get to the waterfall. If the trail is quite difficult with lots of scrambling or very steep sections, then I did not include the icon. Also, most trails in parks do not allow bikes on trails.

These indicate if dogs are allowed on the trail to the waterfall or not. In the U.S., most national parks and many state parks do not allow dogs on trails. This is a huge peeve with me. Why shouldn't dogs be allowed on trails? They don't mess up the trails more than humans do (less, actually). In Canadian parks, dogs are pretty much allowed on all hiking trails (all right!).

Waterfall Forms

Block A wide waterfall, wider than it is tall.
Cascade Descends over a slope in a series of small steps, or along a rough sloping surface. May be a gradual or steep descent.
Curtain A wide waterfall, taller than it is wide.
Fan The breadth of the water increases toward the bottom of the waterfall, so it is much wider at the bottom.
Horsetail Waterfall maintains contact with the surface for most of its length. May be a vertical or gradual descent.
Plunge Waterfall descends vertically, losing contact with the surface for most of its length.
Punchbowl Narrow waterfall, shot outward into large pool.
Segmented Waterfall is broken up into two or more streams descending over the falls.
Tiered Waterfall consists of two or more distinct falls close together.

Disclaimer

Due to their very nature, waterfalls can be located in very dangerous places. Many people have died falling over the brink of a waterfall, or scrambling on a steep cliff, slippery, or rocky area to get a better view. Please be very careful when visiting all waterfalls. I take no responsibility for any trouble, injury, or death you or a loved one may experience when visiting any waterfalls on my pages. I also take no responsibility if you get lost following (or trying to follow) my directions or advice. Although I have done my best to provide accurate and easy-to-follow directions, there could still possibly be errors on some of my web pages.

Recommended Waterfall Books

  California Waterfalls by Ann Marie Brown - A must have book for waterfalls in the Golden State. Excellent descriptions and directions. Lists all major falls in California, and many obscure ones.

  A Waterfall Lover's Guide to the Pacific Northwest by Gregory Plumb. Covers waterfalls in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. The descriptions and details are on the shallow side, but it does cover all major waterfalls in these states.

  Hiking Yosemite National Park by Suzanne Swedo. A Falcon Guide. This is probably the best of the hiking books I have on Yosemite. It has descriptions to most of the waterfalls in the park.

  Exploring Wells Gray Park by Roland Neave. An excellent resource and hiking book for Wells Gray Park in B.C. It covers most waterfalls in the park, except ones that may be inaccessible.

  The American River by PARC (Protect American River Canyons). One of the best recreational guide books I have ever read. Contains excellent hiking, rafting, and historical information on the North, Middle, and South forks of the American River. Mentions quite a few popular and obscure waterfalls.

  The Definitive Guide to Waterfalls of Southern and Central California by Chris Shaffer. A nice companion to Brown's book for southern California. Lots of pictures.

  The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and their Discovery by Rubinstein, Whittlesey, and Stevens. The most complete guide to Yellowstone waterfalls period. Many excellent photographs.

  Niagara - A History of the Falls by Pierre Berton. An excellent book covering the history of Niagara Falls.

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