15 Amazing Waterfalls in Minnesota

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Minnesota in the Mid-West has a border with Canada in the north and Lake Superior to the east.

One of the State’s own lakes – Itasca – is the source of the mighty Mississippi, which flows out into the Gulf of Mexico.

Water plays a hugely important role in the state.

A waterfall actually played an important part in the City of Minneapolis in Minnesota: St. Anthony Falls provided the power for local flour mills and the lumber trade.

Minnesota has many lovely waterfalls, some amid cities and others in the rural environment.

From St. Anthony to Great Portage State Park where the state’s highest falls are located, the journey to 15 Amazing Waterfalls in Minnesota is a real adventure.

1. St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis

St. Anthony Falls, MinneapolisSource: Jim Guy / shutterstock
St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis

The power of these falls is the main reason Minneapolis developed into the important city it is today.

They are in the heart of the city, with the best views being in Water Power Park on Main Street.

Alternatively, head to Stone Arch Bridge.

You are looking at the early stages of the Mississippi River.

People never seem to tire of the skyline and this mighty river.

They had Native American Indian names before they were given their present name by Father Hennepiin in 1680. The falls required some stabilization in the 1930’s due to poor engineering.

2. Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis

Minnehaha Falls, MinneapolisSource: AMB-MD Photography / shutterstock
Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis

The popularity of these 53-foot falls in Minnehaha Park is understandable because of their proximity to the city and the fact that you can hear the water soon after you enter the park.

The flow is at its height after the winter snow melts, but there are plenty of visitors in the winter when the falls freeze over.

Winters are cold in Minneapolis, so the icicles of the falls are guaranteed.

They are the falls mentioned in Longfellow’s ‘’ Song of Hiawatha.’’

Aside from the views from above, you can go down either side of the falls to get different angles.

3. Hidden Falls, St. Paul

Hidden Falls, St. PaulSource: Sam Wagner / shutterstock
Hidden Falls, St. Paul

Those looking to avoid weekend crowds may like to pick these spring-fed falls close to Minnehaha, in Hidden Falls Regional Park.

There are seven miles of paved trails, but to find the falls, you must leave the paved route.

They are surprisingly elusive, so follow a trail at the North Entrance behind the female restroom.

You may not hear them, because there is only really a strong flow after heavy rains or in the springtime.

Indeed, they can be dry at times during the year.

4. Shadow Falls, St. Paul

Shadow Falls, St. PaulSource: Dan Leisen / Facebook
Shadow Falls, St. Paul

These little-known Falls are fed from underground springs, with the water finally reaching the Mississippi.

One of the highlights of a visit is that you can get behind the falls, a reward for an interesting journey in getting there.

It is easy enough to find Shadow Falls Park because it is in St. Paul’s, but then the fun starts.

After parking, follow the path until it bends, then take a dirt path where there is a warning about ice climbing.

There are other routes to the falls but they are far more difficult.

5. Ramsey Falls, Ramsey Park

Ramsey Falls, MinnesotaSource: PBouman / shutterstock
Ramsey Falls

The nickname for this park is ‘’Little Yellowstone,’’ and the highlight of any visit is certainly the Ramsey Falls, which have some good vantage points.

While it is a two-hour drive from the city, this park has become a popular day-trip for families.

The parking lot is just a short distance from the falls themselves, though, in total, there are four miles of paved trails for hikers.

Campers will find plenty to do apart from looking at the falls.

A museum and a small zoo are two other attractions.

6. Wolf Creek Falls, Sandstone, Banning State Park

Wolf Creek Falls, Sandstone, Banning State ParkSource: Linda McKusick / shutterstock
Wolf Creek Falls, Sandstone, Banning State Park

The falls make a great photograph, with the rapids truly impressive.

The park attracts plenty of people who want to test themselves against the whitewater.

The names “Blueberry Slide,” “Dragon’s tooth,” and “Hell’s Gate,’’ for different stretches of whitewater conjure up ideas of the challenges that await.

Once you are within the park, you have a half mile walk to the falls.

Some people prefer a more adventurous route, kayaking upstream from Robinson Park.

Either way, the falls are worth a visit.

7. Willow River Falls, Willow River State Park, Hudson

Willow River Falls, WisconsinSource: John Brueske / shutterstock
Willow River Falls

These stunning falls descend over several ledges into a 200-foot deep gorge en route to the St. Croix River.

You have just a short walk from the beginning of the trail before you will hear and see the cascades.

Four different places offer the chance of different photographs.

The park covers a little under 3,000 acres, and with so many trails, it is a shame just to spend a single day there – camping facilities mean that you don’t have to.

There is even a beach to enjoy in the summer months and excellent picnic facilities near the Little Falls Lake.

8. Cascade Falls, Cascade River State Park

Cascade Falls, Cascade River State ParkSource: dvande / shutterstock
Cascade Falls, Cascade River State Park

This is a volcanic region formed billions of years ago.

On just a three-mile stretch of river flowing into Lake Superior, there is a descent of around 900 feet.

A convenient campsite is close to one of the main falls, so there is no reason to hurry away.

The highest of the Falls is around 30 feet – one of four within the last 400 yards to the lake.

There are trails either side of the water, with a bridge, making it potentially a loop.

Springtime or just after heavy rains are the best time to visit.

9. Gooseberry Falls, Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls, Gooseberry Falls State ParkSource: Jacob Boomsma / shutterstock
Gooseberry Falls, Gooseberry Falls State Park

If you love waterfalls, you will be in heaven here – there are five in all.

When they are in full-flood, which is generally in the spring, they are truly spectacular.

The park covers 1,600 acres and offers around 20 different trails just inviting hikers and bikers to explore.

You can camp and swim and also see Lake Superior when you visit the falls.

Its Native American name is ‘Gitchi Gami’ and there is a trail of that name that has proven to be popular.

Expect to encounter crowds at weekends.

10. High Falls, Tettegouche State Park

High Falls, Tettegouche State ParkSource: AMB-MD Photography / shutterstock
High Falls, Tettegouche State Park

At 100 feet, these falls on the Baptism River are among the highest in the state.

You can take one of two trails to reach them, with the shorter walk about a mile and a half.

Several different photographs are possible from above, on the boardwalk, or the stairs that lead down to the base.

A little further on, you will find Two-Step Falls.

When they are in full flood, the two cascades of water flowing down are especially impressive, so pick your time to go – springtime or after heavy rains are ideal.

11. High Falls, Pigeon River, Grand Portage State Park

High Falls, Pigeon River, Grand Portage State ParkSource: natmac stock / shutterstock
High Falls, Pigeon River, Grand Portage State Park

These 120-foot falls are Minnesota’s highest at 120 feet.

They are right on the Canadian border and part of the overall water system is in Canada.

The sound of the water means they are very easy to find; you will hear them long before you have completed the half-mile walk to reach them.

Once there, you have a choice of observation points.

The land is actually leased by the state from the Chippewa Indians on the condition that it will remain a State Park.

The American side is often busy, with a visitor center close to the car park.

12. Vermillion Falls, Hastings

Vermillion Falls, HastingsSource: melissamn / shutterstock
Vermillion Falls, Hastings

The urban location in downtown Hastings makes these 35-foot falls a popular attraction.

However, the best views are more difficult to find than the ones from the trail.

At one time, they provided power and there is still a factory close by.

The trail running alongside the Vermilion River appeals to walkers, cyclists, and bikers.

It is a great place for a family picnic in the months of summer.

While there are no organized trails down into the gorge, people regularly head down there – take care if you fancy that.

13. Minneopa Falls, Mankato

Minneopa Fall, MankatoSource: chamski / shutterstock
Minneopa Fall, Mankato

Most of Minnesota’s waterfalls are in the north, but this is an exception.

The waterfall is 40 feet high, with the Minneopa State Park having around four miles of trails to enjoy.

Apart from the waterfall, there are wild bison in the reserve, so you can enjoy two rare sights on the same day.

There is a small fee to enter the State Park but the money is worth it.

The falls are in the smaller southern part of the park and are well-signposted.

Spring and fall are the best seasons for a visit because the water flow can almost dry up at the height of summer.

14. Minnemishinona Falls, North Mankato

Minnemishinona Falls, North MankatoSource: John Brueske / shutterstock
Minnemishinona Falls, North Mankato

These little-known falls were on private property until the county bought them under a decade ago.

The drop is 42 feet, with the water descending into a small pool before heading down a gorge and on to the Minnesota River.

The possibility of these beautiful falls being lost because of private development has been removed, and the county has plans to improve the visitor infrastructure.

They cannot really be seen from the highway, which is part of their attraction; there is just the sound of water in a tranquil setting.

15. Devil’s Kettle, Judge C.R. Magney State Park

Devil’s Kettle, Judge C.R. Magney State ParkSource: Ralf Broskvar / shutterstock
Devil’s Kettle, Judge C.R. Magney State Park

The name of these falls suggests mystery and, to an extent, it is accurate.

Water descends in a small pool that does not seem to fill up but there is no sign of any water escaping.

Just last year, it seems the mystery was solved when the Department of Natural Resources got to work.

The flow above the falls and then downstream were measured and it proved the water was not disappearing underground – it was all an optical illusion.

The area is lovely, with trails making exploration easy.

15 Amazing Waterfalls in Minnesota:

  • St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis
  • Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis
  • Hidden Falls, St. Paul
  • Shadow Falls, St. Paul
  • Ramsey Falls, Ramsey Park
  • Wolf Creek Falls, Sandstone, Banning State Park
  • Willow River Falls, Willow River State Park, Hudson
  • Cascade Falls, Cascade River State Park
  • Gooseberry Falls, Gooseberry Falls State Park
  • High Falls, Tettegouche State Park
  • High Falls, Pigeon River, Grand Portage State Park
  • Vermillion Falls, Hastings
  • Minneopa Falls, Mankato
  • Minnemishinona Falls, North Mankato
  • Devil’s Kettle, Judge C.R. Magney State Park