15 Amazing Waterfalls in New York

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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New York State stretches from New York City itself right up to the Canadian border.

While skyscrapers might dominate the City, when it comes to natural beauty, you have to head out to enjoy the countryside.

And enjoy it you will, because it is a playground for adventure lovers and those who feel at home with nature.

Within New York State, there are some stunning waterfalls; watercourses always display energy and those in the state are certainly no exception.

The colour that comes in the autumn, as the leaves turn yellow and brown before falling to the ground, just adds to the setting.

1. Niagara Falls, Buffalo

Niagara Falls, BuffaloSource: Abdullah Zafar / shutterstock
Niagara Falls, Buffalo

Niagara is regularly included in lists of the top waterfalls in the world, so it demands inclusion here.

It sits on the border between the USA and Canada.

The three waterfalls form the southern end of the Niagara Gorge.

There is a drop of 167 feet and on a hot day at the height of summer, and the mist and spray created by the power of the water help visitors to cool down.

The rate of flow averages out at 85,000 cubic feet per second so there is little chance of freezing even in the coldest weather.

The water comes from Lake Erie and passes on to Lake Ontario before entering the St.

Lawrence River and finally entering the North Atlantic.

2. Indian Brook Falls, Philipstown

Indian Brook FallsSource: Mad Hare / shutterstock
Indian Brook Falls

While few people have heard of these falls other than residents of Philipstown, they are nevertheless impressive.

You will find them among woods just a short walk from the road.

You should not get lost, as long as you have taken directions, and once you arrive you will find water pouring down a narrow gorge.

It is not a place where you can swim but it is certainly worth a photograph, and the route forms part of an interesting walk along a boardwalk through Constitution Marsh.

3. Lower Falls, Genesee River, Rochester

Lower Falls, Genesee River, RochesterSource: Kenneth Keifer / shutterstock
Lower Falls, Genesee River

These falls are in the centre of Rochester so there is no excuse for locals and visitors to the city not to go there.

You can stand on a bridge and look directly at the water as it pours down.

You can get closer for a different perspective of the falls and it is likely you will see fishermen trying their luck at the bottom of the falls.

Despite the urban setting, the falls are within a park, which helps to separate them from surrounding developments.

Visitors can enjoy a pleasant picnic area along a walkway towards the falls and listen to the power of the water.

4. Middle Falls, Genesee River, Letchworth State Park

Middle Falls, Genesee RiverSource: Mike Ver Sprill / shutterstock
Middle Falls, Genesee River

The highlight of Letchworth State Park is definitely the Middle Falls, also on the Genesee River.

They are rectangular in shape and make a wonderful photograph.

A number of trails pass these falls so plenty of people see them on a regular basis.

The height of 107 feet is impressive and the falls are wider than they are tall.

Among the vantage points, you can get a front-on view where you can expect to feel a little spray.

If you get the chance, visit at night during the summer because the Falls are lit up.

5. Upper Falls, Genesee River, Letchworth State Park

Upper Falls, Genesee RiverSource: Mark Rust / shutterstock
Upper Falls, Genesee River

The Upper Falls in comparison to the ‘’Middle’’ are fairly small, with a drop of just 40 feet.

The old railway bridge from the mid-19th century looks down on these falls from a height of over 230 feet.

There is actually the chance of a photograph from a lookout position that looks down the gorge and includes Upper and Middle Falls.

If you add the colours of autumn, the photograph will be one to treasure.

Several vantage points mean you can capture the falls in a number of different ways.

They are just a short walk from the car park and very accessible.

6. Rainbow Falls, Ausable Chasm, Adirondacks

Rainbow Falls, Ausable ChasmSource: cvrestan / shutterstock
Rainbow Falls, Ausable Chasm

The downside of Rainbow Falls is that the flow of the Ausable River is regulated by a hydro-electric power company, but at their best they are spectacular.

The best view is from the bridge above the gorge, although you can go down into the chasm to get closer.

The volume of water is at its height in the spring while a few weeks later, the cooling spray is refreshing.

The trail can be a little slippery close to the falls so you should take extra care.

The falls involve walking some distance so be prepared with comfortable footwear.

7. New Croton Dam, Westchester County

New Croton DamSource: MISHELLA / shutterstock
New Croton Dam

The need for water for a growing population was the reason for building this dam and the creation of a waterfall was an extra benefit.

The dam itself is almost 300 feet high with the reservoir behind capable of holding 34 billion gallons of water.

You cannot swim there but it has become a popular spot for family picnics.

Croton Gorge Park covers just under 100 acres, attracting families, hikers and fishermen from spring onwards, in the winter, cross-country skiing and sledging are regular activities.

The best views of the waterfall are from the bridge above.

8. Chittenango Falls, Madison County

Chittenango FallsSource: Mike Ver Sprill / shutterstock
Chittenango Falls

These falls within the state park of the same name send water rushing down 167 feet over 400 million-year-old rocks.

Once the water finishes its downward spiral, it joins the meandering creek for its onward journey.

You can get a good look at the falls from the top but follow a trail down to the bridge to get a different view.

This has become a popular spot because there is plenty to do; hiking, picnicking or fishing come to mind immediately.

Keep your dog on a leash by the way.

9. Taughannock Falls, Ulysses

Taughannock Falls, UlyssesSource: Rocket Photos - HQ Stock / shutterstock
Taughannock Falls, Ulysses

The Taughannock Falls are said to be the highest falls in the east of the USA. They are found in a gorge where the cliffs are 400 feet above the floor.

The waterfall’s drop is 215 feet between the cliffs.

The park covers 750 acres and offers plenty of opportunity for hiking, camping, fishing and swimming.

Winter sports are also popular during the cold months.

The falls take the shape of an amphitheatre and depending upon the season, the lower stretch of the cataract can be hidden in the spray.

The flow is variable throughout the year but the falls are always the highlight of the park.

10. Watkins Glen Waterfalls, Seneca Lake

Watkins Glen WaterfallsSource: mandritoiu / shutterstock
Watkins Glen Waterfalls

The region of Finger Lakes has a number of lovely glens but Watkins stands out, partly because of its lovely waterfalls.

There is a gorge trail to follow that takes you close to a number of waterfalls, most of which can be viewed from different perspectives.

Four of the waterfalls have been named, and rightly so.

They provide endless opportunities for taking photographs that will sit proudly in your album.

The highest of the cascades, known as Central Cascade, is 60 feet and the force of the water has created small pools at its base.

11. Kaaterskill Falls, Catskill Mountains

Kaaterskill FallsSource: James Parascandola / shutterstock
Kaaterskill Falls

These falls are in fact two in one: two stunning plunges total 260 feet in all.

Imagine seeing them in the autumn surrounded by that season’s colours.

You have a hike to get there and one section, which you can bypass for a longer route, is a fairly narrow ledge.

In such lovely surroundings, why take a risk? The base of the falls is a great place for a photograph.

The falls are sacred to the Mohicans who believe they are the final resting place of the Creator.

You would surely have made a wise choice to have this place as your final resting place.

12. Ithaca Falls, Ithaca

Ithaca Falls, New YorkSource: VirtualV / shutterstock
Ithaca Falls

In the centre of Finger Lakes, these falls on Falls Creek are a great place to cool down on a hot summer’s day.

They are one of the highest in New York State at 150 feet and set in Ithaca Fall Natural Area where there is plenty to see and do.

You can get extremely close to the cascading water.

The ruins of a 19th-century mill are interesting but the natural scenery is more important.

There are trails to follow and the fishing is great.

Families enjoy these falls because they are fairly close to the road so even small children can see them without any real effort.

13. Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca

Buttermilk Falls, IthacaSource: Alexander Sviridov / shutterstock
Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca

Buttermilk Falls State Park’s waterfall is another impressive water feature, with water cascading down 165 feet close to the entrance to the park on the way to Cayuga Lake.

Other small waterfalls in Buttermilk Creek are in close proximity but none match the majesty of this one.

You can swim at the base of these falls, a real pleasure on a hot summer’s day, while the colours of the leaves enhance the setting just a few weeks later.

Hiking is a popular pastime here and everyone has time to stop en route to gaze at the falls.

14. Lucifer Falls, Robert H Treman State Park, Ithaca

Lucifer FallsSource: Colin D. Young / shutterstock
Lucifer Falls

Lucifer Falls, with its 115 feet drop, is one of the highlights of Robert H Treman State Park.

At the base of the falls, there is a lovely pool for cooling off in the summer.

You have to make an effort to get there from the lower car park because it is a 2.5-mile hike, largely uphill.

Good footwear and water are two prerequisites in the summer.

The good news is that the upper car park is fairly close.

The park is popular with families taking a picnic on a day out, and with the scenery so good, they often just sit back and take it all in.

15. Eternal Flame Falls, Orchard Park

Eternal Flame Falls located in Orchard Park, New YorkSource: Christopher P / shutterstock
Eternal Flame Falls

These Falls are not especially large but they are truly special.

Natural gas coming from a small cave allows a flame to burn constantly.

You have to hike to get there although the journey is both beautiful and peaceful.

Scientists are baffled by the true source of the gas because the rocks below are not hot enough to produce gas.

Whatever the source, these waterfalls are there for everyone to enjoy, as long as they are prepared for a walk.

The question is whether your friends will believe you when you show them your photographs.

15 Amazing Waterfalls in New York:

  • Niagara Falls, Buffalo
  • Indian Brook Falls, Philipstown
  • Lower Falls, Genesee River, Rochester
  • Middle Falls, Genesee River, Letchworth State Park
  • Upper Falls, Genesee River, Letchworth State Park
  • Rainbow Falls, Ausable Chasm, Adirondacks
  • New Croton Dam, Westchester County
  • Chittenango Falls, Madison County
  • Taughannock Falls, Ulysses
  • Watkins Glen Waterfalls, Seneca Lake
  • Kaaterskill Falls, Catskill Mountains
  • Ithaca Falls, Ithaca
  • Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca
  • Lucifer Falls, Robert H Treman State Park, Ithaca
  • Eternal Flame Falls, Orchard Park