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10 Best New York Waterfalls + How To Find Them

10 Best New York Waterfalls + How To Find Them

Waterfalls evoke emotion by inspiring us to slow down and appreciate the beauty of nature. This list features the top 10 waterfalls in New York State you should experience at least once in your lifetime.

Many people consider New York State to be filled with yellow taxi cabs, towering skyscrapers and Kevin McCallister’s favorite place to set up traps for Harry and Marv in Home Alone.

But New York State is so much more than its flagship city. In fact, New York State is literally overflowing with waterfalls.

The state of New York is special because you can visit one of the world’s most famous waterfalls on the Canadian border, head North into the Catskills and towering Adirondack Mountains or road trip the dramatic Finger Lakes gorges.

In this guide, we are going to show you the very best New York Waterfalls!

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Our Experience With New York Waterfalls

New York State offers an abundance of stunning photography opportunities and a myriad of gorgeous waterfalls just waiting to be discovered no matter the season.

Kristen grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York State and we have also temporarily lived in the region when Mark first moved to the US in 2019.

Photographing waterfalls in New York was how we spent a lot of our time during the pandemic. These stunning NY waterfalls taught us so much about landscape photography.

Couple posing for a photo at Watkins Glen State Park
Mark and Kristen taking a photo at a New York waterfall

What Can You Expect From This Guide?

This New York waterfalls guide is meant to inspire you to visit beautiful upstate NY to experience these gorgeous cascades for yourself.

Along with the top ten must see waterfalls in New York, you will also find our recommendations for both hotels and restaurants near each waterfall.

We have only suggested the best value for money accommodation options with a focus on great location so you can make the most of your trip.

When originally creating this guide, we were going to list each New York waterfall in a ranked sequence but ultimately decided against this because each NY fall offers something unique.

Instead, we will tell you what makes that particular waterfall special and why you should visit. This list of the best waterfalls in New York State will be listed in alphabetical order.

Before we get into our list, let’s take a look at the well known waterfalls in New York State.

What Is The Name Of The Famous Waterfall In New York?

View of the American and Canadian border with Niagara Falls
View of both the American (left) and Canadian (right) side of Niagara Falls

The most famous waterfall (and also the biggest) in New York State is Niagara Falls. You can find Niagara Falls in the western portion of New York near Buffalo.

What makes Niagara Falls impressive is the sheer size and large amount of water that flows over the falls every second. It’s truly the volume along with the height that makes Niagara Falls a complete knockout.

There are actually 3 waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls (more on this later in our guide) with the largest crest of the falls approximately 2,200 ft (670m) wide and about 180 ft (24m) in height.

Interestingly, many of the daredevils who decide to go over Niagara Falls come into contact with the bottom of the river before coming back to the surface of the Niagara River after their jump.

What Is The Tallest Waterfall In New York?

Tallest waterfall in New York State is Taughannock Falls
Taughannock Falls photographed in late summer

Located in Central New York, near Trumansburg, Taughannock Falls is the tallest free-falling waterfall in the northeastern United States.

Taughannock Falls is 215 ft in height which makes it 33 ft higher than the famous Niagara Falls.

The photo above was taken in late summer after a drought when the water was running extremely low. You can expect much more water from Taughannock Falls during the spring and early summer.

Now, let’s dive right into the 10 best waterfalls in New York State (pun intended)!

1. Chittenango Falls (Chittenango Falls State Park)

Chittenango Falls during the autumn season with beautiful fall foliage
Chittenango Falls and stunning upstate NY fall foliage
  • Waterfall Height: 167ft (51m)
  • Waterfall Crest: Varies – staircase cascade
  • Waterway: Chittenango Creek
  • Location: Madison County
  • Nearest Major City: Syracuse (about 40 miles)

The 167 ft Chittenango Falls is located with Chittenango Falls State Park located about 40 miles northeast of Syracuse in upstate New York.

Chittenango Falls State Park is an 193-acre state park which boasts 400 million year old bedrock, native endangered species and a beautiful wooden bridge.

We love Chittenango Falls because it offers visitors an extremely picturesque waterfall scene with cascading drops past the large boulders in the creek and the Onondaga Limestone.

Do You Need To Hike To See Chittenango Falls?

No, you only need to walk a short distance to see Chittenango Falls from the parking lot (about 10 minutes). You can also opt to walk down into the Gorge section of the trail to view the falls clower up.

There is no swimming or wading allowed below Chittenango Falls because this is an endangered species conservation area.

Chittenango Falls is home to the Ovate Amber Snail. This is the only location in the world where this species of snail has been found as a live specimen.

It’s extremely important you do not go anywhere near the base of Chittenango Falls because the snails live under the rocks. If you step on a rock, you will risk crushing this endangered species.

Hotels And Restaurants Near Syracuse

Since this waterfall is very close to Syracuse, we recommend you stay and eat near Syracuse if visiting Chittenango Falls as part of a larger finger lakes road trip.

Hotels Near Chittenango Falls:

Where To Eat Near Chittenango Falls:

On a finger lakes road trip? Don’t miss our guide featuring the best things to do in the NY finger lakes region.

2. Eternal Flame Falls (Chestnut Ridge State Park)

Eternal Flame Falls near Buffalo in the autumn season
Eternal Flame Falls running low in the autumn season
  • Waterfall Height: 30 ft (9m)
  • Waterfall Crest: Varies
  • Waterway: Shale Creek
  • Location: Erie County
  • Nearest Major City: Orchard park (4.5 miles)

Western NY truly delivers on waterfalls because Chestnut Ridge State Park is home to one of the most distinctive waterfalls in all of New York State in a stunning fusion of fire and water.

Chestnut Ridge Park sits on about 1,200 acres of gorgeous rolling hills in Erie County as its wedged between Eighteenmile Creek and the western branch of Cazenovia Creek.

Eternal Flame Falls features a small grotto to the right side of a 30 ft waterfall cascade. Inside this grotto, you will find a natural gas spring that creates a flame about 4 to 8 inches in height.

When the flow is heavy, the water pours over the small flame creating a magnificence specticle. As you approach Eternal Flame Falls, you will notice a rotten egg smell which is the natural gas found in the area.

Hiking Tip: Eternal Flame Falls is about a 1.0 mile out and back trail that should take about 40 minutes to complete.

What Causes Eternal Flame Falls?

The first time you see Eternal Flame Falls in person, you realize it looks exactly like the photos you see online which is not always the case.

This small yet mighty NY waterfall has a lot to show, but what causes the phenomenon of this small flame within a beautiful cascading waterfall?

The mystery of Eternal Flame Falls lies with the natural gasses that are produced and pushed out through the cracks of the surrounding bedrock.

But the small grotto is also key because this little shelter protects the gas seepage and flame from elements enabling the flame to remain lit for long periods of time.

There are a few other smaller fissures located nearby, but these smaller locations can not hold a flame as long or as large as the primary flame.

Hotels And Restaurants Near Eternal Flame Falls

We visited Eternal Flame falls on an early sunday morning right before a Buffalo Bills game at Highmark Stadium at Orchard Park.

You could also combine this waterfall with Niagara Falls which is only about 40 miles to the north. Here are some great hotel and restaurant recommendations.

Hotels Near Eternal Flame Falls:

Where To Eat Near Eternal Flame Falls:

Travel Tip: If this is your first time in Buffalo, we would recommend you try the Anchor Bar which is the home of the original buffalo style chicken wing (and one of Kristen’s favorite restaurants)!

3. High Falls Gorge (Wilmington, NY)

Wooden walkway along the High Falls Gorge
High Falls Gorge lined with beautiful fall foliage
  • Waterfall Height: ~30-35ft (9-11m)
  • Waterfall Crest: Varies
  • Waterway: Ausable River
  • Location: Essex County
  • Nearest Major City: Lake Placid (about 8 miles)

Different from the other waterfalls in New York, the High Falls Gorge is a 22-acre privately owned nature park featuring waterfalls and hiking trails.

We like High Falls Gorge because this 1.0 mile loop trail is relatively easy (with some stairs involved) and parking is usually stress free because there is an oversized lot with plenty of spaces.

The entrance fee in summer for High Falls Gorge is US$ 17.50 and it will take about 45 minutes to walk the waterfall trail. This entrance price will vary during other times of the year.

There are 4 notable waterfalls including Main Falls, Mini Falls, Rainbow Falls and Climax Falls that you will encounter as you walk the stunning trail at High Falls Gorge.

Interested in High Falls Gorge? You might like our complete guide to visiting High Falls Gorge near Lake Placid in upstate New York.

Hotels And Restaurants Near High Falls Gorge

If you are planning to stay near the High Falls Gorge, there are plenty of accommodation and restaurants options. You should consider staying in Lake Placid or Wilmington.

Hotels Near High Falls Gorge:

Where To Eat Near High Falls Gorge:

4. Kaaterskill Falls (Kaaterskill Wild Forest)

Two plunging waterfalls of Kaaterskill Falls in upstate NY
Two tiered Kaaterskill Falls
  • Waterfall Height: 231ft (70m) – 2 waterfalls
  • Waterfall Crest: Varies
  • Waterway: Spruce Creek
  • Location: Greene County
  • Nearest Major City: Woodstock (about 20 miles)

Kaaterskill Falls is a whopping 231 ft in total between both sections and it is considered to be one of the oldest tourist attractions in the Catskill Park (also known as the Catskill Forest Preserve).

We like Kaaterskill Falls because it features an upper ribbon like waterfall which drops 167 ft (51m) into a curved amphitheatre-like gorge before plummeting another 64 ft (20m) into a lower yet wider plunge waterfall.

At the base of Kaaterskill Falls, you will find various sized boulders along with additional smaller cascades as the creek continues down into the gorgeous valley.

If you visit this beautiful New York waterfall, be sure to take in the surrounding forest that created a natural frame around the mighty Kaaterskills Falls.

There are numerous parking lot and trail combinations you can take to reach the falls.

Hotels And Restaurants Near Kaaterskill Falls

If you are interested in staying near Kaaterskill Falls, you have several accommodation options ranging from quaint B&B’s to entire cabins for rent.

Depending on your needs, you may also want to consider staying in the town of Woodstock for more amenities.

Hotels Near Kaaterskill Falls:

Where To Eat Near Kaaterskill Falls:

5. Letchworth State Park

Often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East, Letchworth’s deep gorge is flanked by towering rock cliffs as high as 600 ft through which the Genesee River flows towards Rochester and eventually Lake Ontario.

Letchworth was voted the best US State Park in 2015 and it is easy to see why once you visit. This state park features 3 stunning waterfalls with each offering a unique perspective of the park so we couldn’t pick just one.

You can hike over 60 miles of trails throughout the 17 mile stretch of Genesee River inside Letchworth State Park. However, the stars of the show are the three stunning NY waterfalls including Lower, Middle and Upper Falls.

Heading to Letchworth? Don’t miss our detailed guide to Letchworth State Park including things to do and popular hiking trails.

Lower Falls At Letchworth

Fall foliage in Letchworth State Park with cascading water flowing
Letchworth State Park Lower Falls
  • Waterfall Height: 30 ft (9m)
  • Waterfall Crest: 70 ft (21m)
  • Waterway: Genesee River
  • Location: Wyoming County
  • Nearest Major City: Rochester, NY (55 miles)

Lower Falls at Letchworth State Park is the smallest, least visited but arguably most picturesque and quaint waterfall.

We like Lower Falls because you cross a beautifully ornate bridge that follows a path hugging a cliffside until you reach the observation area.

In the autumn season, the gorge around Lower Falls radiants vibrant colors and it’s absolutely stunning from every angle you look.

Travel Tip: Park anywhere between Inspiration Point and Lower Falls Trailhead. But you will have to descend (and then ascend) 127 uneven or irregular steps in order to see Lower Falls.

Middle Falls At Letchworth

Water falling over rock at Letchworth State Park
Middle Falls at Letchworth State Park
  • Waterfall Height: 107 ft (33m)
  • Waterfall Crest: 250-300 ft (76-91m)
  • Waterway: Genesee River
  • Location: Wyoming County
  • Nearest Major City: Rochester, NY (55 miles)

The tallest, widest and most powerful of the three Letchworth waterfalls is Middle Falls. There are several viewpoints so you can choose the perspective you like most.

Our personal favorite viewpoint is from Inspiration Point because this vista is far enough back to open up the landscape and include the Genesee River as well as Upper Falls complimented by its 200 ft high bridge.

Inspiration Point is also the best place to watch sunset at Letchworth and the ideal place for astrophotographers to set up at night.

When you’re ready to get up close and personal, you can stand a stone’s throw away from the drop and walk into a rounded observation platform directly in front of the waterfall.

The chances of being soaked by water vapor are high to certain at this New York State waterfall!

Travel Tip: You can hike along the Gorge trail to Inspiration point but you can also park just 50 meters away, take a deck chair and watch the sunset just to the right of Middle Falls.

Upper Falls At Letchworth

Stunning fall colors around letchworth state park with train crossing steel arches railroad bridge
Upper Falls with the fall foliage and train crossing the railroad bridge
  • Waterfall Height: 70-80 ft
  • Waterfall Crest: ~200 ft (horseshoe)
  • Waterway: Genesee River
  • Location: Wyoming County
  • Nearest Major City: Rochester, NY (55 miles)

Rounding off the Letchworth waterfall trifecta is narrow horseshoe shaped Upper Falls. Due to its shape, Upper Falls typically creates a billowing cloud of water vapor that slightly obscures the left portion of the falls as you look at it.

This creates a slightly eerie and cold element, particularly on overcast rainy days. But the outstanding feature of Upper Falls isn’t naturally created by erosion, it is a steel arched railroad bridge built by man.

The bridge forms the perfect frame behind the waterfall and if you time it just right, you might see a freight train crossing.

Be sure to walk around the Upper Falls area, including standing directly in front and walking up the nearby stone stairs to its side for the best views.

Travel Tip: Park either at Middle or Upper Falls parking lot or a smaller parking area very close to the top of the railroad bridge. If you park at the bridge, you will have to descend gradual steps to reach the front view of Upper Falls.

Hotels And Restaurants Near Letchworth State Park

Letchworth is surrounded by the smaller towns of Dansville, Geneseo and Mount Morris. You can eat and stay in any of these nearby towns, but it may require a short drive.

Hotels Near Letchworth State Park:

Where To Eat Near Letchworth State Park:

Love visiting NY State Parks? If you are heading to Letchworth, you should also consider visiting Stony Brook State Park which is only about 20 miles away.

6. Niagara Falls (Niagara Falls State Park)

Aerial view of Niagara Falls the biggest waterfall in New York
Aerial view of Niagara Falls from the Canadian side

Niagara Falls is New York’s major showstopping waterfall, but did you know Niagara Falls is actually made up of 3 individual waterfalls?

All 3 of these waterfalls are sourced from the Niagara River which flows between Lake Ontario in Canada and Lake Erie in Buffalo, New York.

The US and Canadian border also runs straight through the Niagara River including Niagara Falls. So without further ado, here are the waterfalls that make up all of Niagara Falls:

American Falls

Large amounts of water tumbling over rocks in Niagara, NY
Side profile of American Falls
  • Waterfall Height: 183 ft (56m)
  • Waterfall Crest: 830 ft (253m)
  • Waterway: Niagara River
  • Location: Niagara County
  • Nearest Major City: Niagara Falls, NY (2.0 miles)

The American Falls (sometimes known as Rainbow Falls) is the larger of the two waterfalls located on the American side of Niagara Falls. You can find the American Falls between Prospect Point and Luna Island.

American Falls is impressive because it is 830 ft (253m) if measured straight across the brink. But it becomes 949 feet (29m) if measured along the zig-zag brink.

This waterfall has a flow rate of 140,000 gal/sec and only makes up about 10% of the total flow of Niagara Falls when combined with Bridal Veil Falls (the next waterfall on this list).

Bridal Veil Falls

A section of Niagara Falls featuring American and Bridal Veil falls
American and Bridal Veil Falls
  • Waterfall Height: 181 ft (55m)
  • Waterfall Crest: 56 ft (17m)
  • Waterway: Niagara River
  • Location: Niagara County
  • Nearest Major City: Niagara Falls, NY (2.0 miles)

Bridal Veil Falls is the smaller of the two falls on the American side of Niagara Falls. This waterfall is also sometimes known as Luna Falls or Iris Falls.

If you plan to walk through the Cave of the Winds at Niagara Falls, you will get up close and personal with this New York State waterfall.

Horseshoe Falls

Extremely large horseshoe falls on both the American and Canadian side of Niagara Falls
The biggest waterfall in New York, Horseshoe Falls
  • Waterfall Height: 173 ft (53m)
  • Waterfall Crest: 2,200 ft (670m)
  • Waterway: Niagara River
  • Location: Niagara County
  • Nearest Major City: Niagara Falls, NY (2.0 miles)

Horseshoe Falls is the largest waterfall out of the 3 falls making up the massive Niagara Falls in upstate NY. This waterfall stretches from the US border all the way to the Canadian border.

If those facts don’t dazzle you, Horseshoes Falls pushes through about 600,000 gal/sec or 90% of the water flow of Niagara Falls. However, most of this waterfall is located along the Canadian side.

Hotels And Restaurants Near Niagara Falls

The American side of Niagara Falls is best if you want to be close with these famous NY falls. But if you want a great vantage point, the best way to see Niagara Falls is from the Canadian side.

Below we have listed hotel and restaurant recommendations located on the American side of Niagara Falls.

Hotels Near Niagara Falls:

Where To Eat Near Niagara Falls:

Want more beautiful waterfalls in New York? Don’t miss our popular guide to the best NY finger lake waterfalls.

7. Rainbow Falls (Ausable Chasm)

Framed photo of metal bridge with Ausable Chasm
Rainbow Falls framed with a bridge at Ausable Chasm
  • Waterfall Height: 91ft (28m)
  • Waterfall Crest: Varies
  • Waterway: Ausable River
  • Location: Essex County
  • Nearest Major City: Plattsburg (about 15 miles)

Similar to the High Falls Gorge, Rainbow Falls is a private attraction located at the head of the Ausable Chasm of upstate New York in an area known as the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks.

You can get a wonderful view of Rainbow Falls from the bridge located along Route 9 just outside the hamlet of Keeseville. But if you want to explore more of this area, you will have to pay a fee.

We like Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm because this is one of the oldest natural attractions in the United States (est. 1870) and you can visit 7 waterfalls as well as explore caves.

Popular points of interest include Rainbow Falls, Elephant’s Head, Column Rock, Hyde’s Cave and the Mystic Gorge. Guided tours are also available.

Hotels And Restaurants Near Ausable Chasm

Your best options for accommodation options near Ausable Chasm are most likely in Plattsburg or Wilmington. Restaurants can be found scattered throughout the area.

If you want to hike Mount Marcy or go to lake Placid, you might want to head towards Wilmington. Read our guides about day hiking Mount Marcy or the best things to do in Lake Placid next.

Hotels Near Ausable Chasm:

Where To Eat Near Ausable Chasm:

Want more waterfall inspiration? Don’t miss our guide to the best waterfall quotes.

8. Rainbow Falls (Watkins Glen State Park)

Watkins Glen gorge trail with cascading pools in the fall
Rainbow Falls along the Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park
  • Waterfall Height: 101 ft (31m)
  • Waterfall Crest: 20 ft (6m)
  • Waterway: Glen Creek
  • Location: Schuyler County
  • Nearest Major City: Rochester, NY (81 miles)

Watkins Glen is one of the most spectacular gorges we’ve ever seen and we genuinely felt as though we’d been transported into another world.

Although Watkins Glen State Park gorge boasts 19 waterfalls, none compare to the spellbinding scene at Rainbow Falls.

We’re talking front cover of nature magazines imagery here and this is one tough act to beat in the best New York waterfall race.

Rainbow Falls features a wafer thin but wide sheet of water plunging from the ledge while meeting a triple cascade in smooth plunge pools below.

What Is So Special About Rainbow Falls At Watkins Glen?

We love Rainbow Falls because you can walk underneath as you hike the very popular Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park. Prepare to be awe-struck but also expect large crowds.

Rainbow Falls is roughly 1 mile into Gorge trail from the main entrance. The total Gorge and Rim Trail loop is around 3 miles with about 800 steps.

Heading to Watkins Glen State Park? Don’t miss our guide to hiking the Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen or our popular guide featuring the best things to do in the village of Watkins Glen.

Hotels And Restaurants Near Watkins Glen

The main entrance to Watkins Glen State Park is located within the village of Watkins Glen (yes, it can be confusing). But this means you are spoiled for choice when it comes to hotels and restaurants.

Hotels Near Watkins Glen:

Where To Eat Near Watkins Glen:

9. Salmon River Falls (Orwell, NY)

Salmon River Falls one of the best waterfalls in New York State
The gorgeous three tiered Salmon River Falls
  • Waterfall Height: 110ft (34m)
  • Waterfall Crest: Varies (usually 3 parallel sections)
  • Waterway: Salmon River
  • Location: Oswego County
  • Nearest Major City: Syracuse (about 45 miles)

Salmon River Falls is a gorgeous waterfall located in the Salmon River Unique Area about 50 minutes from Syracuse. You can hike the gorge trail, river bed trail or the upper falls trail to experience this NY waterfall.

We like Salmon River Falls because this plunge waterfall is usually divided into three individual sections with spectacular cascades towards the base.

If water is running well in the spring or when the river is high, Salmon River Falls will transform into one single raging waterfall instead of the three tame streams you see in the photo above.

Salmon River Falls is a bit different compared to the other New York waterfalls on this list because the water flow is controlled by a hydroelectric dam about a mile upstream from the falls.

Hotels And Restaurants Near Salmon River Falls

Use the same hotel and restaurant recommendations from the #1 spot on our NY Waterfalls list, Chittenango Falls.

Travel Tip: Salmon River Falls and Chittenango Falls are about a 1 hour drive (60 miles) apart so you could easily visit both of these top NY waterfalls in one day.

10. Taughannock Falls (Taughannock Falls State Park)

Taughannock Falls State Park overlook view of Taughannock Waterfall in the distance beyond stone staircase New York waterfall tallest single drop east of Rockies
A light flowing Taughannock Falls during a summer drought
  • Waterfall Height: 215 ft (66m)
  • Waterfall Crest: 30-40 ft (9-12m)
  • Waterway: Taughannock Creek
  • Location: Tompkins County
  • Nearest Major City: Ithaca, NY (9 miles)

Taughannock Falls is one of the most visually impressive waterfalls in New York, if not the entire United States, although we know it doesn’t look that way in our photo because we visited after a drought.

The spectacular single drop plunge waterfall plummets 215 ft into a deep bowl-like depression in the Earth and can be viewed from right at the drop zone or from an incredible viewpoint hundreds of feet away.

You can walk along a flat gorge trail (or even the dry creek bed itself when dry) to reach the base of Taughannock Falls, which in spring and early summer will be crashing over the ledge 215 ft above.

Taughannock Falls overlook is one of our favorite views in New York. The hike to the base of this NY waterfall is 1.5 miles round trip and the trail is flat plus very easy making it well worth it.

Hotels And Restaurants Near Taughannock Falls

Trumansburg is just a 4 mile drive from Taughannock Falls State Park and features a number of highly rated restaurants:

Hotels Near Taughannock Falls:

The stunning Inn at Taughannock Falls is an extremely popular choice for accommodation when visiting Taughannock Falls.

It is perfectly located right at the entrance to the Taughannock Falls Gorge trail and is set in gorgeous grounds overlooking the lake.

>> Book the Inn at Taughannock here <<

However, it can be difficult finding availability and the perfect alternative is a historic bed and breakfast we stayed at called Glass Magnolia in Interlaken, just a few miles from Taughannock Falls.

The hosts are extremely welcoming and friendly, plus the homemade breakfast was excellent.

>> Book the Glass Magnolia here <<

Where To Eat Near Taughannock Falls:

Heading to Ithaca? Don’t miss our popular guides to more NY State Parks in the area including:

>> Guide to visiting Taughannock Falls State Park
>> How to make the most of Buttermilk Falls State Park
>> Finding Lucifer Falls at Robert H. Treman State Park

We have included additional hotel and restaurant recommendations in these guides so if you plan to visit the finger lakes region as part of a larger trip, you will have everything you need.

Man taking a photo of a NY waterfall with a tripod
Mark taking a photo of Rainbow Falls wearing the HEX photography backpack

New York Waterfalls Photography Tips

While smartphones today can easily cut it for social media platforms, in order to take home some truly memorable images (and be able to edit them well) you need a mirrorless or DSLR camera.

Waterfalls are one of our favorite types of photography because you can really change how an image looks using a camera. Running water is the same as falling water so these tips remain true for both.

  • Use a mirrorless or DSLR camera and lens with focal length to suit the scene. Personally, we love Sony mirrorless cameras, but every photographer will have their preference.
  • When shooting close up views like Rainbow Falls or underneath Taughannock Falls, use a wide angle (12-35mm). While Middle Falls from Inspiration Point at Letchworth would be better at 50-80mm.
  • Shoot 0.3 second to 3 second exposures using shutter speed priority mode with ISO as low as possible (100). Start at 1 second and then at faster or slower shutter speed until you’re happy with how the water looks.
  • You will need a tripod for stability as well as to capture the silky waterfall effect. A tripod will let you shoot long exposures with a clear image. If you don’t use a tripod, your long exposures will be blurry.
  • Alternatively, use a fast shutter speed like 1/1000th to freeze water droplets as they fall. You can then hand-hold without tripod or blur.
  • If you’re just starting out, shoot in RAW & JPEG. You can use your jpeg now but once you have more experience you will be grateful for the RAW file you can go back to and edit in post.
  • Visit early in the day before intense daylight but if it is bright, use an ND filter to stop down the light or CPL filter to dim any glare.
  • Check for spray on your lens regularly and clean it off with microfiber cleaning cloths if necessary.

Interested in photography? You might like to read our gift guide for photographers or guide featuring stunning photos of America.

New York Waterfalls Interactive Map

Click into the interactive map to zoom in or out and move around the area to find the 10 best NY waterfalls as well as nearby recommendations.

Each of the 10 waterfalls are listed in bright red along with restaurant recommendations (maroon) and hotel recommendations (blue).

You can also access our NY waterfalls map via this link here.

Close up view of the small flame burning inside a small grotto
Small fire flickering at Eternal Flame Falls

New York Waterfall FAQ’s

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most frequently asked questions about waterfalls in New York State.

Where Are The Best Waterfalls In New York State?

The best waterfalls in New York State include Niagara Falls which is the biggest and Taughannock Falls which is the tallest. However, there are many other hidden gems when it comes to NY waterfalls scattered throughout the entire state.

How Many Waterfalls Are In New York?

There are over 2,000 waterfalls in New York and many of these waterfalls are found within localized regions of the state. You can visit many NY waterfalls during the same trip if you plan well.

Can You See Any New York Waterfalls Without Hiking?

Yes, you can see many waterfalls in NY State without hiking including Chittenango Falls, Niagara Falls, Taughannock Falls as well as waterfalls at Ausable Chasm or Letchworth State Park.

Want more New York content? Head over to our New York Travel Guides to explore the Finger Lakes, Adirondacks and the best of NYC.


We hope this guide featuring the best waterfalls in New York State inspires you to see these falls yourself!

Please let us know if you have questions about any of these waterfalls in New York or planning a trip to New York State in the comment below.

Happy Waterfall Hunting,

Mark and Kristen

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Graham Bedford

Wednesday 14th of October 2020

I've really enjoyed your recent posts on water falls in New york state, I never realised how picture esque it was.

Mark & Kristen Morgan

Friday 16th of October 2020

Thanks Graham! To be honest, neither did we. It's amazing how much is on your doorstep and at least one good thing has come out of lockdown, we were able to spend time road tripping the Finger Lakes to all these awesome gorges and waterfalls. There will be many more falls added to this list over the next few months!