When people think of waterfalls in Oregon, they will likely think of the Columbia River Gorge. It’s home to more than 90 waterfalls that fall hundreds of feet of majestic water spray. This gorge should definitely be on your bucket list, but we’ve found that it isn’t the only place to find spectacular waterfalls in Oregon.
If you’re ready to go chasing waterfalls, we have you covered! Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a casual traveler, these seven Oregon waterfalls outside of the Gorge are a must-see. Let’s dive in!
- What Is the Biggest Oregon Waterfall?
- What Are the Closest Waterfalls to Portland, Oregon?
- 8 Best Waterfalls in Oregon (Outside the Columbia River Gorge)
- 1. Sweet Creek Falls, Siuslaw National Forest
- 2. Toketee Falls, Umpqua National Forest
- 3. Tumalo Falls, Deschutes National Forest
- 4. Marion Falls, Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area
- 5. Tamolitch Falls, Willamette National Forest
- 6. Tamanawas Falls, Hood National Forest
- 7. White River Falls, White River Falls State Park
- 8. Salt Creek Falls
- When Is the Best Month to Visit Waterfalls in Oregon?
What Is the Biggest Oregon Waterfall?
Multnomah Falls is the biggest Oregon waterfall. This breathtaking waterfall is in the Columbia River Gorge, not far from Portland. It drops 620 feet in two sections, with the upper tier at around 542 feet and the lower tier at 78 feet.
This iconic waterfall isn’t only the tallest in Oregon. Multnomah Falls is one of the tallest year-round waterfalls in the entire country! You can easily reach it from the Historic Columbia River Highway, making it a must-see spot for tourists and nature enthusiasts exploring the Columbia River Gorge region.
We recommend visiting on a weekday and avoiding the holidays, as Multnomah Falls is the most-visited waterfall in Oregon with an estimated 2 million visitors per year. We can attest that this place can get very busy. Fortunately, there is an ice cream and coffee shop on site to grab a snack and a beverage while you wait for the busloads of tourists to finish their picture turns.
What Are the Closest Waterfalls to Portland, Oregon?
The Columbia River Gorge is just 30 minutes east of Portland, making waterfall viewing very popular for tourists to this popular city.
The closest waterfall to Portland, Oregon is Latourell Falls. Latourell Falls is a beautiful 220-foot waterfall that rushes over basalt columns. Due to its proximity, it was the first waterfall we stopped at during our Columbia River Gorge tour. Upon arriving at the parking lot, visitors can view the impressive waterfall. Additionally, visitors can follow the easy, 2.4-mile dirt path trail for a better view of the Upper Latourell Falls.
Bridal Veil Falls is another Oregon waterfall close to Portland. This two-tiered 120-foot waterfall is an impressive site. There are two trails to take visitors to both tiers of the falls. First, the lower trail will take you past Bridal Veil Creek to the base of Bridal Veil Falls. We know from experience that the large rock at the base is great for jumping into the waterfall’s pool. The Overlook Trail has stunning views over the Columbia River Gorge. This trail is a half-mile and paved for easy hiking.
Pro Tip: Camp close to Oregon’s best waterfalls at one of these 7 Best RV Parks for Exploring Klamath Falls, Oregon.
8 Best Waterfalls in Oregon (Outside the Columbia River Gorge)
With so many impressive waterfalls, deciding where to explore first can be a challenge. We found seven Oregon waterfalls in national forests, state parks, and wilderness areas that are perfect for your next Oregon adventure. All these lands have camping, so you can leisurely explore Oregon’s best waterfalls during your stay.
1. Sweet Creek Falls, Siuslaw National Forest
Sweet Creek Falls is a hidden gem in the Siuslaw National Forest. This cascade is characterized by its gentle, multi-tiered descent through a vibrant, moss-draped canyon. To reach Sweet Creek Falls, follow the 2.5-mile Sweet Creek Trail, which is a relatively easy and scenic hike. What sets this waterfall apart is its accessibility. Along the trail, you can find 11 smaller, but impressive, waterfalls. It’s a great spot for a family outing or a serene nature walk.
2. Toketee Falls, Umpqua National Forest
Toketee Falls is one of Oregon’s most famous waterfalls. Visitors know it for the intricate basalt formations that surround it and it’s a favorite site for photographers and nature enthusiasts. It features a double-tiered 89-foot drop into a dramatic basalt chasm.
You can find Toketee Falls in the Umpqua National Forest. To reach the waterfall, you’ll embark on a short but invigorating hike through a forested area. The trailhead is half a mile north of Highway 138 near Toketee Lake.
3. Tumalo Falls, Deschutes National Forest
Tumalo Falls in the Deschutes National Forest is a stunning 97-foot plunge waterfall. It is a short 12-mile drive from Bend, Oregon, and is easily accessible via a paved road. The upper view of Tumalo Falls is a half-mile walk. However, hikers can also view the waterfall by hitting the 6.8-mile moderate Tumalo Falls Loop. The main entrance to Tumalo Falls is open from mid-May through October. If you are traveling in the winter, you can access the falls by hiking the 2.4-mile out-and-back trail to view the impressive snowy site.
4. Marion Falls, Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area
The Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area is home to two waterfalls; Marion Falls and Gatch Falls. Marion Falls is in the Central Oregon Cascade region surrounded by old-growth forests and wildflowers. Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area is home to many hiking trails, including 40 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. The hike to Marion Falls is a moderate, five-mile out-and-back trail that gains around 1,000 feet in elevation.
5. Tamolitch Falls, Willamette National Forest
Tamolitch Falls in the Willamette National Forest is a unique Oregon waterfall. Visitors call it the “Blue Pool” because the water appears an otherworldly shade of blue. We mountain biked to this waterfall in the early summer and swam in the very frigid waters of the Blue Pool. Later in the summer, the falls typically stop flowing, leaving the pool a calm and ethereal place.
The hike to Tamolitch Falls is relatively short but memorable. What sets it apart is the stunning, crystal-clear pool formed by the waterfall, making it a picturesque destination.
While in the Willamette National Forest, we recommend also checking out Salt Creek Falls and Proxy Falls. Salt Creek Falls is a grand spectacle, plunging 286 feet, and is easily accessible by car. However, Proxy Falls is a more delicate twin cascade and requires a moderate hike. These waterfalls showcase the diversity of the Willamette National Forest.
6. Tamanawas Falls, Hood National Forest
Tamanawas Falls is in the Mt. Hood National Forest. This 100-foot waterfall drops dramatically over a lava cliff. It is easy to access, making it a great stop for people hiking with families. The 1.7-mile hike follows Cold Spring Creek and requires explorers to cross over footbridges.
You can visit Tamanawas Falls year-round. However, if you visit in the winter, the waterfall may freeze. Please check the weather conditions before hitting the trails. Due to the snow, you may need snowshoes to access the waterfall.
7. White River Falls, White River Falls State Park
White River Falls State Park boasts the stunning White River Falls, which cascades over a rugged basalt ledge. The White River Falls, or Tygh Valley Falls, is east of Tygh Valley. A viewing platform for the falls is a short walk from the parking area. However, adventure seekers can brave the steep and rugged .7-mile trail into the canyon to the base of the waterfall.
Downstream of White River Falls is a historical hydroelectric power plant. This power plant harnessed the churning of the waterfall and converted it into electricity. While the plant is no longer in use and you cannot access the building due to safety concerns, you can still look through the windows and see the rusted machinery they used.
8. Salt Creek Falls
If you don’t want to waste time waiting for a parking spot to open up at the famous Multnomah Falls, head to Salt Creek Falls instead. This waterfall is the second highest single drop waterfall and crashes down at an impressive 286 feet. It is so massive that it has an average yearly flow of 50,000 gallons per minute flowing over the rocks.
To view Salt Creek Falls, you can use the observation platform that is located at the top of the waterfall. The viewing platform is wheelchair accessible. If you want to view Salt Creek Falls from different angles, there is a gravel trail that loops around the falls. Along the trail you can view the waterfall from multiple vantage points.
Pro Tip: Enjoy coastal views at one of these 9 Best Oregon Coast RV Parks and Campgrounds You’ll Love.
When Is the Best Month to Visit Waterfalls in Oregon?
The best months to visit waterfalls in Oregon are late October through the end of May or beginning of June. This is because snowfall at the higher mountain elevations feeds the rivers that turn into waterfalls.
However, the best time to visit Oregon’s waterfalls really depends on your preferences. Spring, with its snowmelt and increased water flow, offers impressive, roaring cascades. Summer provides pleasant weather for hiking and exploring, while fall paints the surrounding foliage with vibrant colors. Winter, especially in the higher elevations, transforms waterfalls into icy spectacles.
So, there’s no wrong time to visit; it’s all about the experience you seek. However, check trail conditions and accessibility, as they can vary with the seasons.
Which Oregon waterfall do you want to visit first? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
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