Mother Nature is a pro at creating spell-binding works of natural wonders for the express enjoyment of her children. Humbling wonders of such magnitude and beauty that just by standing in their presence we are reminded how minuscule we really are. Of her magnificent creations, there are perhaps none more worthy of wearing the crown than waterfalls. They serve as powerful testimonies to the beauty surrounding us if we only bother to look.
Nobody has a count of how many waterfalls exist. Some say 9 million. Some say 12,000. It’s anybody’s guess since there are still unexplored areas of the planet which are largely uninhabited or are still home to indignant people with no outside contact.
Some of them are easy to get to. Others, not so much. Some a person can drive their RV up to while others will require several modes of transportation during the same trip, a portion of which will undoubtedly require wearing out some shoe leather.
Whether you are a rugged adventurer or a 75-year-old retiree just enjoying life, there’s a waterfall somewhere for you. Here are some of the better ones.
Niagra Falls – Niagra Falls, Ontario, Canada/Niagra Falls, NY/USA
With the largest flow rate of any North American waterfall with drops of over 165 feet, Niagra Falls is actually three waterfalls. Located on the USA/Canadian border, the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls meet as one as they topple over six-million cubic feet of water over the crest every minute. During the summer months, this flow can increase to as high as 100,000 cubic feet per second.
Iguassu Falls – Puerto Iguazu, Argentina/Foz Do Iguacu, Brazil
The Falls consists of 275 individual waterfalls and cascades spanning an incredible distance of 1.5 miles and spilling water at an average rate of 36,000 cubic feet per second. Nestled deep within a rainforest, catwalks run throughout for access to breathtaking views. The Falls separate Argentina and Brazil.
Victoria Falls – Livingstone, Zambia/Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls is the largest single waterfall in the entire world. Dropping 36,000 cubic feet per second, it spans a distance of almost two miles and is one of the seven wonders of the world. In the language of the Kololo tribe who lived in the area in the 1800’s, it was called Mosi-Ou-Tunya, or “the smoke that thunders”. Mist from the water can be seen as far as two miles away and the Falls thundering sound can be heard from great distances.
Ventisquero Falls – Aysen del General Carlos Ibanez del Campo, Chile
Water flowing from a 50,000-year-old glacier is what makes Ventisquero Falls so unique. Water plunges over the cliffs yearlong but during the late Spring and early Summer, avalanches occur due to snow and ice so half of the Falls is closed off due to safety concerns. Though never measured, it is estimated that the drop is between 1800 and 2000 feet. Rated as one of the top five waterfalls in South America, because of its remote location, about 10 miles south of Puyuguapi, it is seldom visited.
Sutherland Falls – Milford Sound, New Zealand
Resembling something from a Bob Ross painting, Sutherland Falls is the second tallest waterfall in the world at 1,904 feet, and it does not get any more picturesque. The falls are so massive they seem to engulf its spectators. It’s about a 90-minute walk to the falls from the public shelter but this doesn’t stop visitors from showing up in droves. The source of the Falls is a huge mountain lake.
Palouse Falls – Franklin/Whitman Counties, Washington State, USA
Located in Palouse Falls State Park, this waterfall is seventeen feet higher than Niagra Falls. Palouse Falls came into the spotlight when thrill seeker and pro-kayaker Tyler Bradt set a world record by “jumping” the Falls and oddly surviving the 198-foot drop. It’s been said sunset is the best time to view the falls as the sky above changes hues. Dirt pathways lined with colorful wildflowers lead to the Falls. As picturesque as the entire scene is, visitors are also cautioned to remain aware of the extremely large bear population in the area.
Angel Falls – Auyantepui, Venezuela
Ranked as the tallest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls drops a mind-boggling distance of 3,212 feet and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Falls got its name when US pilot Jimmy Angel crash-landed on top of it. He had to hike for 11 days to find civilization. Though Angel Falls is a top tourist attraction in Venezuela, getting to it is a bit of a challenge as the Falls lie deep within an isolated jungle. It requires one flight on a small plane followed by a riverboat trip when the water is deep enough. In the summer months, the river becomes more shallow and is often difficult to impossible to navigate.
Taughannock Falls – Tompkins County, New York
Located in NY State Park, Taughannock Falls is only accessible by hiking a trail. Its claim to fame is in being the largest single drop waterfall east of the Rockies. The Falls drop for 250 feet over rocky cliffs towering 400 feet in the air. It may be a little tough to get to but it’s well worth the hike.
Kaieteur Falls – Mazaruni-Potaro, Guyana
Rated as one of the most powerful waterfalls on earth, Kaieteur Falls drops a total of 741-feet and spills an astronomical 23,000 cubic feet per second. It is so isolated and rugged that when explorers wandered deep within the rainforest to research it, several species not found anywhere else on earth were found living in the spray zone where the plunging water meets the river below. Though Kaieteur Falls flows continuously throughout the entire year, there is one strange question which has never been answered. The source of the water is as of yet unknown.
Not all waterfalls are a spectacular as the ones you just read about, but nonetheless, even the smallest of trickles running down a rock cliff is beauty beyond comparison. Do some research and see if you can find one near you. There’s a good chance you will.