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The Waterfalls of New York State


New York State is home to a diverse array of waterfalls, ranging from the world-renowned Niagara Falls to hidden gems nestled within scenic state parks. These waterfalls not only provide stunning natural beauty but also offer recreational opportunities and ecological benefits. This article explores some of the most notable waterfalls in New York State, highlighting their unique characteristics and the experiences they offer.

Niagara Falls

Location: Border of New York, USA, and Ontario, Canada

Niagara Falls is arguably the most famous waterfall in New York State and one of the most iconic in the world. Comprising three distinct falls—Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls—Niagara Falls boasts an impressive flow rate and immense power.

  • Horseshoe Falls: The largest of the three, Horseshoe Falls spans 2,600 feet and drops 167 feet.
  • American Falls: Located entirely within the U.S., it is 940 feet wide and 100 feet high.
  • Bridal Veil Falls: The smallest, it is 56 feet wide and 78 feet high.

Attractions and Activities:

  • Maid of the Mist: Boat tours offering close-up views.
  • Cave of the Winds: Walkways that take visitors to the base of Bridal Veil Falls.
  • Observation Tower: Provides panoramic views of all three falls.

Letchworth State Park

Location: Western New York

Often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park is home to a series of stunning waterfalls along the Genesee River.

  • Middle Falls: The largest and most dramatic, it drops 107 feet.
  • Upper Falls: A picturesque waterfall near a historic railroad bridge, it drops 70 feet.
  • Lower Falls: Although less tall, the Lower Falls is still impressive with a 70-foot drop and a deep gorge.

Attractions and Activities:

  • Scenic Trails: Over 66 miles of hiking trails.
  • Hot Air Balloon Rides: Offering aerial views of the falls and gorge.
  • Whitewater Rafting: For a thrilling adventure on the Genesee River.

Watkins Glen State Park

Location: Finger Lakes region

Watkins Glen State Park is famous for its stunning gorge and the 19 waterfalls that can be seen along its trails.

  • Rainbow Falls: One of the most photographed spots, where water cascades over a stone bridge.
  • Cavern Cascade: A unique waterfall that visitors can walk behind.
  • Central Cascade: The park’s highest waterfall, with a drop of 60 feet.

Attractions and Activities:

  • Gorge Trail: A scenic hike that takes visitors past all 19 waterfalls.
  • Camping: Various sites available within the park.
  • Picnicking: Numerous picnic areas with beautiful views.

Taughannock Falls State Park

Location: Near Ithaca, New York

Taughannock Falls is known for its impressive height and the sheer cliffs that surround it.

  • Taughannock Falls: At 215 feet, it is the tallest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.

Attractions and Activities:

  • Gorge Trail: A 0.75-mile trail leading to the base of the falls.
  • Overlook: Provides a breathtaking view from above the falls.
  • Cayuga Lake: Offers opportunities for boating and swimming nearby.

Buttermilk Falls State Park

Location: Ithaca, New York

Buttermilk Falls is named for the frothy cascade that resembles buttermilk as it flows down the hillside.

  • Buttermilk Falls: The main cascade drops about 165 feet through a gorge.
  • Lower Falls: Smaller but equally picturesque, located downstream of the main falls.

Attractions and Activities:

  • Gorge and Rim Trails: Hikes that provide views of multiple waterfalls.
  • Swimming Area: A natural pool at the base of Buttermilk Falls.
  • Camping and Picnicking: Facilities available within the park.


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