Oregon is home to many, many beautiful waterfalls—so many that you will probably see other waterfalls along the way just to get to the waterfalls on this list. Most of the state’s waterfalls are located in the Columbia River Gorge or in and around the Cascades. The Columbia River Gorge has so many incredible waterfalls along the Historic Columbia River Highway just outside of Portland that you can easily create a self-guided waterfall tour. It’s a great way to spend a day.
Multnomah Falls is located within a half-hour drive of Portland, making it one of the most accessible and most visited falls in the state. Once you pull off of I-84 into the parking lot, it’s a five-minute paved walk to the 611-foot-high fall—that’s taller than Niagara Falls! The falls are broken into two drops and are one of the most beautiful sets of falls you’ll see anywhere. You can go to the central viewing platform or walk the trails to get to other viewpoints. A few other falls are within hiking distance as well.
Wahkeena Falls is just a few minutes west of Multnomah Falls on the Historic Columbia River Highway. You can get there via the Return Trail from Multnomah Falls, or take I-84 exit 28 toward Bridal Veil. The falls are 242 feet high and have a few tiers on their way down. There are several trails around the area, and there’s an easy-to-reach viewing platform.
Horsetail Falls are also close to Multnomah Falls, just to the east on the Historic Columbia River Highway. Just like Multnomah, these falls are a straight, single drop right next to the parking area (but not quite as high, at only 176 feet), making them a great stop if you don’t want to hike. However, if you do want to hike, there is a trailhead here that will take you up a short and steep trail, and there are picnic tables near the base.
Bridal Veil Falls
Yet another option near Portland and also near Multnomah Falls is Bridal Veil Falls, also located off of I-84 exit 28 (so go to this exit for maximum waterfall goodness). Bridal Veil has two tiers and is surrounded by the quintessentially beautiful Gorge scenery. The viewpoint at the end of the 10-15 minute hike gets you pretty close to the falls. The trail has a few steep spots but is approachable for most hikers.
Latourell Falls is the closest waterfall on the Historic Columbia River Highway to Portland. With a single drop measuring 224 feet, it’s a sight to see as the water tumbles over a chunk of rock covered with lichen and moss. If you need more natural beauty in your life, you can hike the loop trail up to two-tiered Upper Latourell Falls.
Located close to Crater Lake National Park, Watson Falls is tucked into the Umpqua National Forest and is the highest waterfall in southwest Oregon at 300 feet. There’s a half-mile hike from the parking area to reach the falls—there are a few slippery spots but isn’t too tough for most hikers. Don’t miss the wooden bridge where you can stand right up close to the falls, but be warned— these falls are strong and powerful, so expect to get spritzed! Toketee Falls are nearby if you want to see two amazing falls in one day. There is a day-use fee to park.
Also located in Umpqua National Forest, Toketee Falls tops out at 113 feet, broken into two drops—the first at 28 feet, and then second at 85 feet. The falls are about a half-mile from the parking area and involve a sometimes slippery, but mostly straightforward, hike. The scenery is beautiful and a bit wild. Unlike Watson Falls, the viewpoint will not have you right up next to the waterfall, so this one is a nice counterpoint if you want to see a beautiful waterfall, but don’t want to get wet in the process. There is a day-use fee to park.
If you’ve ever wanted to cross behind a waterfall, well, here’s your chance. South Falls is one of many waterfalls in Silver Creek State Park and one of the state’s most well-known waterfalls. To simply view the falls, there’s a viewpoint a quarter-mile from the parking area. To get to the falls, you can either take the spectacular 7.9-mile Trail of Ten Falls or the shorter 1.1-mile loop directly to South Falls. If you want to venture behind the falls, there’s a trail that scoops behind its impressive falls that drop 177 feet down from a rocky shelf—bring a raincoat if you take this trail as you’re likely to get some spray. There is a day-use fee to park.
White River Falls
For scenery that’s a bit different than all the lush green surrounding waterfalls in the western half of the state, look to White River Falls in White River Falls State Park in Wasco. The falls are located in a rocky canyon, and the hike is a bit rugged, but the combination of the powerful 90-foot waterfall with the jagged rocks surrounding it is worth it. As a bonus, the remains of an old hydroelectric power plant are nearby as well, if you enjoy relics of the past. There is a day-use fee to park.
Salt Creek Falls
At 286 feet, Salt Creek Falls in Willamette National Forest are some of the highest falls in the state and also one of the most powerful waterfalls in the state, too. You can admire these falls from a viewing area that’s very close to the parking lot, or you can take the loop trail to enjoy all kinds of viewpoints, or take a steeper hike down to the base of the falls. There is a day-use fee to park.
About 14 miles from Bend, Tumalo Falls is within the Deschutes National Forest. The falls are very popular for their proximity to Bend as well as their ease of access from the parking lot (just a few minutes’ walk), and make no mistake—the 97-foot Tumalo Falls is, like all the falls on this list, really genuinely gorgeous. But you can also hike around the area and see several more falls and amazing views of the forest and Cascade mountain range scenery as well. There is a day-use fee to park.
Punch Bowl Falls
What Punch Bowl Falls lacks in height (it’s just 35 feet), it makes up for in beauty, including the hike to get there. Punch Bowl Falls is located on Eagle Creek in the Columbia River Gorge, and the water shoots out into a bowl-shaped swimming hole (as in, you can actually swim here during warmer months). It’s a popular hike and destination, but you might find some quieter times if you can come early on a weekday.
Proxy Falls (also known as Lower Proxy Falls) is located in Willamette National Forest. Where many waterfalls on this list are single drops or tiered, Proxy Falls cascades down over a rocky face in a lacy pattern that’s beautifully unique. And at 226 feet high, it’s also one of Oregon’s tallest waterfalls. There are two falls here, but the lower half is the most famous and popular. The hike is about 1.5 miles, and while it’s easy, it may not be suitable for younger children or those with mobility issues. There is a day-use fee to park.
Sweet Creek Falls
At the end of a two-mile, out-and-back trail is the lovely Sweet Creek Falls. Located not far from Florence on the Oregon Coast, Sweet Creek Falls is just 20 feet high but cascades down between giant mossy boulders for a picturesque sight. The trail to get there is just as beautiful as the falls, and you’ll see a few other waterfalls along the way. There is a day-use fee to park.
Ramona Falls are tucked into the west side of Mt. Hood and features a 120-foot cascade down a rocky slope that creates a stunningly beautiful effect. To get to the falls, you’ll need to cross the Sandy River, which no longer has a bridge across it due to a flash flood years ago. Your best bet is to make the hike in late summer or early fall when the river is low, and if the river is high it’s best to just turn around and try another day. The rest of the 3.5-mile hike after the river is fairly easy and the falls serve as a reward for a job well done at the end.