Hundreds of miles away from the sea of colorful billboards at Times Square, at the opposite end of the state, thousands of waterfalls light up the New York State map.
New York is one of my absolute favorite states to go waterfall chasing. You heard me right! New York has some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the USA! And I am going to tell you all about them in this blog post.
On a short 3-day road trip through New York, you can literally see dozens of incredible waterfalls! I wrote a complete waterfall itinerary if you’re interested in embarking on this amazing road trip.
But if you’re looking for a roundup of the very best waterfalls in New York, you’ve come to the right place! The wild and ferocious waterfalls in New York are some of the best you’ll find in the entire country. Waterfalls that could put up a decent fight against those in the PNW and North Carolina.
In this guide, I reveal eleven amazing New York waterfalls that you need to see. These waterfalls can all easily be chased on a single 3-day road trip. I will map out the waterfalls for you, share some info on each park and waterfall, and include what to do while you’re there.
New York Waterfalls Map
Tips for Chasing These New York Waterfalls
- Save money on entrance fees by camping at one of the New York State Park campgrounds. During the duration of your campground stay, you will receive free admittance into the state parks (which is where most of the best New York waterfalls are!)
- Empire Passes (AKA annual NY state park passes) are available for those who will be frequently visiting New York state parks.
Things to Bring on Your New York Waterfalls Tour
- Sturdy water shoes with traction >> Waterfall trails are slippery!
- Waterproof camera >> Waterproof action cameras like the Insta360 or GoPro are perfect for all of your water adventures.
- Dry bag >> If you don’t want to get your backpack wet.
- Small towel >> To dry off after swimming in the falls.
- Water >>> Stay hydrated!
- Snacks >> Stay fueled!
- Sunglasses >> Protect your eyes from the harsh UV rays.
- Sunscreen >> Protect your skin from the harsh UV rays.
- Swimsuit >> Some of the waterfalls have swimming holes!
11 Amazing Waterfalls in New York
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New York Waterfalls 1, 2 & 3: Horseshoe, American, and Bridal Veil Falls at Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is a collection of three of America’s most impressive waterfalls – Horseshoe, American, and Bridal Veil Falls. Every person should see this incredible natural wonder at least once in their lifetime.
Two of the falls reside on the USA side while the largest waterfall straddles the Canada/USA border. All of the falls are visible from both sides, each country boasting its own unique angles, presentations, and opportunities.
To make the most of your day in Niagara Falls, don’t miss the overlooks, be sure to take a boat ride, and partake in as many excursions as your time and wallet allow. Read my travel guide to discover the best things to do on each side of Niagara Falls.
→ READ NEXT: Ultimate Niagara Falls Travel Guide USA vs Canada 💦
New York Waterfall 4: Buttermilk Falls
There are so many New York State Parks with waterfalls, and one of my favorites is Buttermilk Falls.
Buttermilk Falls, with its 165-foot frothy drop and massive swimming hole swirling at the base, is the main attraction at Buttermilk Falls State Park, but it’s certainly not the only sight to see. In fact, the official “Buttermilk Falls” was my least favorite part of the entire trail – the falls and the views just keep getting better as you hike up the gorge. (In my opinion!)
There are about 9 other cascades and plunges along the 1-mile gorge trail, each with its own character and ferocity. Ranging from 5 feet to 165 feet, these falls are at their prime in the spring season and following significant rainfall.
PRO TIP: The main park trails close after November each year, so if you want to hike the gorge or rim trails, be sure to visit from spring to fall. The swimming hole at the base of Buttermilk Falls is open seasonally, but its hours are subject to change so be sure to contact a ranger before your arrival.
New York Waterfall 5: Taughannock Falls
Taughannock Falls State Park’s namesake waterfall is the highlight of the park; it plunges 215 feet off a rocky cliff and into a shallow pool.
Take the scenic 1.8-mile out & back hiking trail from the parking lot to Taughannock Falls. The trail follows the river. You will see a smaller waterfall toward the beginning of the trail before reaching the “main event.”
KEEP IN MIND: Unlike many of the other waterfalls near Ithica New York, visitors are NOT allowed in the water at all along Taughannock Creek. The creek spills into Cayuga Lake, so if you want to swim, park in the lot across 89 for immediate beach access.
New York Waterfalls 6 & 7: Lucifer Falls and Lower Falls at Robert H. Treman State Park
Located off the southern tip of Cayuga Lake in Ithaca and just one mile from Buttermilk Falls State Park, Robert H. Treman State Park is a must-see on your New York/Finger Lakes waterfall road trip.
12 waterfalls, including the two most popular, Lower and Lucifer, are dotted along the creek while a rugged gorge with wooded forests and towering rock walls line the trail.
For swimming hole enthusiasts, there is a stream-fed pool beneath a massive waterfall, Lower Falls, that is perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day.
Most importantly, Robert. H. Treman is home to a spectacular, 115-foot waterfall, Lucifer Falls. Take the 1.1-mile loop from the parking area to the falls. Once you reach Lucifer, you can view the falls from above along the trail or follow the creek down to the base of the falls to cool off. This is my absolute favorite waterfall in New York!
→ READ NEXT: The Best 3-Day New York Waterfalls Road Trip
New York Waterfall 8: Rainbow Falls
Watkins Glen State Park is nestled on the southern tip of Seneca Lake and is known for its trail of 19 waterfalls. Just 1.5 miles in length, you can see all 19 impressive waterfalls along the gorge.
Though the secret is out on this place – it can get very crowded due to its short, easy “bang for your buck” hike – it’s very much worth putting up with the hordes of people in order to see this magnificent place.
The most impressive and picturesque waterfall on the Gorge Trail is Rainbow Falls, but it’s worth seeing every single waterfall along the gorge. The walk along the gorge is anything but boring – there is something new to see with every step you take!
New York Waterfalls 9, 10 & 11: Upper, Middle, and Lower Genesee Falls at Letchworth State Park
Letchworth State Park is often referred to as “The Grand Canyon of the East.” This park spans across the Genessee River, which slices through a deep gorge riddled with waterfalls.
The most popular falls in the park, the ones that you’ve most likely seen splashed across glossy magazines and news articles, are the not-so-creatively named Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls located in the southern portion of the park.
For those who are feeling adventurous, there is a 14-mile Gorge Trail that you can hike to see all of the falls. For the less adventurous or those who are on a time crunch, you can drive to the waterfalls and view them from the overlooks right off the parking lot.
Bonus New York Waterfalls
These are some of the other waterfalls in New York that are on my list. If you have the time, you could definitely add them to your road trip!
- Kaaterskill Falls
- Ithica Falls
- Salmon River Falls
- Eternal Flame Falls
- Eagle Cliff Falls
- Chittenango Falls
- Rainbow Falls in the Adirondacks
Discover Your Next Adventure
Where to next? I’ve got some suggestions!
- 3-Day New York Waterfalls Road Trip
- Niagara Falls Travel Guide
- 9 Must-See Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls
- Complete Guide to Paddling to Burgess Falls
- Complete Guide to Cummins Falls State Park
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