Waterfalls are a staple in the Pacific Northwest, and the promise of a beautiful waterfall is often the inspiration and motivation for adventure. Washington's geography and climate make waterfall viewing great year round, whether you're in the rainy Olympics or snowshoeing to a frozen fall in the mountains.
The high annual precipitation paired with the volcanic mountains of the Pacific Northwest are two of the major factors for the abundance of waterfalls in Washington. The majority of Washington's waterfalls are located in the western part of the state on the Olympic Peninsula, near Mount Rainier, in the Columbia River Gorge, and in the North Cascades. The Cascades are actually named for all the cascading water that flows from the mountains down to the valleys below.
Palouse Falls: The main attraction at Palouse Falls State Park is the 198-foot Palouse Falls, which is Washington's official state waterfall, but the geology surrounding the falls is just as impressive. This is a perfect picnic destination that offers a number of covered and uncovered picnic areas with amazing views. This is the easternmost waterfall in the state.
Deception Falls Interpretive Trail: Deception Falls is a great kid-friendly hike that is busiest during the summer months, though it is a must-see during the spring when the flow from spring runoff will leave you speechless.
Bridal Veil Falls: This is one of the most popular Washington waterfalls, and for good reason. Water tumbles down an impressive 1,328 feet over countless granite slabs, with each fall thundering on the rocks below and spraying hikers as they climb right to the base of the cascade.
Paradise Park, Myrtle Falls: The short paved walkway to Myrtle Falls can be crowded, but it offers a fantastic view of the waterfall with Mount Rainier in the background. Visit at sunset and hope for a little alpenglow on Mount Rainier.
Spray Waterfall + Spray Park Hike: This 7.5-mile there-and-back trail has it all. It's perfect for spring wildflowers, offers excellent views of Mount Rainier, and ends at the 354-foot waterfall.
Lewis River Falls: Glacial melt from Mount Adams feeds the Lewis River and leads to stunning waterfall drops at Lower, Middle and Upper Lewis River Falls. Photographers, fisherman and those looking to take a (chilly) dip in the river will be presented with dozens, if not hundreds, of options.
Falls Creek Falls: The Falls Creek Falls Trail is a terrific adventure for anyone looking for a short, beautiful hike with a spectacular view waiting at the end.
Panther Creek Falls: It's an easy, short stroll to the viewing point for Panther Creek Falls. If you can find the trail to access the falls from below, it's certainly worth the scramble. This is my absolute favorite waterfall in Washington.