I am not sure when my fascination with waterfalls began, but it certainly has grown over the years as I have seen so many through my travels. The granddaddy of them all, Niagara Falls State Park in New York was established in 1885 and is a popular destination averaging over 28 million tourists annually. Niagara Falls are made up of three sets of waterfalls that are on the border between Canada and the United States. The Falls can be viewed by both the American and Canadian sides and each side offers a different perspective.
Any landscape is beautifully enhanced with the addition of a waterfall. Just think, almost any park you visit one of the “key” features, and a photographers delight, is the viewing of a waterfall. Whether they are big or small, the inherent beauty of them is always a pleasure to view, and the serenity that the flowing water provides is an added bonus. Just think of all those little desk-top fountain to help you get your Zen on. I am more relaxed already.
Frequently, waterfalls are tucked away in the woods and require a hike to get to. Yet, that just enhances the excitement, because as you walk….you can hear the water “woooshing”. We must be getting closer….. When you get there it suddenly appears and WOW! Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio) has a beautiful waterfall with excellent viewing platforms over the falls. Brandy wine Falls cascades over sandstone cliffs creating a dramatic main waterfall, then several smaller ones. The photo opportunities are endless in this beautiful area of the park.
Many factors of course, determine the size, pathway and occurrence of waterfalls. The source of the water, precipitation levels, topography and geological features all define the distribution of waterfalls. If you want to view waterfalls in your own area, it is encouraging to know that there are significant waterfalls in all 50 states except Delaware and North Dakota. An interesting site to explore that shows the location, and names of American waterfalls is:http://geology.com/waterfalls The site has an overview of the United States, with major waterfalls tagged in each region. You can select a specific state and find out the number of falls in that state. Then you can take it one step further and find out the name and locations of each waterfall. Really fun site to poke around on and to plan you next “Falls watching” venture.
Another important consideration when hoping to view waterfalls at their peak, is the time of year. For some locations, the season does not matter, but for others timing is everything and the melting snows and spring rains really delivers a showcase of stunning waterfalls. For example, a few years ago I visited Starved Rock State Park in Illinois during the early part of October. The foliage was wonderful at that time of year but alas, it had been a dry Fall and the waterfalls in the Park (they say there are 14 in the various canyons) were barely a dribble. It was still a great trip and the hikes around the canyons were terrific, but I was disappointed in the emptiness of the canyons….they seemed too still without the sound of cascading waters. I hope to go back sometime in the spring, when the Falls in the park would be more robust. It really is a beautiful park.
Sometimes a walk in the woods is not required for viewing beautiful cascading waterfalls. Depending on where you are, waterfalls are frequently spotted roadside, making the drive quite scenic. On the road to Valdez, Alaska there are several falls that can be seen along the drive and several turnouts are there to help you safely photograph them. This particular collection of waterfalls in Alaska is not very large, but they are so incredibly scenic with the surrounding vegetation, rock formations and the beauty of Alaskan wildflowers. Depending on what time of year you are there, in the summer months the roadsides are filled with the Fireweed flower blossoms. Fireweed is easily spotted by its bright pink or light purple flowers. Here is a photo I took of Bridal Veil Falls along the Richardson Highway east of Valdez. One little lone Fireweed in the foreground.
In Glacier National Park, Montana there are several alpine waterfalls within the park that can be seen in several different “formats”. Many are small little waterfalls in the streams surrounded by mountain pines. Others are larger and more dramatic coming off the face of a mountain. Yet, one of the most unusual waterfalls is seen on the main road that traverses thru the park: the “Going to the Sun Road.” On this twisting and winding road you come upon the “Weeping Wall”. Several cascading falls on the side of the wall as you pass by. I can understand why they close this road in the winter, where it turns to torrents of ice. Even in the beauty of a summer day, the mountain road is a very winding and treacherous. That is why I was glad that my husband and I left the driving to the experts on a “Red Bus Tour” as seen in this photo. It was a great tour that allowed us to relax, take pictures and enjoy the ride. However, I have to confess…there were a few curves and drop offs on the road where I just had to shut my eyes and hold my breath. We made it back alive to tell the tale.
Another joy in photographing waterfalls is the inherent possibility of capturing a beautiful rainbow highlighted within the picture. Sometimes it is deliberate, sometimes like magic they appear in the frame. Well…lots of water, sun and….Voila…rainbows frequently appear. Shoshone Falls, a stunning waterfall in Idaho, is frequently photographed and rainbows are captured in those photos. At 212 feet high, Shoshone Falls are actually higher than Niagara. Here is a photo with the beauty of the Shoshone Falls and a stunning rainbow framing them.
Anytime I am exploring a new area, I am on the look-out for the photo-ops of a stunning waterfall. So tell me, what is one of your favorite waterfalls? Can’t wait to visit another.
Put your traveling shoes on. JES