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9 Waterfalls in North Cascades National Park Worth Visiting

North Cascades National park is far better known for its mountains than it is waterfalls. But, the waterfalls in North Cascades National Park are worth visiting for their towering drops and stunning mountain backdrops.

This famed national park is home to a few of the best waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you're looking for an intense hike with 1,000's feet of elevation gain or a quick side trip, there are enough waterfalls in Washington to fill anyone's itinerary.

Waterfalls in North Cascades National Park Worth Visiting

Waterfalls in North Cascades National Park

  • 2,568 feet tall

  • The tallest waterfall in the continental U.S.

Many people are surprised to learn that the tallest waterfall in the continental U.S. is hidden away in North Cascades National Park. There are only a few spots where you can get a good look at Colonial Creek Falls, and the hike to the summit of Snowfield Peak is one of them.

Colonial Creek Falls
The waterfall is visible in the middle-right of the image

Colonial Creek Falls is massive, although it doesn't always look like it.

The waterfall is only a few miles from Highway 20 but traverses more than 4,000 feet across the slope and drops 2,568 feet. In total, it has a shocking 13 drops. It's only visible from a few places along the highway, one of which is at the Ross Dam Trailhead.

Gorge Creek Falls
Gorge Creek Falls

Gorge Creek Falls

  • Located close to Newhalem

  • 242 feet tall and flows year-round

This year-round waterfall is one of the most beautiful in North Cascades National Park. It's an impressive 242 feet tall and accessed via the Gorge Creek Falls Trail. It's a short hike, making it an ideal add-on to any North Cascades itinerary.

If you love waterfalls, you'll adore the Columbia River Gorge between Oregon and Washington. There, you'll find some truly amazing waterfalls, including the tallest waterfall in Oregon - Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls, and Tamananwas Falls.

John Pierce Waterfall

  • Prominent from Highway 20

  • Only 66 feet tall

Although this waterfall is only 66 feet tall, it's visible from Highway 20 throughout much of the year. It's also known as Horsetail Falls due to its form, but was remained in the 70s.

Did you know? There are over 3,000 named waterfalls in Washington.

Racehorse Falls

  • 0.6-mile hike in

  • 140 feet tall

This impressive waterfall has four distinct drops that make it stand out among other waterfalls on this list. The falls have carved a beautiful canyon around the river that makes hiking in to see the waterfall all the more worth it.

Ladder Creek Falls
Ladder Creek Falls

Ladder Creek Falls

  • Easily accessible

  • Flows year-round

The aptly named Ladder Creek Falls is accessed via the paved Ladder Creek Falls Trail. It's very easy to get to (only 0.5 miles of hiking) and well worth the effort.

While many of these waterfalls are very easy to access, there are others that require some true Pacific Northwest hiking.

Mystery Falls

  • 106 feet tall

  • Flows year-round

Unlike some waterfalls on this list, Mystery Falls is visible year-round. You can see it during its peak flow in spring or when it's slightly less in the fall. The waterfall is part of the Skagit River and is found along the side of Cascade River Road.

Newhalem Falls

  • 280 feet tall

  • A horsetail waterfall

This very tall waterfall is in the middle of the town of Newhalem. It's easy to find and easy to see. Or at least it is for part of the season.

Upper Newhalem Creek
Upper Newhalem Creek that flows into Newhalem Falls

The waterfall is created from snow melt so if you want to see it, head up Highway 20 fairly early in the season before the flow tapers off.

Rainbow Falls

  • Part of Rainbow Falls State Park

  • A small waterfall

Not the most impressive waterfall on paper, but this fall is located within its own state park-- Rainbow Falls State Park. It's on the Chehalis River, very close to the town of Dryad, Washington. In the park, you can hike, camp, and visit the park's namesake.

To find the falls, you'll want to hike into the state park, taking the unmarked trail into the woods.

Nooksack Falls

  • A very popular waterfall hike

  • 88 feet tall

A stunning waterfall that's further north than any of the others on this list.


Nooksack Falls is one of the best-known waterfalls on this list. It's easy to access off of Mount Baker Highway (also known as State Route 542). It's a segmented waterfall that hits a maximum width of only 30 feet.

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