8 California Waterfalls You Will Want to See

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I’m not exactly sure what it is about waterfalls that has captured my attention for all my life. It could be the noise, a break in the river flow, the power that the free fall produces, or the fact that my best back massage ever was from a waterfall!

Whatever interest that pulls me towards these phenomena’s I will be sure to always appreciate my time spent there! Although this list doesn’t include every waterfall in California by far, I wanted to share some of my favorites from the Pacific Ocean to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

1. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

I remember visiting this park with my dad on a road trip I’d say back in the mid 90’s. It was beautiful and nobody was there except a couple other travelers. My last visit a few years ago the place was completely full to capacity. The falls are 129′ tall and tell a story of years past.

2. McWay Falls

Located on the most beautiful stretch of ocean front property in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is McWay Falls. While the beach and cliffs are off limits the easy 1 mile stroll to the bluffs overlooking the 80′ McWay falls is worth the effort.

3. Alamere Falls

Point Reyes National Seashore is a paradise for adventurers. The Phillip Burton Wilderness is a dramatic landscape with Alamere Falls dropping 40′ to the beach is the highlight of many outdoorsman.

Yosemite Falls is North America’s tallest waterfall, which rises 2,425 feet above the Valley floor. The hike to the top is strenuous and is best to start early as in the summer months you are exposed and there is no drinking water on the trail.  The trail is open year round but conditions vary depending on the season.  Also it is highly recommended to stay on the trail as the cliffs are extremely sharp and dangerous. 

Growing up on the border of Big Basin State Park I have visited this fall many times. I have seen it during storms, droughts, on foot and on bike. It is not the biggest fall on this list but its secluded spot in the redwoods make this a special place

Remember when hiking near water it is possible for the terrain to become slippery or icy. If not using caution it is possible to slip and/or fall causing injury!

Mist Falls in Kings Canyon National Park where the south fork of the Kings River drops about 100′ over granite boulders. The mist from the water pounding over the granite is refreshing on hot summer days.

Dropping 620 feet, Bridalveil Fall is often the first waterfall you’ll see when entering Yosemite National Park. Its powerful flow is best felt during spring months and in the summer you will notice a constant but lighter flow swaying in the summer breeze. Stroll the paved trail to the base of this waterfall that flows year round.

Photo by Inklein at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16998276

Wapama Falls is a beautiful demonstration of water carving rock. Falling in 3 sections totaling just about 1,100′ this fall flows year round. During peak flow the water pounds the trail bridge at the base making it impossible to cross. Wapama Falls is the most overlooked falls in Yosemite National Park.

About The Author

Robert Bytheway

Robert Bytheway

I have a passion for the outdoors and exploring. Taking my family on road trips and adventures is my greatest success. Mountain Biking the Santa Cruz Mountains is my favorite activity.

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