Before I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2011, I had never seen a waterfall. I suppose you wouldn’t expect to see one in the middle of Brooklyn or Manhattan, where I grew up.
So, you could imagine my incredulous amazement when one of my colleagues from my former employer, onOne Software, took me to see my first waterfall. Since then, I’ve had the fortune of visiting many more waterfalls in Oregon and Washington, each offering its own charm and varying degrees of distance and difficulty to get to. So, I’d like to share five beautiful waterfalls that I’ve photographed with the hope that you check them out for yourselves when you find yourself in the area.
1. Big Spring Creek Falls — Skamania County, Washington
I’ve only been to Big Spring Creek Falls twice and I fell in love with it the second I saw it. Sure, the fact that these falls are only 30 feet from the dirt parking area doesn’t hurt but once you lay eyes on this gorgeous series of cascading waterfalls, you’ll understand why it takes my #1 spot.
When I approach a waterfall, I usually gauge varying elements that it offers. For instance, I love it when there are several cascades that the water flows through. It’s usually at these drops that you’ll find the water take on the look of tendrils. It also provides all sorts of composition possibilities.
2. Emerald Falls — Hood River County, Oregon
I was shocked that I had only recently discovered this gem after living in Oregon for this long. The reason why Emerald Falls ranks so highly in my book is mostly due to Gorton Creek, which is the body of water that is fed by the cascading waterfall at the end of its trail.
Gorton Creek alone would be wonderful but you’re treated to a beautiful, cascading waterfall at the end (or beginning) of the creek. There is a relatively easy path that you can climb alongside the waterfall, putting you right over it. It is a waterfall that you should certainly not miss.
3. Panther Creek Falls — Skamania County, Washington
I’ve been to Panther Creek Falls a bunch of times. It’s usually a staple for us to bring visitors to because of the relatively easy jaunt down the dirt path and the scenic overlook platform that gives you a gorgeous view of the falls. And what a view it is! The carved and chiseled rock face creates a dizzying array of pathways for water to flow through, creating a beautiful effect.
For more adventurous photographers, you could hike to the base of the falls and get an utterly stunning view of the falls. It really is quite majestic.
4. Wahclella Falls — Multnomah County, Oregon
What’s interesting is that I love Wahclella Falls for the same reason that I love Emerald Falls. It’s because of the wonderful, meandering stream that you follow as you make your way to the actual falls.
The trail is relatively easy although it is a steady incline pretty much the entire way. Toward the end of the trail, you’ll descend onto the first of two footbridges, which will lead you to the final stretch. As you approach Wahclella Falls, you’ll be greeted by a very picturesque footbridge with the falls sitting several hundred feet behind it.
There are all sorts of photo opportunities here, especially if you’re fortunate enough to visit it after some snow has fallen.
5. Latourell Falls — Multnomah County, Oregon
Depending on which direction you begin your journey of the Route 30 Historic Byway, Latourell Falls will either be your first or last waterfall stop in the circuit. Despite it being a heavily touristed spot, Latourell Falls offers a lot for the patient photographer.
Like Wahclella Falls, Latourell has a very picturesque footbridge near its base, giving you a variety of ways to photograph it. You can climb under the bridge for some unique views and when the weather and winds cooperate, it’s also possible to walk right up to it, although you can be certain that you and your camera will get saturated by spray.
Additionally, it’s impossible not to mention the dizzying arrangement of the basalt rock wall and the lichen growing on it that is so vibrantly green, youd think it was neon.
So those are five beautiful waterfalls located in the Pacific Northwest. Do you have a favorite waterfall? Be sure to share it in the comments and remember that it can be anywhere in the world!