Magazine article Sunset

Top 10 Waterfalls

Magazine article Sunset

Top 10 Waterfalls

Article excerpt

Visit the West's most memorable cascades, from Hawaii to Yellowstone


HAVASU FALLS Other falls are taller; other falls carry greater volumes of water. And boy, are other falls easier to reachto get to Havasu, you hike 10 miles into Havasu Canyon, having obtained the required trail permit from the Havasupai Indian Reservation months earlier. But no waterfall in the world is so worth the work. Near-at least on the map-the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Havasu and nearby Mooney Falls offer a perfect balance of natural forces: turquoise water and red, red rock, glowing beneath a blue desert sky. Once you see them, they become the backdrop of your happiest dreams. $35 trail permit, $12 camping permit; reserve at least 3-4 months ahead; or 928/448-2121. -PETER FISH


'AKAKA FALLS FALLS Hawaii has no shortage of waterfalls, but few combine the easy access and knock-your-flip-flops-off beauty of the Big Island's 'Akaka Falls. North of Hilo and just a few miles inland from State 19, the waterfall emerges from a cleft cloaked by dense rain forest, then plunges 442 feet into a curving pool. To reach it, you take a paved 0.4-mile loop that leads through jungle brightened by tropical flowers. And there's a bonus too: Before arriving at 'Akaka Falls, you pass Kahuna Falls, a comparative kelki (Hawaiian for "child") at 100 feet tall, free; www. or 808/374-6200. -MATTHEW JAFFE

3 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WY UPPER AND LOWER FALLS OF THE YELLOWSTONE RIVER How amazing are these falls? So amazing, they'll make you forget Yellowstone's other big draws, the geysers and wildlife. As the Yellowstone River cascades over Upper (109 feet) and Lower (308 feet) Falls, mist rises to veil the world in celadons and golds. Thomas Moran's paintings of this scene helped convince Congress to make Yellowstone the world's first national park. Now you'll know why. At Upper Falls Viewpoint, a canyon-hugging platform lifts you just above the watery tumult; for a more serenely magnificent scene, gaze at Lower Falls from Artist Point (the road to the point opens Apr 20). $25 per vehicle; www. or 307/344-7381. -P.F.

4 YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA YOSEMITE, BRIDALVEIL, VERNAL, AND NEVADA FALLS From nearly any spot in Yosemite Valley, you're within view of at least one world-class waterfall. There's the two-tier, 2,425-foot Yosemite Falls itself, one of the tallest in the world; Bridalveil Fall, a pure, snowy white cascade; plus Vernal and Nevada Falls, which can be seen close up on the popular (and strenuous) 1.5-mile Mist Trail. And then there are the more fleeting waterfalls, which appear during the park's peak waterfall season in May and early June as High Sierra snowmelt hits streams and rivers. Give yourself a "Yosemite facial" by standing in the spray along the footbridge at the base of Yosemite Falls for a few minutes, and remember-there's plenty more where that came from. $20 per vehicle; www.nps. gov/yose or 209/372-0233. -ABIGAIL PETERSON


MULTNOMAH FALLS At 620 feet, it's the second-tallest year-round waterfall in the country, but Multnomah's appeal can't be measured in numbers alone. It has a slender grace, free-falling more than 500 feet into a pool, then sliding toward a second, shorter drop under an arching stone footbridge built in 1914. From the bridge, follow a zigzagging trail up and up to a platform perched over the lip of the falls-a moderate 1. …

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