Embark on a journey to Crater Lake, not just to witness its iconic caldera lake, but to explore the hidden gems that lie in its vicinity. As the fifth national park in the United States, Crater Lake shares the same grandeur as Yosemite and Rainier, offering awe-inspiring landscapes and a plethora of activities, from ziplining adventures to serene trolley rides. But beyond the lake's rim and the bustling visitor center, there lies a world of cascading beauty waiting to be discovered.
In the heart of the Pacific Northwest, Crater Lake is surrounded by some of the most enchanting waterfalls, each with its unique allure. These natural wonders are more than just scenic stops; they're invitations to immerse yourself in the tranquility and majesty of Oregon's wilderness. As we guide you through the top 10 must-see waterfalls near Crater Lake, consider this not just a list, but a curated itinerary for an unforgettable adventure.
From the thunderous roar of towering falls to the gentle whispers of hidden cascades, each waterfall tells a story of the land's geological past and present vibrancy. Whether you're a seasoned hiker seeking a challenging trail or a family looking for accessible natural beauty, these waterfalls offer something for everyone. So pack your spirit of adventure and prepare to be captivated by the diverse and breathtaking waterfalls that embellish the landscape around Crater Lake, a testament to the enduring beauty of Oregon's natural wonders.
Start your waterfall-hunting adventure right inside Crater Lake National Park at Plain Falls. The word Plaikni translates to “from the high country.” This waterfall is named thusly because of its position along the high slopes of Mount Mazama.The particular trail you can hike to Plaikni Falls was opened in 2011, making it the newest trail to a waterfall near Crater Lake. You will find a sign at the trailhead of Plaikni Falls that explains its origins. The sign describes Plaikni Falls as, “The high country receives an average yearly snowfall of 44 feet, and this melting snow percolates through loose volcanic soil, hits an impermeable layer, and surfaces as a spring. One spring forms Sand Creek, which cascades down as Plaikni Falls.”You will also find a lush area surrounding this waterfall covered with wildflowers and even butterflies.
Toketee Falls should definitely be at the top of your list of waterfalls near Crater Lake to stop and visit. This waterfall is a picturesque and awe-inspiring sight.This waterfall is located on the north Umpqua River where it converges with the Clearwater River. The word Toketee translates from Chinook jargon and means “pretty” or “graceful.” This accurately describes this waterfall near Crater Lake that drops 113 feet, with a 28 foot upper tier that plunges into a pool surrounded by a deep alcove, with an 85 foot plunge into an even larger pool. This waterfall is one of Oregon’s most famous waterfalls, known for its columnar basalt formation.Toketee Falls is regulated and monitored by a dam built upstream by PacifiCorp which reduces water flow. This has also created a reservoir known as Toketee Lake. With stunning views and serene surroundings, be sure to stop by this waterfall.
Every visitor should make a stop at Vidae Falls while visiting Crater Lake! You can view this accessible waterfall, located within the National Park, without even leaving your car. It requires minimal effort to view, but don’t let that fool you. This is still worth your time to look at.This waterfall originates at Vidae Creek and cascades over a three-stepped bluff as it drops over 115 feet and then flows under Rim Drive. The source of water for Vidae Falls – while many believe it to be leakage from Crater Lake – is actually a local spring further upstream.You can hike further along the waterfall or spring and get a closer look. This waterfall is ideal for those who wish to see waterfalls with health concerns or small children. Be sure to stop here and snap a photo or two to add to your collection of waterfalls near Crater Lake.
Watson Falls is a 272 foot waterfall located on Watson Creek, which is a tributary of the Clearwater River. It is located 47 miles from Union Creek off of Highway 138. Watson Falls is the third highest waterfall in Oregon. This also makes it the highest waterfall in southwestern Oregon. Watson Falls is a perfect waterfall near Crater Lake that you can immerse yourself in. The water cascades over basalt lava cliffs, as it makes its way to the pool below. Another great feature of this waterfall near Crater Lake is that you can walk underneath it.The trail to Watson Falls is an easy 0.6 miles. You can even take the footbridge that is 0.3 miles from the trailhead. From there, you can get a truly spectacular view of Watson Falls.
Whitehorse Falls is another waterfall near Crater Lake and it is located along Clearwater Creek. Whitehorse Falls features a 15 foot drop. It flows out of a narrow trough before tumbling into the pool below. This is another waterfall that is easy to catch as you can see it from the Whitehorse Falls Campground entrance. It is located in the heart of the Umpqua National Forest. Whitehorse Falls has a small trail that lies a short distance from the location where the North Umpqua and Clearwater Rivers converge. Like all of the other previous mentioned waterfalls near Crater Lake, you will find beautiful scenery to take photos of. The area features moss covered rocks, and a large canopy of Douglas Fir Trees.
Clearwater Falls is a different experience. While most waterfalls have a noticeable point where they originate from, Clearwater Falls appears to spring out from beneath the green foliage, moss covered rocks, and intermingled tree roots. This is due to the soft soil under the falls which allows the river to seep in and out of the ground. Clearwater Falls is located high up in the Umpqua River drainage, along Clearwater River. It is the first interruption you will find along the river. It features a 29 foot drop as it falls over the mossy rocks.This waterfall near Crater Lake is definitely an experience because of how it bubbles out of the surrounding environment. Be sure to make a stop at Clearwater Falls for a very unique experience.
Mill Creek Falls
The Mill Creek Falls is located near Prospect, Oregon, just a short drive south of Crater Lake. This waterfall takes a 175 foot tumble over its cliff into a pool. This set of towering falls can be spotted from across the nearby Rogue River Canyon across a steep gorge. Mill Creek Falls has a forceful push of water that careens over the edge into the pool below and the overgrowth of trees. If you like the tall waterfalls, this is definitely one you will want to stop by on your way to Crater Lake. And while you’re here, you can hop across the way and see its sister waterfall, Barr Creek Falls.
Barr Creek Falls
Barr Creek Falls features a larger and more graceful fall than its sister waterfall, Mill Creek Falls. Barr Creek Falls, another great waterfall near Crater Lake, is a multi-stepped waterfall. The water here initially falls over a 60 foot wall that is partially obstructed by trees, before falling another 30 feet, and finally 150 feet to the canyon floor below.Barr Creek Falls is surrounded by walls made of petrified volcanic ash from Mount Mazama’s long ago eruption. If you stand in the right location, you can even see both Barr Creek Falls and Mill Creek Falls at the same time, as they are on the same rock cliff. Be sure to stop by both of these and see the comparisons and differences.
Annie Creek Falls
You won’t have to look far for this waterfall near Crater Lake. Annie Falls is the the tallest of three waterfalls named thusly within Crater Lake National Park. It is located at the south end of Rim Village Historic District along Annie Creek.Annie Falls cascades over 53 feet down a slope located in Annie Creek Canyon. It is also surrounded by walls of petrified volcanic ash from Mount Mazama. You can safely view Annie Falls from the picnic area located nearby. Make a nice afternoon out of it, and take lunch to eat while you listen to the nearby cascading waterfall.
Stuart Falls, reached by the Pumice Flat Trail which originates inside the park, offers one of the most rewarding waterfall views around Crater Lake National Park. Considered one of the most challenging waterfall routes you can pursue, the hike to the falls and back takes five hours there and back. And we mean hike! This 11.5 mile out and back trail starts flat but soon turns difficult for less-practiced hikers. But, the reward is worth the effort with your hike intersecting the Pacific Crest Trail and offering one of the most isolated experiences you’ll find anywhere near the park.
Waterfall enthusaiasts: you may be wondering how Klamath Falls got its name. Take a walk along the Link River nature trail, directly accessible from Downtown Klamath Falls, to understand a bit more about the "fall" of the water between Klamath Lake and Ewauna that gave the city its name. Expect a different waterfall experience here! The natural features here more closely resemble tumbling whitewater rapids than chute waterfalls. Be sure to keep your eyes open for iconic and unique wildlife here, this trail is also an excellent place to view some of Klamath's famous bird species throughout the year.