Alaska is well known for having some of the countries most stunning waterfalls. The miles of mountain ranges coupled with yearly snowfall leads to breathtaking cascades in every region of the state. The best part is any waterfall you want to visit seems to be out of a movie. Most plunge 100 feet or more along side easy and accessible hiking trails. Here are some of our favorite Alaskan Falls you should visit:
List of Top Waterfalls to Visit in Alaska
15 Best and Amazing Alaska Waterfalls
1. Blackstone Falls, Whittier
Before we dive into more popular waterfalls in Alaska, we wanted to first recommend one of the most remote cascading waters you can discover. Near Whittier, this glacier falls is truly one of the most iconic natural wonders in the summer time as the snow and ice run off from Blackstone Glacier begins to melt.
Guided tours are available from Whittier where you can learn more about the history of Kenai Peninsula before getting an up close and personal experience of this magnificent waterfall.
Directions to Blackstone Falls from Whittier: Map
2. Winner Creek Falls, Girdwood
Easily the most popular hiking trail in Alaska is the Winner Creek Falls Trail. Within the Chugach National Forest, travelers from all over the world enjoy coming her for the trails that lead you to an iconic gorge with 360 degree views of Alaska’s frontier ranges. There are even tram tours or a suspension bridge that cross Winner Creek Gorge to get aerial views of the canyon below.
Now that we got that out of the way, when you are making the trek towards these other popular attractions you’ll stumble upon Winner Creek Falls. At first you may not even notice it as the cascading waters only plunge down roughly 10 feet, but once you stop and take it in, you’ll see why it makes our list of best waterfalls in the state.
The surrounding landscape along with how the water flows through two large rocks makes it one of the more unique waterfalls you’ll see. During the summer months you can also take a break here and jump into the rather large swimming hole to cool off before continuing on towards the gorge.
Directions to Winner Creek Falls from Girdwood: Map
3. Pioneer Falls, Palmer
Another relatively unknown waterfall that needs to make your bucket list is Pioneer falls near Palmer, Alaska. What makes this cascading natural wonder one of our favorite is that there isn’t just one observation point to enjoy the plunging waters. During your hike up to and around this waterfall, you’ll notice it continuously twists and turns around the surrounding forest giving you views of it’s scenic beauty all throughout your trek.
In spring and summer months you’ll also be surrounded by wildlife such as deer, bears, and various birds local to the region. It’s one of those places you need to experience instead of hear stories about. Eventually the falls will lead you out to the Knik river where you can enjoy additional activities such as swimming, kayaking, or even tubing down the river to end the perfect day of chasing waterfalls.
Directions to Pioneer Falls from Palmer: Map
4. Thunderbird Falls, Anchorage
There are quite a few amazing waterfalls not to far from Anchorage, but Thunderbird Falls may be the best one. Again located within Chugach State Park, it’s only a 30 minute drive to the trailhead that leads you up to this breathtaking falls. Native Americans chose this name after a mythical creature called an “Eagle-man” which was believed to live on top of the mountain nearby.
It’s only a half mile hike up to this natural wonder from Bird Creek Campground. Families like to bring their kids as there is only a very short section of incline before becoming relatively flat for most of the hike. Once you arrive you’ll witness over 200 feet of plunging waters that splash off rocks and tiered cliffs before ending in a swimming hole below. Just like most waterfalls, it’s best to visit Thunderbird in the spring and summer months when snow melt heightens the thunderous cascades.
At the base of the falls there is a viewing deck that can be used to take pictures with the falls as the perfect background. For the brave at heart, there is also a small little trail (very slippery) that will take you down into the canyon for even better views as you look straight up into the waters.
Directions to Thunderbird Falls from Anchorage: Map
5. Lower Reid Waterfall, Skagway
For those too lazy to explore a waterfall because of the hiking involved to get there, you can’t make that excuse anymore. Just outside of Skagway, Lower Reid Falls is accessible within 100 feet of parking and still boasts a 200 foot plunge directly over a cliff from surrounding wilderness.
Views of the falls can even be seen at nearby Skagway Bay, but it’s always recommended to get the best experience by actually visiting the waterfall up close and personal. We should also mention that there is a nearby waterfall known as Upper Reid Falls, but it isn’t accessible by the same hiking trail and in fact there is an entirely different starting point and loop to get to it.
Directions to Lower Reid Falls From Skagway: Map
6. South Fork Eagle River Falls, Anchorage
South Fork Eagle River Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in the Chugach National Forest of Alaska. It is one of the tallest waterfalls in the state easily in the top 5 for most visited every year. The falls are approximately 250 feet tall, plunging over a steep granite cliff face into an emerald green pool below.
As you hike up to the falls you’ll notice there are two different tiered sections to enjoy. When you first come to a bridge crossing you’ll be able to view the lower tiered cascading waters. There is a small trail along the creek to get close to the waters. As you continue up the trail you’ll eventually end at the upper tier that has the best views of Barbara Falls and the majestic mountains in Chugach National Forest.
Visitors to South Fork Eagle River Falls should exercise caution when viewing or hiking around this powerful natural landmark as there have been incidents involving rock slides near the waterfall in recent years.
Directions to South Fork Eagle River Falls / Barbara Falls From Anchorage: Map
7. Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park
Brooks Falls is located in the Katmai National Park and Preserve of Alaska, USA. It is a popular destination for tourists and wildlife enthusiasts as it provides spectacular views of brown bears fishing for salmon at close range. If the next postcard you get features a bear fishing for food, there’s a good chance it was near Brook Falls.
The waterfall cascades over three steps of terraced rocks creating one of the most beautiful natural waterfalls in all of Alaska. The highest drop measures around 20 feet and creates a thunderous roar when the river reaches its peak flow in summer months. It’s not uncommon to spot dozens or even hundreds of bears congregating near the falls making this one of the best spots on Earth to observe these majestic creatures up close! Visitors are advised to stay at least 50 yards away from them though as they can be unpredictable.
Directions to Brooks Falls from Anchorage: Map
8. Horsetail Falls, Whittier
This is one of the most popular waterfalls near the town of Whittier. Within a 2 mile hike you’ll be able to witness this breathtaking waterfall appearing quickly out of Alaskan’s wilderness before directly dropping off a cliff 100 feet into a large pool below. Why tourists and locals love coming to this area are for the other outdoor activities such as overnight camping and various fishing spots in nearby lakes and streams.
Just like Brook Falls, this is another popular area for Bears during specific times of the year so always be aware of your surroundings.
Directions to Horsetail Falls from Valdez: Map
9. Hidden Falls, Whittier
Hidden Falls is one of our favorite waterfalls to visit in Alaska. Within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, the falls are situated at the base of Mount Drum, one of the highest peaks in the area. It is said to be over 1,000 feet tall, making it one of the tallest waterfalls in North America. The hike to Hidden Falls begins at an elevation of about 4200 feet with a gradual climb up to 6500 feet before descending down into Chitina Valley below.
The trail has several switchbacks and can be quite strenuous for those not used to hiking at high elevations. However, once you reach the top you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains that enhance the beauty of Hidden Falls itself. Take some time to really let the views sink as you stand beneath its thunderous roar while admiring its immense size and power.
Directions to Hidden Falls from Anchorage: Map
10. Virgin Creek Falls, Girdwood
This majestic waterfall plunges over 100 feet into a spectacular pool at its base and can be reached by an easy 1-mile hike from the The Virgin Creek Falls Trail. The breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and glaciers make this one of Alaska’s most beautiful and visited waterfalls.
The Virgin Creek Falls Trail starts near Ship Creek Campground and follows an old logging road until it reaches the falls. Along this route you’ll be able to enjoy scenic overlooks including Mount Marcus Baker, which stands 13,176 feet tall, Mount Steller, and Mount Torbert.
There are two different section of cascading waters that form Virgin Creek Falls. In total it drops roughly 100 feet before continuing down the Virgin river. The hike mentioned above will lead you to the edge of a canyon where you can take pictures and enjoy the views of the waterfall before making the hike back down.
Directions to Virgin Creek Falls from Girdwood: Map
11. Pitchfork Falls, Skagway
At the far southeastern part of the state is a hidden gem that both Americans and Canadiens enjoy visiting. It’s only a few miles outside of a small town called Skagway and has an impressive 40 foot drop of cascading waters. When you first see Pitchfork falls you won’t even think you are in the same state anymore.
Snow runoff and underground springs help feed the creeks that come together to create this waterfall. As it reaches the edge of the Alaskan wilderness it cascades down over jagged rocks before ending in a perfect summertime swimming hole. There are quite a lot of trails that branch off from the falls if you’d like to spend the day exploring Skagway City Park. The surrounding wilderness and wildlife always makes for an incredible day of exploring mother nature.
Directions to Pitchfork Falls from Skagway: Map
12. Nugget Falls, Juneau County
Nugget Falls is another very popular waterfall due to its close proximity to the town of Juneau. The falls are part of the Mendenhall Glacier and drop over 200 feet into the Mendenhall Lake below. Nugget Falls was named by miners during the gold rush days who believed that nuggets could be found at their base.
While you may not discover any gold during your visit, you’ll still find plenty of breathtaking views. The hike up is quite easy and scenic as you venture through the Tongass National Forest. Once at the base of the waterfall, you’ll be witness to just how powerful this natural wonder is. If hiking isn’t your thing, we find the best way to experience Nugget Falls is from an aerial view via helicopter or floatplane tour. It’s truly a unique perspective on both the size and scope of Nugget Falls as well as a chance to see some other nearby sights such as glaciers, mountains peaks, lakes, and more.
Directions to Nugget Falls from Juneau: Map
13. Russian River Falls, Kenai Peninsula
A series of streams throughout the Kenai Peninsula come together to help form this scenic Alaskan waterfall. The cascading waters flow down over rocked tiered cliffs before continuing on down the river. Most locals recommend you head over to Observation Rock where you’ll get the best pictures and views of the plunging waters.
Instead of hiking to the waterfall, it’s best if you can try and kayak to them. There are a few white waters, but for the most part it’s an easy float down the river where you’ll get up close and personal with the falls mist jumping up from the pool and splashing you in the face. It’s definitely an unforgettable experience.
Directions to Russian River Falls from Anchorage: Map
14. Liberty Falls, Chitina
Another natural wonder that drops over 200 feet is Liberty Falls. It’s rather close to the city of Juneau and is a top 10 destination in most magazines for it’s roaring waters that can be heard for miles around. The sound of the rushing water leads to the excitement as you hike up to this Alaskan waterfall.
The breathtaking beauty of the Liberty Waterfall makes it one of Alaska’s most popular tourist attractions. People travel from all over the world to witness its majesty firsthand and take photographs to share with friends and family. The area around the waterfall is also filled wildlife, hiking trail, and lakes, making it an ideal spot for anyone who wants to spend a day outdoors.
Liberty Waterfall is easily accessible via car or by boat tour through Resurrection Bay.
Directions to Liberty Falls from Chitina: Map
15. Rookery Falls, Whittier
You won’t be hiking to this amazing waterfall in Alaska (unless you are a true mountain man). Rookery Falls can be accessed through boat tours out of Whittier Harbor. This unique natural wonder plunges over 100 feet over a cliff down into the lake below. If you have a few hours to kill, we highly recommend putting Rookery Falls on your bucket list. You’ll also get a nice history lesson into the history of the town and how the falls were discovered.
Directions to Rookery Falls from Whittier: Map
Location and Map of Waterfalls in Alaska
Check out our Alaska Waterfalls Map for even more locations and directions on some of the states best falls to visit.